March 2012
Vol. 5, issue 8

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.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty E-newsletter

CLAS Sabbatical Forum Learn what you need to know about applying for a sabbatical Thursday, March 29,  3:30-5pm, 308 PAD.  

Writing Center-- Faculty Writing Support Registration forms are now available for the week-long writing retreats we offer to faculty and staff each spring and summer. With quiet time to write and feedback when you need it, these retreats are offered between semesters so you can focus on your research and writing. Retreats run April 30-May 4 and August 6-10. Details and registration: Also, we're facilitating a 3-day "mini-retreat" for faculty and staff wanting to dive into a writing project over spring break. Contact Lisa at 331-2922 if you would like to reserve a seat at this event, which runs Wed-Fri of spring break, 9-5 each day, with lunches provided. Need one-to-one coaching on your writing, or an interested reader to give you feedback on conference presentations, book chapters, articles, and dissertations? Contact Michelle Sanchez at Michelle has 6 years of consulting experience and a graduate degree in English.  

SAVE THE DATE- CLAS on the Green, golf outing at The Meadows afternoon of June 20, 2012, all proceeds benefit CLAS Scholarships.


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

"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush."  
-  Doug Larson

More each year I've been here at GVSU, I have the intoxicatingly springlike  sense that our faculty and students are moving into the new--to act on a wider stage, expand their horizons, and excel further and faster.

We've had some inspiring examples of this phenomenon this month.  A sophomore Film & Video student, James Jackson was the  grand-prize winner in's Come Alive video contest.  This news was covered in at least a dozen media outlets.  Our world-first production of a new translation of Antona Garcia is the only US representative at the prestigious 2012 international Spanish Golden Age Drama Festival at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas.

And faculty have been grasping the brass ring of grant funding at a rate of expansion that is pretty impressive.  In 2011 you attempted $5,207,216 worth of grants and got a little under 80% of the dollar figure attempted.  This year we attempted (so far!) $6,598,670.   No one should underestimate the effort that goes into grant writing--and no one should fail to be thankful for the huge amount of help delivered by the CSCE crew-like the first crocus, so small in size but so powerful in impact and implication.  

It is perhaps a little old fashioned to talk about human potential--it isn't the current management buzz term.  And yet that is what I see when faculty find ways to fund their big ideas, and when students attempt great achievements and find success.  For instance our Gilman Scholar-Courtney Hart, a senior history major-is following her interest in East Asian Studies not only through her minor but also by studying in Taiwan. 

This month we will celebrate our authors at the library's annual author reception.  We will learn who is to be honored by the Women's Commission.  The participants in our Sabbatical Showcase--our largest ever! --will be preparing their displays.  They are like the hyacinths that push through the snow-beautiful in their own right and a motivating sign of things to come. This year we will be producing our college's Quadrennial Report--a great time to celebrate how far we've come, the new tools we've developed to make the job easier, and, more importantly, to keep the emphasis of the job we do precisely where it belongs-and also a good chance to note the opportunities our students have now.  

So this is no time to be shy about your best stories and photographs.  We can't be exhaustive in this report, you do so many good things that all of them can't be featured, but we want to show the richness of what is going on here to our many important constituencies. Oddly, as the days grow longer and Daylight Savings Time approaches, it begins to seem that much easier to get everything done.  As the March lion gives way to the lamb, I hope you find that this has been a rewarding semester and that the students have made excellent progress.  I hope similar reflections accompany your scholarly, creative and service work. Soon, I promise, we will have tulips!

What the Deans Are Doing in March

Dean Antczak plans a leisurely spring break communing with renewal, promotion and tenure portfolios.  He'll interrupt that reverie to welcome our first adjudicated dance concert.  After break, salary categories come cascading down on his desk, and the accreditation team from NASAD visits, as do the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship people.  There will be a couple unit head meetings in March, the CLAS Research Colloquium, the PSM meeting, the transfer committee meeting, Grants on the Grand, a whole bunch of 1 to 1 meetings, the Deans' meeting on Academic Advising, then the visit of Physics' external consultants, the author recognition ceremony, Faculty Council's March meeting, and the meeting of the academic deans.  In some ways, it looks like March is the cruelest month; it's at least among the busiest. AD Gary Stark will assist the CLAS Personnel Committee, facilitate the personnel review process, and write summaries of all tenure & promotion decisions.  He will also facilitate the work of the CLAS Faculty Council and supervise the Winter CLAS governance elections, review sabbatical eligibility for 2013-14, review requests for and allocate visiting positions for 2012-13, assist with the salary adjustment process and salary recommendations, meet with external Physics consultants, and monitor enrollments for Spring/Summer. AD Mary Schutten will be supporting student success by continuing to work with Records to create efficiencies. She will resubmit a SPA report for NCATE review (teacher preparation program) of the School Health Education minor, and continues as a member of the PTEAC committee. She will be coordinating the curricular proposals related to the ED 431 pilot program.   She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support the work of the CLAS curriculum committee as ex officio, support the work of the CLAS Academic Advising Center, interviewing candidates for various CLAS positions, and serve as coordinator for the School Health Education minor for Movement Science.  She will present a paper at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in Boston. In March, AD Shaily Menon will continue interviews of search candidates, participate in external evaluator visits, and attend CLAS faculty colloquium. She will facilitate a new faculty seminar on advising for 1st year faculty and a seminar on high impact activities and study abroad for 2nd and 3rd year faculty. Together with members of the advisory board, she will interview students for scholarships as part of the NSF S-STEMS grant "Mentoring, Academic Support and Scholarships for Science Students (MAS4)". She will serve as an arbitrator for Science Olympiad. She will share information with unit heads and faculty from a proposal development workshop in DC on funding opportunities and strategies for obtaining funding for the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.


