apple blossoms against a blue sky.  Photo taken by the D Parking Lot, Allendale campus

CLAS Acts July 2018

Monthly Newsletter of the TT Faculty of the College

CLAS logo


Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of CLAS

“There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.” 
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Let me start by thanking all the volunteers, golfers and sponsors who made CLAS on the Green such a success for the CLAS Endowed Scholarship Fund.  [detail can be added just after CLAS on the Green]

I’d also like to thank everyone who assisted us to recruit for the spring and summer sessions.  We were up 6.5%. We all want these spring and summer term courses to thrive for those students who need them and to relieve pressure on curricular bottlenecks.

Some of the courses of particular practicality at this time of year for our far-flung students are the online and hybrid courses.  If you have thought about becoming involved in a course delivered in either of these styles, some training is available this month.  On Sprout you can sign up for a fully online version of the Foundations workshop, in which participants will learn the basics for developing a course with the online or hybrid designation.

On July 9, OURS is holding a discussion on “Mentoring in the Time of #metoo and #timesup”. 

On July 10, time has been set aside for Faculty and Staff to use the climbing wall for free.

For those of you receiving a promotion in rank that will become official this month, I wanted to remind you to update your faculty profile on your department website.  If when you review your profile you notice your picture needs updating, we hear that the new photography portrait studio at University Communications is due to be completed any time now.

On July 15, there is a deadline for FTLC travel grants.

If you are on campus this month, you can catch the compelling Biotechnology through the Artist's Lens exhibit in the library.

So you can see that the campus is increasingly active year-round.  Of course that doesn’t dilute the fun of August 6 when you all come back on contract and the events start to be fast and furious.  But until then, I hope your summer is refreshing and includes some dancing.




Emerson said that we learn geology the morning after an earthquake. There is a movement afoot to ensure that high school students don’t wait that long.

Ten Michigan universities give credit to those high school students who prepare for and pass a particular geology examination. In fact, since 2001, 1,334 students have taken this rigorous test with 777 passing, a 58 percent pass rate. Behind those statistics is a story of service.

Stephen Mattox, GVSU professor of geology, coordinates this Michigan-based program and proctored the test last year for nine high schools. As he has done for many years, from mid-May to mid-June he spends most of his month supporting this unfunded initiative which helps both to challenge and accelerate students and to serve the pipeline for the field he loves.

“Those who pass can apply for credit after their first semester at GVSU,” Steve explained. “It is somewhat similar to an AP Test and counts for GEO 111.”  While most Michigan universities award credit, a couple have problematic approval processes, despite the support of their own geology departments.

“Funding this program is also a challenge. Two National Science Foundation grants help to support it at a dozen or more high schools that have quality geology or Earth sciences classes. Program such as Hudsonville High School have been managing to provide this opportunity for some years and are to be congratulated,” Steve said. “Two schools were new last year. Forest Hills Central had 54 students take the exam and Kenowa Hills had 49.”

In fact, two GVSU alumni are among the teachers about to make this level of geology instruction a reality at their schools. Brad Stevens in Zeeland and Ashley Meyer in Hamilton plan to teach the preparatory course in 2018-2019. Steve is supporting their course development with another GVSU graduate Chris Bolhuis. Together they have submitted an abstract to the Michigan Science Teachers Association proposing to merge the Next Generation Science Standards with a college physical geology course.

Geology is often a major that students discover once they arrive in college because some have not had experience of the field during their K-12 education. The preparatory course and the exam with the potential to earn them college credit seem to be moving this timeline up for some students.

Steve notes that between ten and twelve students a year come to Grand Valley with this exam as part of their trajectory. “About 10 percent of our majors got credit,” Steve noted.

The effect has even spread beyond Michigan. Montana State now awards credit to those who pass the exam.

Students who have gone on to doctoral programs are now tapped to return to their high schools to discuss the program.

“One of the teachers is in the Target Inquiry program,” Steve observed. Target Inquiry, a grant funded program at GVSU administered by Deborah Herrington of chemistry, is a program for teachers to explore how to bring more experimental science into their courses, in short, helping them to be scientists with their students.

“You need the right teacher in the right system with the right support. There are potentially good collaborative partners in districts so this also encourages good networking. My goal is to make it sustainable. Perhaps I can partner with a computer science professor to produce an online version of the test,” he mused. Steve is already thinking about future grants and possible co-authors he’d like to bring into the program.

“And I might publish about this because we have the data.”

Like Atlas holding up the Earth, Steve has been doing some heavy lifting for the sake of geology, but instead of the weight of the job, he is quick to acknowledge the good fortune he feels working with such fine educators.