October 2010
Volume 4, Issue 2

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 College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty     

Tech Tips Faculty can attend an IT seminar without leaving their office or  home.  Wimba Wednesdays from 3 - 5 offer a variety of topics for faculty from the Wimba Classroom format.  Most are not about Wimba but other technology of interest.   If they sign up but can't make it they can watch the Archive. Read more...   At the bottom of this newsletter are some very handy tips for presenting your Powerpoint slideshows with more aplomb.          

Great Lakes History Conference is fast approaching  This year's theme is Civil Wars in Domestic and Global Context: Conflict Resolution from the Battlefield to the Home Front and Drs. Eric Foner and Brooks Simpson will be the keynotes .        

Would you like to attend a meeting on Collective Computing? The College is explore how we might help in the area of collective computing.  With a growing number of faculty making use of enormous data sets and computational methodologies, the college wants to look at the most cost effective and streamlined ways of supporting the work of these faculty members.  We're hoping to gather the appropriate relevant parties to  see what needs we have and possibilities for synergy.  If you would like to be invited, please e-mail clas@gvsu.edu .      

East Lakes Division Regional Conference of the   Association of American Geographers The Geography and Planning Dept. will host the East Lakes Division Regional Conference of the Association of American Geographers on 10/22 and 10/23. Researchers, Faculty, undergrad and grad students will be attending from across Michigan and Ohio to present research. There are opportunities for networking.  Please encourage students and former students to present their research/posters. Student Registration is usually $30.00, but GVSU Students will receive a special reduced registration fee of $10.00.   Registration and Abstract Deadline:  October 8, 2010 There will be a special series of sessions on "Great Lakes Sand Dunes: Contemporary Processes and Geomorphic History" hosted by Prof. Edward Hansen of Hope College with a related Sat. afternoon field trip. For more details email: wagendoj@gvsu.edu Also, there will be session regarding National Science Foundation funding proposals by a program officer.           Akalu Tefera                                                                                  


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

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

One of the things I always like about October is that the conversations all seem to be fully underway at this time of the year.  We just heard our distinguished lecturer Jill Ker Conway talk about "The Next 50 Years in the World"-starting a larger anniversary-year-long consideration of the next 50 years.  We begin October with the first of three Out-of-the-Box discussions on Academic Integrity which will give a richness of perspective to the efforts underway to strengthen our university on this important topic.  Faculty in our departments are working on the points of alignment between their hopes and aspirations for their units within the context of their citizenship in the college and the university.  Healthy considerations all. You may have noticed on the website that we currently have two taskforces working on behalf of CLAS; in both cases, the immediate beneficiaries will be students and faculty.  One is considering the optimal use of 500 level classes and the other is looking into risk reduction for internships, service learning, field work, study abroad, and similar "high impact instructional practices"; and developing resources and recommendations for departments, unit heads and faculty going forward.   Meanwhile, thanks to Gretchen Galbraith the work of a previous taskforce, GrIT, is being sharing more widely;  a panel of some of its participants will speak about their experience at the conference of the West Michigan Presidents' Compact Committee.  Like CLAS faculty governance, some materially beneficial and really impressive work comes out of our taskforces. You have probably read about  Cayuse in The Bright Side of Grants newsletter from the Office of Sponsored Programs.  Or  perhaps you have heard that some of your colleagues undertook training in this spectacular new software package that takes quite a bit of the drudgery out of filling out the forms associated with many grant applications.  The Office of Sponsored Programs (formerly Grants Administration, if you're keeping score) within the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence is working hard to make the early adopters applications work smoothly and provide valuable feedback.  Soon they'll be making training options accessible to you including a video of the first training session.  Jann Joseph and Monica Johnstone in the College office have undertaken the training and feel pretty excited about the big step forward for scholars that Cayuse represents. You may have already or soon will receive in your department copies of the new annual CLAS report, this time with a focus on providing samples of the service work of the college.  We are delighted that, with the help of Digital Measures, we were able  to bring some previously unsung heroes forward.  Speaking of DM, a special round of applause should go to the summer student workers in our office and in some of yours who helped to enter faculty data.  We have heard that the experience engendered an even greater appreciation for the many forms faculty work.  These front-end investments of effort are already starting to pay off for us.  Speaking of investments, it was good to see many of you sporting your "donor" badges at the recent ground-breaking ceremony for the almost paid for Mary Idema Pew Library and Information Commons.  While we won't be able to dive into the 150,000 books on the open shelves and the 600,000 additional books in the on-site retrieval system (many of them coming back to immediate availability from their current off-site storage locations) until sometime in 2013, we have achieved forward momentum on this project and the ones directly behind it on the priority list.  CLAS--our students, our faculty--will be an extraordinary beneficiary of the new Library.  Onward!   Deans in October Dean Fred Antczak has a very full schedule of events in October including, the Distinguished  Alumni-in-Residence program, the third HOMERathon, the Up from the Bottoms showing in Loosemore Auditorium ("gotta see an award winning film!"), Art Gallery Exhibition II, the CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium, the Scholarship Celebration, Poetry Night, and the Undergraduate Research Fair.  He will be welcoming the ELDAAG conference and attending meetings of the Board of Trustees, the University Leadership Team, the Committee on Transfers, the Deans' Academic Advising Group and the Hauenstein Leadership program.  He also has marked October 1 and 28 in his calendar for the Out-of-the-Box discussions.   AD Mary Schutten will continue to coordinate the alignment process for the CLAS strategic plan through a panel presentation at the unit head's meeting and collaborate with the Provost's Office to refine the process and materials for the units to use during the upcoming AY.   She will also continue to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests; support the CLAS Curriculum Committee; revise a manuscript on body mass, socioeconomic standing, fitness and academic achievement and continue with other research in progress.  She will also finalize plans for a health education workshop presented by the Midwest AHPERD at the Michigan AHPERD event slated for mid-November.   AD Gary Stark will be recruiting interviewers for "Awards of Distinction" scholarship competitions, overseeing scheduled evaluation of unit heads, assisting with course scheduling for 2011-12, and monitoring enrollments for Winter 2011.   AD Jann Joseph will be hosting the CLAS Distinguished Alumni, supporting CLAS' Risk Reduction Taskforce, attending a CCAS workshop on supporting a research culture, supporting faculty mentoring, and planning new faculty orientation events.  

