CLAS Acts March 2008

Monthly Faculty Newsletter

March 2008
Volume 1, Issue 7 

Our Mission: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.  

CLAS Dean's Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty  

 From the Dean's Desk

Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 

As March arrives with a few more inches of snow, I'm holding on, reluctantly, to Santayana's sentiment that "[t]o be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring."   Nonetheless, I'm scraping snow away from the early shoots that are first welcome prophets of the spring to come.  On that note, I wanted to make sure the entire faculty is aware that through efforts made on your behalf, we are looking at some changes you will notice that will make life better.  First, a big "hear hear" to Sherril Soman for making the case that Banner checking of course prerequisites should be fast-tracked.   This is trickier than it sounds, of course, and Sherril worked very productively on this issue for us so we could address the technical concerns involved.  The change will require some work on the part of units, but far less than in the past, and the effort will be applied to issues that really require faculty scrutiny and guidance rather than the checking of thousands of records to hunt down a small number of anomalies.  Students have been informed that this is coming (you may have seen the recent article in The Lanthorn).  As with any new procedure, we are likely to learn a few lessons for the future, so your patience with this process is appreciated. But Sherril has saved us a lot of work, and in the bargain has improved and focused the process.  Yay, Sherril!!!   In a similar vein, we have just instituted two online forms which will reduce drudgery and decrease the chance for error.  Staff and faculty time will be saved by the recently implemented on-line registration for Sabbatical Showcase presenters (I look forward to seeing you at this terrific display of faculty accomplishment even if you're not presenting!  You'll be hearing more about the April 18 Showcase and general CLAS faculty meeting soon).  Another on-line form has been launched on our website to allow faculty to nominate for governance committees.  The CLAS Faculty Council is enthusiastic about the time this will save them in the running of the election.  Our Director of Communication and Advancement Monica Johnstone has been working on these projects with the GVSU web team.

For me, the month of March means finishing up hiring, diving into salary recommendations and working on personnel cases.  Associate Dean Cimitile will be helping units with assessment as well as their strategic planning/self-study, and pre-req fast-tracking.  She'll also be moving ahead with our college planning, continuing work with the CLAS Curriculum Committee, helping implement new College of Ed standards in the curriculum (with Jann Joseph), assisting with our contributions to the NCA self-study, progressing the implementation of the  CLAS Academic Advising Center, and teaching her Feminist Philosophy class.  Associate Dean Stark will be reviewing visiting positions for next year, assisting with the faculty recruitment, salary adjustment, and personnel processes, facilitating the CLAS Election, and monitoring enrollments for 2008-09.  Associate Dean Joseph will be finalizing the 2008 shuffle for all CLAS units including those moving into the new academic building, collaborating with CoE to develop a comprehensive minor and revise the major for elementary teachers, preparing for CLAS' year end meeting and Sabbatical Showcase, and facilitating grants development.  Whew!   The CLAS website now sports six new faculty video moments.  These rotate onto our homepage ( and will be available all together on a linked page soon.  My thanks to Craig Benjamin (History), John Kilbourne (Movement Science),  Elena Lioubimtseva (Geography), Brad Ambrose (Physics), Stephen Rowe (Philosophy), and Arthur Campbell (Music) for participating.  Our colleague Kim Roberts has made all this possible and has brought the expertise of several other Film and Video faculty to bear on this project for us.  A few of the faculty who were invited to participate this round, but could not, have assured us that they'd like to do so in the future when their schedules allow.  As it grows, we hope this project will give our website a dynamic window to present the amazing quality of the CLAS faculty.   These are just a few of the early flowers springing up for CLAS.  The month is full of wonderful events, such as "The End of the Republic" by the Evolution for Everyone Group on the 13th,  "Lost Wax/Found History: Modern Technology and Ancient History" to be held at Meijer Gardens on the 18th,  the CLAS Research Colloquium on the 20th and departmental colloquia in several departments as well as many performances and gallery shows which are detailed on the monthly CLAS Happenings poster sent to your departmental office.    I keep telling myself "spring will come."  In some happy and portentous ways, thanks to our faculty, perhaps it's already here.  

Featured Faculty

First Endowed Chair for the College-a study in dedication, engagement and inspired collaboration

