CLAS Acts May 2017

CLAS Acts May 2017 banner displaying flowers


Ars longa, vita brevis

As you emerge from grading and turn the corner into whatever is next for you in spring and summer, I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate everyone on a job well done in the year of our largest incoming class.  Some of my strongest memories will include discussions of what we look for in a provost; the recognition our faculty received in the form of Fulbrights and teaching awards; inspiring sabbatical projects at the Showcase; highly collaborative projects such as the production of Helen; seeing our student worker Jake in Sweeney Todd; and the activism of our faculty, students, and staff in getting out the vote and marching for science.  

I’ll also remember how well our colleagues in BMS pulled together and supported our students and each other when we suddenly lost a cherished colleague.  That was unmistakably work done from the heart.

It was a year with its challenges, to be sure, but you did a great deal of good. Some of that good can be measured now and some will play out over the lifetimes of our students.  That’s the nature of our profession.  

Special thanks to all of you who came out for one of the commencements in the new system.  Makes for a long couple days, but it is hard to argue with giving families the ability to see their students become new graduates of whom they are so rightfully proud.  Thanks for your key role in facilitating all these futures.

Wishing you a refreshing and productive summer.

All In at the Speech Lab

The title of the recent National Association of Communication Centers (NACC) conference hosted by Grand Valley’s Speech Lab was “More than a Space: Empowerment at the Center.”  That title also describes what our Speech Lab has achieved in only three short years.

At a previous conference in April 2016, Speech Lab Director Carl Brown and Professor Danielle Leek heard the call for hosting future conferences and knew they should go for it.  They were soon reserving spaces and a block of hotel rooms and making the bid.  

“Danielle’s later decision to leave GVSU and take an opportunity with Campus Compact made the prospect of running the conference more daunting, but Dean Antczak suggested that lifting with many hands was the way to go,” Carl explains.  

The many hands were those of the undergraduates who work as Speech Lab Consultants.  Soon he had specialized teams such as Social Media, Outreach, and Registration concentrating on all aspects of conference preparation and learning a great deal in the process.  “Everyone had a job to do, so it was a true group effort to make this happen in about three months,” Carl says.  “The feedback has been great.” 

This modus operandi suited Carl’s usual practice of advising students to make their work in the Speech Lab enhance their career goals.  “We put together a plan so that they gain experience in areas that will enable them to give great responses to questions at interviews.  I also try to find an appropriate title for their contribution—so an Advertising/PR major might become our Social Media Promotions Coordinator, for instance.” 

Carl and consultants have been engaged with the NACC conferences since the Grand Valley Speech Lab started.  Participating in research is highly encouraged so Carl and the consultants dove in.  

“Ari Zucker’s paper won the first year,” Carl beams.  “Danielle and I won for faculty paper the second year which seemed to motivate the students.”  The level of participation this year shows the fruits of that motivation:

  • Chantal Shaw, Ashley Rapp, Jane Ulrey, & Jeannine Lane (GVSU) “Partnering with Greek Life to Advance the Center”
  • Dr. Laura Stengrim, Mo Ismail (University of Southern Mississippi), Dr. Carl Brown (GVSU), and Skye Gregory-Hatch (GVSU) “Specialized Speaking Skills: Discipline and Instructor-Specific Preferences”
  • Kelsey Hines (GVSU) “S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Writing Treatment Goals for Clients”
  • Isaac Simon and Carolyn Andre (GVSU) “The Silent Advantage: Nonverbal Communication and Peer-to-Peer Consultation”
  • Isaac Simon & Kelsey Hines (GVSU) “Accommodating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Communication Centers: The Development of Video Modeling Techniques”
  • Skye Gregory-Hatch (GVSU) “Social Anxiety within a Speech Consulting Setting”
  • Consultant Personal & Professional Development at the Center (121E) Panelists (all GVSU): Alec Schlitt, Elizabeth Konen, Justin Sims, Samantha Radecki, Jordan Boze
  • Ari Zucker (GVSU) “The Relationship between Rhetorical Devices and Speaker Empowerment”
  • Ashley Rapp & Brittany Costantini (GVSU) “Virtual Learning: Assessing the Need for Video Consultations” [winner of the undergraduate research paper award, pictured above] 

Consultant Ashley Rapp put her research to a very realistic test this term when junior Jake Walton needed an appointment with the Speech Lab for his COM 201 class, but was waiting for a broken leg to heal.  Testing the virtual consultation concept both allowed Jake to complete his Speech course and Ashley to see that not quite face-to-face consultations could indeed be effective. 

So while the cosy space at 154 Lake Michigan Hall and office hours in the Steelcase Library might seem like a small operation, Speech Lab is a vital hub of student empowerment both for undergraduate clients seeking help with their presentations and for the student consultants who are so actively engaged in peer support and undergraduate research of direct benefit to our lab as well as their academic and career aspirations. 

“I know it works,” states CLAS Director of Communications and Advancement Monica Johnstone who taught a section of Speech in winter 2017.  “I have all of my students attend Speech Lab at least twice because it makes a measurable difference.  A couple of my students made five or more visits because they found it such a valuable confidence-building experience.  It is very powerful to have a peer who is not grading you provide feedback.  The empowerment they get will be an asset for their whole lives.” 

Carl knows it is a powerful experience for the student consultants, too.  Their level of engagement with each other is high, and the work takes their own speaking to a higher level.  Few might guess that the Speech Lab would become a hub of research activity from its inception, but once you have conquered what is the number one fear for many, it would seem that the sky is the limit.