Faculty Feature

A Strong Combination

by Monica Johnstone, Director of CLAS Communications & Advancement 

If you missed the relevant season one episode of the TV series Numb3rs and if you aren't a mathematician, you might not have heard of the field of combinatorics. Happily for GVSU, Akalu Tefera, Associate Professor of Mathematics, is not only studying this field involving the permutations of sets, combination and enumeration, he has been enthusiastically spreading the word to students. Akalu explains combinatorics as "how objects are arranged, the finding of formulae that minimize waste. For instance, how many ways can you line up 100 people? We design algorithms for that. Some of the expressions are very complex-so these days, computers help." Akalu came to GVSU in 2000 after finishing his PhD at Temple University (his bachelors and masters degrees are from Addis Ababa University) and has distinguished himself ever since. A member of the CLAS Personnel Committee, and a 2005 Summer Scholar mentor, Akalu is also notable for spending his 2006-2007 sabbatical year at MIT working in his specialty. In an article celebrating his time at MIT, His departmental newsletter reported that his time at MIT was meant "to increase his understanding of this branch of mathematics in order make connections with his own expertise in computer algebras and use techniques from the field of computer algebras to solve problems in algebraic combinatorics. He met this goal and also had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and test his newly gained knowledge as they worked together to solve problems. He also hopes to incorporate ideas he learned into accessible student-research problems for undergraduates to solve." That he has done. In 2009 and 2010, he has been heavily involved in the highly successful Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. In 2005-2009, Ed Aboufadel, chair of the GVSU Mathematics Department received funding from the National Science Foundation in the amount of $292,780 to build on, as he described, a decade of successful research with undergraduates on mathematically significant projects. Co-PI Steve Schlicker, along with Paul Fishback, Clark Wells, Matt Boelkins, Will Dickinson, Jonathan Hodge, Filiz Dogru, Shelly Smith, and Akalu Tefera all participated in this vibrant program that has led to over a dozen publications since 2002. In 2010, Akalu Tefera was involved in a program organized by the Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University which hosted a National Security Agency summer REU program. Akalu explains that these programs allow students to see "the real side of mathematics at a higher level-graduate or higher." He finds the work very rewarding for the students and a great recruitment tool for interesting them in his own specialty combinatorics. "We have a great program here with students involved in several different types of work," Akalu says, noting that he always learns something too. Faculty present their own ideas and problems to be solved. Some of the areas include geometry, voting, image processing, medical applications, and of course, combinatorics. The students make a choice and work with the relevant faculty member. The students read the key literature in the area to familiarize themselves. Akalu hopes that students will appreciate that this method can help do jobs that would be very time intensive to do manually. Then there is a process of refining and evaluating. This takes them into the realm of experimental mathematics which has some exciting overlaps with other sciences. Students come to appreciate the combinatorial arguments and use computers to validate as they apply these methods to open problems. They sometimes make use different techniques on a problem previously approached in another way, often arriving at a good short and elegant proof. This leads to opportunities to present their work at different venues both local and at the Michigan Undergraduate Conference. Last October, one of the students won an award for the work. Communication to a general audience is seen as an important culminating experience. Akalu observes the direct link between the research experience and greater interest in the subject. If the proof is in the pudding, then recent alumni of this experience going on to MSU and Notre Dame for further study is a strong indication. Akalu clearly sees the benefit of many kinds of collaboration-in his own research and in sharing with other teachers through teaching seminars and within his department. He especially likes that GVSU honors all three areas, teaching, research and service. He allows himself be influenced through all three, citing in particular that he has become more student centered since 2005 when he had his first S3 experience. It shows. He finishes the interview with a plug for the October 9th 13th Annual Michigan Undergraduate Conference  to be held in DeVos with the support of the Mathematical Association of America, GVSU and NSF.

Tips:  Slide show shortcuts To do this                                           

Press Start a presentation from the beginning.                     

F5 Go to slide number.                                                   

number+ENTER Display a blank black slide, or return to the presentation from a blank black slide.                                                                         

B or PERIOD Display a blank white slide, or return to the presentation from a blank white slide.                                                                        

  W or COMMA Erase on-screen annotations.                                     

E Change the pointer to a pen.                                      

CTRL+P Change the pointer to an arrow.                                  

CTRL+A Change the pointer to an eraser