Steven Sorman, distinguished artist and printmaker, is the initial occupant of the first fully endowed chair in CLAS, the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Chair in Art & Design.  While he is certainly bringing his expertise to students in areas one might expect, such as painting, he has already found ways to collaborate in an array of disciplines and departments in the College including Music, the School of Communications, and Writing. Steven describes himself as having a keen interest in cross-disciplinary collaboration and believes that "as their preamble to performing in the world outside the university," our students should "get used to traveling in fast company, and to developing ideas and work in the company of dedicated, engaged and inspired peers." In his home department, Steven has big plans for papermaking. Drawing on his deep knowledge of paper, Steven proposed setting up a small, professional level papermaking facility for the Art & Design department and teaching a class in the field during his time here at GVSU. He also proposed holding workshops for other departments, other schools, including high schools, related to the paper lab. Professor of Art Dellas Henke is enthusiastic, "Papermaking will be a wonderful addition to our facilities and program as it fits so well with our Strategic Plan in that we are looking for ways to cross disciplines both within our department and with other departments in the university.  School of Com/photography will have particular interest. James Moyer [Director of Facilities Planning] has embraced the plan and has found money for some necessary renovations." As Henke explains, the process has been a two-way street in areas such as Photogravure: "About a year ago Tony Thompson and I began to learn the photogravure process, a middle ground between photography and printmaking. We taught the process to Steven soon after his arrival, and he saw new possibilities in the process right away. David Keister soon became involved. David is a Master Printer and a visiting professor in our department teaching intro to printmaking. For the past 6 months we have all been meeting regularly to develop the process, each in our own unique ways. Steven has been developing the hand drawn gravure, I've been working both with the photo based gravure and with hand drawn, Tony with the photo and digital based methods and David with developing a way of making full color gravures. All of this has trickled down to students where the process is now being taught in intermediate printmaking to both art and some photo students. In order to get more photo students involved Tony and I are doing a workshop in the process for both photo and printmaking students. Recently Ann Mansolino (Photography, Sch. of Comm.), has become involved. Annually our department also invites an internationally known printmaker to visit for a week and make a print. Master printmaker David Keister prints the print for the artist and students become involved with professional level printing process." Associate Professor Jill Eggers is also sold on the benefits of having Steven Sorman's collaboration.  Eggers and Sorman have been team teaching Painting for the past year (W 07, F 08, and W 08). Their course is multi-level, with Intermediate and Advanced levels combined.  Eggers explains, "It's usually preferable for the developing artist to have experience with a range of professors and different teaching approaches, so I was very pleased to have Steven teach in the painting area. It is also a rare opportunity to team teach, and this experience has been a great one for me as well as the students." "Steven and I approach the teaching of painting in different ways. We were both strangers to each other until the day we began teaching together, and we both had some reservations about the other's teaching methodologies, and how they might combine. I tend to be more structured, and Steven tends to be more intuitive. But our reservations quickly fell away as our interactive styles seemed to complement each other very well in the classroom. Part of the value of this experience for the students has been in seeing the two of us interact in our dialogue and responses to their art work. They see that we are willing to disagree and express different viewpoints. They begin to understand that there is no final voice or answer about the way a work of art may be read and understood, and they also see patterned an informed professional discussion, where similar visual experiences are also often expressed, in different styles or terms." Eggers and Sorman extended the team method to include workshops with creative writing students and faculty last semester. Assignments for their courses explored the relations between painting and poetry. Dr. Patricia Clark's Painting and Poetry class worked with their class over the course of the semester, outside of class time, to explore relations among these art forms. Eggers describes the dynamic, "Patricia taught painters to write a poem; I taught poets to use oil paint, and Steven did a multi-disciplinary piece with all the students and the Music department [in collaboration with a performance of the GVSU New Music Ensemble]. In addition, we all took the students on a field trip with visiting writer Jim Harrison, to the places of his childhood and to some that come up in his writing, and based a project on that experience. The work produced by the students from that project will be exhibited in Fall 2008 in Lake Ontario Hall." Sorman has turned these collaborations into additional creative undertakings, "As a personal project I am working with Patricia Clark on a book. ... Last but not least, I would like to see a program or seminar developed that would put the very best writing, visual arts, music and theater students together."  Reminiscent of the Wagnerian "Gesamtkunstwerk", Sorman seems a natural at putting arts of all kinds together in exciting and productive projects that come quickly to fruition. Dellas Henke is quick to point out that Steven has made and is making some wonderful enduring contributions to GVSU in other ways, too.  "Steven was a regular artist producing work at Tyler Graphics, perhaps the most important printmaking studio and print publisher of the second half of the 20th C. internationally. Steven just negotiated the gifting of about 50 prints from the collection of Ken Tyler at Tyler Graphics to the University. The gift is a huge boon to the university's print collection/print cabinet. He is also working on the gift of the entire Tyler Graphics slide collection so we will have a record of the entire output of the Tyler Graphic's accomplishments. Once we have the slides they will be digitized and available to all scholars through our library. This indeed is an amazing second gift, not only a boon to our art and art history students but also to scholars anywhere in the world." Steven Sorman has made the benefits to the college of this endowed chair palpable, inspiring and far-reaching.  Henke concludes: "The point to note here is what I consider the IDEAL situation at the university level, a group of professors from different departments, visiting artists, and students all learning together, sharing knowledge and producing outcomes from the work. The process is on going and indeed we are all improving. Indeed, if we are not the leaders in this exciting new technical area we are one of the leaders in it. The process is a unique combination of drawing, as old as human-kind, intaglio printmaking - 500 years old, early photo technologies - 150 years old and the latest digital technologies. It also involves paper, and when that facility is set up we will incorporate that technology as well, developing since the 13th Century in the western world.  We have an outstanding example of Steven, the Padnos Chair, being deeply involved in an exciting, evolving new process and working with others as part of a team to spread the word."