Translation and the Collaborative Art of the Play

Spanish Golden Age playwright Tirso De Molinas had a passionate grasp of characterization.  So much so, in fact, that he gave us a character in Don Juan who would inspire opera, legend, and popular culture across time and place.  So it might surprise us to learn that not all of his drama had been translated into English.  Antona Garcia, despite its compelling heroine, political intrigue, and vibrant action, remained an untranslated play in large part because its ending lacked a crucial something. Assistant professor of Spanish Jason Yancey and assistant professor of theatre James Bell to the rescue! In a working relationship Bell describes as symbiotic, this pair dove into the glorious but troubled script to seek the deeper structures of the story and bring it in a playable fashion to the stage at GVSU.  Yancye found a new passion: "I have worked with Early Modern Theater for many years and in many capacities before, as a scholar, educator, director and performer, but this is the first time I have undertaken the task of translation, something I very quickly discovered a great passion for. It made me reevaluate everything I thought I knew about the field in a way that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on my future scholarship and teaching. I'm very excited to find more un-translated literary gems and introduce them to a new generation." Bell, the dramaturg, notes, "For me this collaboration has been really rewarding in what it has taught me about the nature of translation: translating past words into a different language, translating ideas when words are insufficient, translating concepts to parallel concepts a modern audience would understand, and translating story. At times we've had to develop a hierarchy of priorities with the translation, with the primary priority being the spirit of the play and its Golden Age context. Where we needed to develop an ending and make the play workable for an audience much more used to visuals than words, we've had to really dissect what the play was about and what was important to Tirso in telling this story. I believe that has guided us in how we have adapted the play. So, that for me has been educational and has caused me to think further about the whole nature of translating, about how ideas and concepts are more primal than the words chosen to convey them. So translating has been at its core more about translating ideas than matching words." Theatre is among the most collaborative of the arts, so the contributors soon widened to include the director, Professor Karen Libman, and a strong cast.  "As this has moved away from Jason and my private work into the public forum of theatre production," Bell explains, "it has continued to be a fascinating exercise in the development of new art. Karen is very adept at conceiving text into visual theatre production. She has also been really beneficial to the play development process in that she brings a new eye to the text, an eye really focused on connecting the story to the audience through the bodies and words of the performers." The play's physical demands are considerable, including not only battle scenes but also giving birth.  This drama asks a great deal of its young actors, but the rewards have already been great-- even before it goes up on the Louis Armstrong stage.  This production was the only one in the United States selected to perform at the prestigious 2012 international Spanish Golden Age Drama Festival at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, March 6-8.  The production created such a stir that not one but two performances will take place at the festival.  A federal grant for travel was secured and students found themselves with very special plans for Spring Break. Bell reflects upon the impact of the experience, "First, there were areas where I have been inexperienced that have caused more work than I expected to facilitate taking such a large group to El Paso to perform. Second, the production has proven more challenging than I would have thought, or at least more complex, but that has brought greater rewards. I have learned more about this play and have come to really like it and enjoy it. I think it will be a really engaging and entertaining piece that the audience will thoroughly enjoy. I think it will also be a life-shaping educational experience for all of the students involved." The opening at GVSU has garnered the excitement of not only the English language press in west Michigan, but also the Spanish language media. Bell also recognizes the benefit of the experience to the students.  "I believe for the students involved that this has been a really unique experience. I've worked before with new material but not with new translated material. Dramaturgs in production often sit as a representative for the playwright and for the context of the original production, acting in part as a liaison between the original text and context and the present production and context. So, in a sense Jason and I represent Tirso and classical Spain, but we also have a level of ownership to these English words and this story we have adapted. For the students, there is the additional responsibility of not only creating characters, but seeing those characters develop with more plasticity than with a tried and true text. They are recognizing their own role in not only developing characters for this production but putting an imprint onto how the characters will be and remain in the text. That's a level of involvement within the creation process actors don't always have access to. That is a really valuable educational experience for them to see theatre at its earliest genesis. They are learning more about the nature of theatre art from this experience than we could teach them in a classroom."  Yancey agrees, "I think that through this kind of penetrating study of the plays they've really come to make the literature literally come to life in a real, lasting and personal way. I'm sure they will remember some of their lines for many years to come." It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and a play is very much like a child raised by a sizable one.  "Despite all the challenges this project has faced (and there have been many over the past year)," Yancye says, "there has been one tremendous positive to emerge above the rest: I love Grand Valley! There were many moments along the way where the powers that be could have pulled the plug on their support, and with good reason, but no one did. No one even suggested such a thing. The Theater department accepted the play and moved forward publicizing it as part of their upcoming season with little more than my description of the plot to go on. Modern Languages and Literatures gave tremendous support to a creative project far outside the realm of what they normally do. Fred Antczak and the dean's office, along with Bob Smart and CSCE kept the project financially afloat while we waited for confirmation from the National Park Service. The same might be said of many others. No one told me the project was too big or too strange or too complicated or unnecessary or simply not of interest. Much to the contrary, everyone in every office has expressed enthusiastic support going forward. That kind of "can-do" "Let's do something amazing" attitude has had a major impact on me. It's given me great faith in the institution I am a part of. When Grand Valley says it supports students having high-impact education experiences or encourages faculty members in their efforts to promote exceptional teaching and scholarship it's not just a fancy pitch-line. I've seen it first-hand. I absolutely believe it! It makes me feel very lucky to be here and eager to do and be more in the years to come!"   Antona Garcia will open at GVSU on Friday, March 30.