CLAS Acts Sept. 2011

September 2011
Vol. 5, issue 2

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 Faculty Research Colloquia: 2:30-5:00pm, 308 PAD Meet colleagues in other departments and enjoy the varied program and Dean-sponsored nibbles. Fri., Sept. 16, 2011 Fri., October 14, 2011 Fri., November 18, 2011 Thurs., Jan. 19, 2012 Thurs., February 16, 2012 Thurs., March 15, 2012.  

CLAS Sabbatical Forum Learn about the sabbatical process. 308 PAD Sept. 29, 3:30-5pm  

New Campus Directory Online
In an effort to print fewer annual campus directories and provide enhanced searching options for the People Finder directory, a new release of People Finder is available to internal GVSU employees.  This directory is separate from the public People Finder and access to this site requires your GVSU network login and password. This enhanced version provides ALL of the same access to data that the printed campus directory has.  It provides unlimited, unrestricted lists when searching within departments and advanced search functionality including 'sounds like' lookup.  Please check it out at: or off of the GVSU Home Page, click on Faculty & Staff, then Campus Directory on the Quick Links.


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

A recent article in the American Scholar spoke provocatively about the need for solitude as part of effective leadership.  While I'm not quite sure that the relatively quiet hallways of the summer amount to solitude (perhaps less harried teamwork is more accurate), I am happy to report that the time to think and work has been very productive in the College office-as I suspect it has been for you, too. It was Thomas Paine who wrote both "These are the times that try men's souls " and "Lead, follow or get out of the way."  This has been a summer of applying a certain Paine-esque common sense. In addition to getting the transition to Outlook finished, we've prepared the annual report (on Teaching & Learning) which will be available this month, performing annual review and maintenance on the CLAS website (now over 300 pages), and closed the financial year.  Associate Dean Mary Schutten is happy to report that instead of a problem for study abroad with the new Faculty Handbook rules about course renumbering, a CLAS proposal helped to fast-track renumbering compliance in a way that has already helped many units to complete the task-and they tell us it was fast and easy.  Fast and easy-that's good. Mary is also happy to report that several faculty in CLAS were interested in using the student response system (AKA clickers) in their courses. IT had an allotment of 2,000 but that was insufficient for the demand. CLAS gathered data on interest, IT options, and possible bookstore involvement that eventually led to an institution-wide program for student response systems, a high impact technology. CLAS was also able to lobby for regular review of Incomplete Grade forms and is continuing to work to create an automated process for incomplete grades that are beyond the time period stated in the catalog.   The process seems a little messy now, but once the cleanup has been completed, we'll have a system going forward that is more realistic and predictable. Mary has also been meeting regularly with colleagues in the College of Education to collaborate on our many areas of joint interest.  In addition to getting the annual tasks completed and fixing up some processes, we've seen steps forward in the material sense.  Associate Dean Shaily Menon (who took on the professional development and facilities portfolio when Jann Joseph ascended into the deanship at EMU) has moved in and acquainted herself with the large building projects in train.  She has also been able to work with units and Facilities to fix some situations that have an effect on students in the classroom-everything from getting broken chairs replaced to providing our newest colleagues with some of the resources they need to get rolling.  Shaily is in no danger of having a boring life-as she was transitioning into the position, the summer flood damage became her first big project.  Many are involved in this (and no one had this in their summer plans!), and we are very grateful for their hard work and excellent attitude in the face of this sudden and dramatic deluge. Associate Dean Gary Stark has been working on one of our international programs, training a student worker to assist in the data entry for the Digital Measures database, and preparing the programs for a meeting of Michigan deans and the annual retreat of our CLAS Unit Heads.  Meanwhile, our COT staff has been planning events, getting hundreds of contracts out, scheduling meeting rooms, updating the database, all while continuing the usual academic processes (such as Late Adds, late grade reports, student appeals) that accompany the Spring and Summer terms. Among other things, I've been meeting with all of the unit heads individually on their goals and sharing these with our staff so that we can all pull together to support our unit heads' success. This is a year in which ground has been broken, building continues, and we have a pretty clear indication of the financial trends as they affect us.  We'll continue to keep you abreast of what this means.  You'll recall the article in the February 2011 CLAS Acts on "How CLAS Prioritizes the Budget and Resources," and we've just talked about budgets at our Unit Heads' Retreat.  In partnership, we will keep our forward momentum and, in the long tradition of GVSU, find ways to achieve our vision despite the pinch.  I'm glad that most of our college's capital is invested between your ears where the interest rate is always excellent.  I wish you a wonderful semester.  It was great to see you at the CLAS Faculty and Staff Meeting and start-up lunch.  I'm sure you'll join me in a big shout out to John Martin and the Laker Marching Band.

