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A Professional Refocus: Putting Faculty in the Center

Instructors don’t just teach; they wear many hats. That was the idea behind the Center for Teaching Excellence being rebranded into The Faculty Center.

One of the first things that became evident was that faculty needed support for every aspect of their careers because each individual’s path is unique.

“Part of our continuation of the rebrand is asking things like ‘how can we support faculty who are going up for tenure track and promotion as well as support faculty not on that track?’” says Interim Director and Instructional Designer Michael McCurdy. “We are taking what was done as the Center for Teaching Excellence and expanded the support of the whole faculty.”

For tenure and promotion support, the Center is defining what it means for assistant professors in years one to three of their career and what it looks like to begin thinking about their tenure and promotion packets.

Faculty Center Interim Director and Instructional Designer Michael McCurdy works with new faculty at New Faculty Orientation.
Faculty Center Interim Director and Instructional Services Coordinator Michael McCurdy introduces himself at New Faculty Orientation.

“We are looking at the entire faculty career,” says McCurdy. “We’re also looking at what it looks like for the assistant professor after their third-year review as they go up for tenure, and looking at associate professors in year one to five post tenure. What does it look like as they prepare for the next promotion, and are they contemplating other roles? Are they looking at department chairs and things like that? As for nontenure track faculty, we are also designing support for our junior and senior lecturers and our graduate students.”

Part of this greater support plan includes continuing with and adding to efforts such as teaching with recertification, promoting scholarship, and offering leadership training for those who are looking to become department chairs. 

Another crucial aspect of The Faculty Center’s focus is meeting new technological needs for the different teaching modalities and for greater student engagement whether face-to-face, fully online, or hybrid. 

“We made sure we have fully functional self-service recording studios at both Armstrong and Statesboro. We also have many studio setups including portable options that can be housed in a smaller department area and not take up as much of a footprint,” explains McCurdy. “Those are for faculty who want to create more interactive videos where they can have the presence for students who are fully online or for flipping their classrooms.”

In addition, McCurdy and his team are putting the final touches on what is known as the badging program, but the better name for the new system might be the Faculty Development Tracking Program.

“In this new system, what we’re doing is we’re partnering up with various areas of the college, from IAA to research to the library and so it’s not just the Faculty Center putting on those workshops – rather we have faculty partners coming to help,” says McCurdy. “These areas really help support the new mission of the Faculty Center for research and for those areas of leadership.”

Also part of the new system is the ability for faculty members to better track their workshop participation.

“Faculty partners are able to put in their workshop creation requests that they want to run. We then create a registration dashboard for faculty,” explains McCurdy. “They can register. Partners will take attendance, which then shoots off a long chain of automated processes so faculty can supply qualitative evidence of their participation as well as quantitative. This awards the badges. We are now continuing that model where you can pick and choose what you want.”

Faculty Developer Dr. Larissa Pires works with new faculty members at New Faculty Orientation.
Instructional Services Coordinator Dr. Larissa Pires presents at New Faculty Orientation.

The Faculty Center is committed to training opportunities that can also motivate and add to faculty’s many functions and strengths, such as the upcoming Professional Development Day “Inspired Teaching”, scheduled for January 6, 2023. This event will serve two purposes. First, it’s a motivational day celebrating effective teaching practices for faculty.

“We’re going to talk about student success and engaging with your students,” says Faculty Developer Larissa Pires, Ph.D. “We will also have a pinning ceremony for our faculty who successfully completed the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) grant course.”

Georgia Southern University is one of a few institutions nationally that are part of a grant program from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through ACUE. In the past year, a select number of faculty members did an in-depth, extensive course designed on effective teaching practices.

“We’ve noticed this arch where faculty grew in the discussions in terms of what techniques they can use to engage their students. In the course they have assignments and reflection pieces that they submit,” explains Pires. “ACUE has their own readers, who read and evaluate them. If they pass, they move on to the next module. Those who have completed every requirement of this nationally recognized training will be celebrated for their time and commitment.”

For more information on the Faculty Center and its upcoming Professional Development Day and other resources available to Georgia Southern University faculty, click here.

Last updated: 12/16/2022