Update on New Lab Building  Shaily Menon, CLAS Associate Dean GVSU has received permission from the state to begin planning a new building although the state has not yet agreed to fund the building. Planning is underway for a new lab building of at least 90,000 sq. ft., beginning with the formation of an architect selection committee. The committee reviewed proposals, conducted interviews, and selected an architect firm. A site has not yet been chosen for the building; this will be one of the initial decisions of the project. Last year, our former Associate Dean Jann Joseph conducted meetings with representatives from all relevant departments in CLAS to discuss teaching lab space needs and possible synergies. A space analysis conducted in winter 2011 indicated that moving a large unit (Biology) to a new space and remodeling the vacated space would allow maximum cascading benefits for departments in PAD/HRY and elsewhere on campus. We are gathering data on use of various facilities, such as greenhouse and animal care facilities, to inform decision making and are also compiling data on how the teaching labs and other vacated spaces in PAD/HRY can be used most effectively by other departments. We will be in touch with relevant departments throughout this process and continue to provide periodic updates as they become available.

Meeting for New Research Cluster  As announced in Dean Antczak's opening address ( After the End of the Beginning ), one of this year's initiatives aimed at supporting and streamlining faculty work is new research clusters.  The initial meeting for all interested faculty will launch five clusters (which do have areas of overlap).  Faculty will help determine the scope and purpose of each cluster.  For instance, some might concentrate on collaborative grant seeking, others might serve as writing groups to improve papers intended for publication, others might plan the best use of shared equipment and so forth. With input from faculty, the five initial research clusters are:

BORDERS-- Climate, political, citizenship, migration, refugees, culture, ethnicity

BRAIN--Learning, perception, development, creativity

HEALTH--Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, vocational

URBAN--Planning, Grand Rapids, transition, civic engagement, governance, socio-economic status

WATER--Quality, invasive species, climate change, recreation, resource use

All disciplines are encouraged.  We will invite other GVSU colleges as well as CLAS.  It is assumed that the definition of each cluster will be determined by its participants.  Faculty can participate in more than one group.  Other groups can be conceived and launched later, but we will begin with this manageable scale. Faculty interested in particular clusters are invited to take the initiative to schedule subsequent meetings, define the cluster, and decide on direction for action. Date:  Wednesday, September 14 Time: 12:00pm- 1:30pm Place: 0072 KC (lower level) Style: Bring a brown bag lunch.  Cookies provided by the Dean. Can't make it?  E-mail .  Depending on demand, we'll either add a second meeting or add you to the list of the group of your choice so you will receive subsequent meeting info.  


Crossing Over the 9/11 Anniversary-A Conversation with Polly Diven 

By Monica Johnstone, PhD, Director of CLAS Communications & Advancement  

The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.  ~Mohammed My wonderful college friend Michael Markowitz, always notoriously tardy, was late for work in the World Trade Center that morning.  In an e-mail, he reported that when he came out of his subway station it was raining briefcases and shoes. Though his workplace was gone, his work there was not over.  A civil engineer, he would go on to work to shore up Ground Zero over the coming months.  Meanwhile, I was the only American in a 22nd story office 16,000 kilometers away, noticing the absence of solicitous queries about the welfare of my friends and family from my Australian colleagues, a silence that grew in the next year to an increasingly less well hidden antipathy for all things American. Somehow over the years, I lost track of the plans for the 9/11 memorial.  I'd seen so many artists' renderings of replacement buildings, parks, sculptures, and columns of light that I didn't know which one had been chosen until I received a link to a video about the unveiling that will take place on the tenth anniversary later this month.  Reflecting Absence it's called, the largest manmade waterfall in the United States.  Nearby, already rising above the skyline and headed for a staggering and patriotic 1,776 feet, is Tower One, an architectural poem composed in soaring isosceles triangles. This milestone anniversary is likely to be a journey back for all of us.  And forward.  A reflection on how the world has changed and how it hasn't. Polly Diven, Director of our International Relations Program, agreed to talk to me about the anniversary and its aftermath.  She has a professional interest in anti-Americanism and recently gave a paper in Scotland on the subject ("Hegemony, History or Him?  Evaluating Theories of Anti-Americanism Under New U.S. Leadership").  She was fresh from summer orientation and in the midst of planning fall courses when we spoke.  "We've come so far," she began.  "We were so acutely aware of terrorism, but now it's receded in people's minds."  She has noted the rhetorical shift as well.  President Obama doesn't use the phrase "global war on terror."  "Then, we wondered if terrorism was spreading all over the world.  Now, we are seeing democracy movements, the Arab Spring," Polly remarked. She noted that attitudes shifted very quickly after the attacks.  President Bush called the Geneva Convention "quaint," and populations in allied countries weren't very willing to be part of the coalition, even if their leaders were.  "By 2003, support is over," Polly explained. Her paper for the Scotland conference is full of graphs attesting to the attitudinal shift.   "In places like Great Britain, Italy, Spain-even more marked in places like Venezuela." "In part, this has been ameliorated in the Muslim world and Europe with Obama's presidency."  Professor Diven's tables do show that leaders matter in such things.  "Data on negative attitudes in Europe spike in 2004 after the re-election of Bush." She'll be talking about 9/11 in her classes this semester, particularly in policy terms, particularly the refocusing that went on in late 2001.  Her fall teaching line-up, two sections of US Foreign Policy and the US Foreign Relations Capstone course lend themselves to these considerations.  She'll also teach a one-credit course, primarily to students in the GVSU International House, covering the financial crisis, Arab Spring, comparative international education, and other discussion topics for which the anniversary is a relevant context. The students will look at many kinds of evidence including biography and autobiography, measuring events and attitudes one life at a time as well as using data pulled from many countries at once, as in the graphs in her paper. I promised Polly to share two literary essays that I've found useful in my teaching, both germane to our struggle to wrap our minds around the attacks:  "Leap" by Brian Doyle and "This Is Not Who We Are" by Naomi Shihab Nye. "Now?  I don't know.  This administration has some work to do to help us understand," she says in relation to policy direction.  "Mainstream media is not covering it; also cable TV moves our focus away-you can choose not to [see coverage of our policy outcomes].   That's a difference between Viet Nam coverage and now.  Back then there was a draft; it was a very different situation.  Many students now get their primary news from Comedy Central and Leno." The lack of common ground between the various network news programs has become the subject of assignments in her courses.  She has students monitor various outlets to look for crossover. As the interview winds down, Polly notes in passing that that she and I are of a similar age.  Her reference to the coverage of the Viet Nam conflict resonates for me.  It is a kind of crossover for us.  We talk for a few more moments about whether the coverage of the 9/11 attacks will be a common defining childhood experiences for many of our students or if such things are even possible in our contemporary media environment.  Too early to tell.  

What the Deans Are Doing in September 

In September, Dean Antczak reports that he "will be meeting with the Risk Reduction Task Force, enjoying Labor Day (though I'd rather the students have these two days as a fall break after midterms), attending the first Faculty Council meetings of the new year, helping to kick off our exceptional Fall Arts Celebration with the September 12 "Night in Hapsburg Vienna" and the September 22 visit and lecture by Michael Sandel, participating in Deans' Council, partaking in the Hauenstein Leadership Cabinet meeting and fellows program, attending two unit head meetings, trying to figure out how I can go to both the SCDI Council and the Intercultural Student Reception, attending the September 16 CLAS Research Colloquium, meeting with new unit heads, convening a meeting with GRCC's deans of liberal arts and sciences, conferring with the Woodrow Wilson Fellows, participating in the dean's group on academic advising, participating in a transfers meeting, meeting with University Counsel and the CLAS Personnel Committee to debrief on the year past and look to the year ahead, and of course I'll be a part of the Dean's Office retreat.  So, a light month." AD Shaily Menon will continue to engage with unit heads, faculty, and staff on a variety of initiatives and will continue acquainting herself with unit strategic plan documents and self-studies. She will work with a graduate assistant to collate college-wide data on strategic plans into a database; conduct data-gathering to inform plans for the new lab building; assist units with the new faculty mentoring program; plan orientation sessions for new faculty as well as 2nd and 3rd year faculty; teach a graduate course on landscape ecology, and conduct research with two undergraduate students. AD Mary Schutten will be collaborating with the College of Education on a series of initiatives involving CLAS/COE related to student teaching, teacher tests, secondary admissions, etc. A series of information sessions will be provided jointly for COE/CLAS faculty. She will continue to coordinate the alignment process of units' existing strategic plan objectives with the CLAS strategic plan. She will also be completing for CLAS the Michigan Department of Education paperwork for the comprehensive major (CSAT) which is paired with the COE's special education major. She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support the work of the CLAS curriculum committee as ex officio; participate in fall start up activities including Transitions, facilitate the curricular fast track process for study abroad course designations, and serve as an academic advisor in the exercise science program. She will also continue to work with Records to create more effective and efficient processes for students and units. AD Gary Stark will work with unit heads on Round 1 of scheduling for 2012-13, prepare the forms and processes for personnel actions this year, supervise the unit head evaluations process, organize orientation sessions for new unit heads, assist the Faculty Council, assist with the new faculty orientations, recruit interviewers for the Awards of Distinction Scholarship competitions, attend a MSU symposium on Freshman Seminars Abroad, and participate in the annual conference of the German Studies Association.  

Articles on Academe  Internships: A foot in the door? Check out the new section (Higher Education in the News) on the Provost's  website :  Of special interest:    

It's Not Your Fault 5/31/11    

It's Your Fault 7/15/11