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Faculty Development and Grants Team Connects People, Campuses, and Resources

Faculty Development and Grants Team Connects People, Campuses, and Resources October 2, 2014

With a goal of connecting people, campuses, and resources, ACM’s faculty development and grants team of Brian Williams, Rashida Walker, and Ed Finn — all of whom joined the consortial staff within the past several months — have been juggling a schedule of campus visits and meetings, engaging with ACM’s ongoing programs for faculty, and ramping up activities supported by a $2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Brian Williams leads the group as ACM Vice President and Director of Faculty Development and Grant Programs. As an alumnus and former Vice President for Advancement at Knox College, he has a long association with the ACM. Now, though, he’s in a position where he interacts with a wide range of faculty and staff at all 14 member colleges.

Working alongside Williams to keep ACM’s portfolio of grant-funded activities running smoothly is Rashida Walker, Project Manager for Faculty Development and Grant Programs. The team’s third member, Ed Finn, serves as Liaison for Technology in Teaching and Learning, a newly-created position aimed at fostering consortial collaboration to share knowledge and resources in instructional and other technologies to support the colleges’ liberal arts mission.

As a group, Williams, Walker, and Finn have already visited four ACM colleges — Colorado, Knox, Monmouth, and Lake Forest — to meet with deans and associate deans, faculty, instructional technologists, and staff in teaching and learning centers. Finn has individually visited the remaining ten campuses; Williams and Walker hope to get to the remaining ten campuses this fall.

FaCE 3 starts up with conference and RFP

“Having these conversations has really drummed up interest in FaCE and other ACM faculty development activities,” Walker said. “We’re also thinking about future grant writing, so we’re getting a chance to listen to a variety of people and begin to see what themes emerge, what things people on the campuses are interested in.”
A major focus for the team has been starting up FaCE 3, the third phase of ACM’s decade-long Faculty Career Enhancement Program. Thanks to funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, FaCE 3 will support collaborative projects by ACM college faculty and staff with two grant cycles each academic year through 2020. The first Request for Proposals has been issued, with an application deadline of December 15.

The fall funding cycle each year kicks off with a consortial conference designed to bring together faculty and staff to explore potential collaborations to propose for FaCE grants. This year’s conference on Technology-Enabled Education: Enhancing Faculty & Student Engagement in the Liberal Arts College will be held in Chicago on October 17-19.

“The FaCE 3 steering committee, working with the ACM Advisory Board of Deans, will set a theme for the program each year,” said Williams. “After focusing on technology-enabled education this year, the theme in 2015-16 will be new research in cognitive science and learning. Grant proposals that respond to the theme will have preference in each cycle, but we also encourage other proposals that are similarly compelling.”

“We’re hoping that faculty will suggest ideas for themes in subsequent years to their deans,” he added. “We want to make sure the program is supporting what faculty are trying to accomplish in their teaching and research.”

Building a community among ACM technologists

Finn’s position as Liaison for Technology in Teaching and Learning was created in conjunction with FaCE 3 to support an emphasis on seeking innovative ways to use instructional technology in the context of residential, liberal arts colleges. The grant supports the Liaison position for several years, after which responsibility for funding the position will shift to the ACM consortium.

Because personal connections are central to his role in fostering peer-to-peer collaboration and learning across the ACM, Finn packed his calendar in September with trips to ACM campuses to meet with technologists before the opening FaCE 3 conference.

“I’m making an initial push to get out to all the campuses and learn about the landscape instructional technologists are working in and the challenges they face,” Finn said. “Then we’ll work to create some kind of a platform or network across the ACM that technologists can use to share information.”

Finn foresees an online community for sharing experiences with software, computer systems and other hardware, and vendors. “Everyone is interested in finding new ways to work more effectively and efficiently and, of course, to cut costs,” he said. “What I’ve seen already is that good ideas are springing up on all the ACM campuses. Let’s try to bring all that knowledge together in a way that people can access it and put it to use.”

Expanding the portfolio of grant-funded initiatives

Looking forward, Williams is taking a key role in expanding ACM’s portfolio of grant-funded initiatives by drawing on his years of experience in development and fundraising to broaden the pool of foundations and other funding sources that ACM taps in providing new opportunities for faculty.

The team has been working on proposals that build on the ACM’s experience in its recent Post-doctoral Fellowship Program and its collaboration with members of the CIC (Consortium on Institutional Collaboration), which includes the “Big Ten” universities and the University of Chicago.

Funds remaining from the EMKE (Enhancing the Midwest Knowledge Ecosystem) program with CIC are likely to be used for pilot projects in digital humanities and less commonly taught languages, two areas identified during that program’s meetings as being ripe for collaboration.

To help support the variety of ACM faculty development programs underway, and anticipating more to come, the team has been working with Webitects, the company that designed and built the ACM website, to develop a new, robust Faculty Projects Portal. The initial stage of the portal has just been launched to support the first FaCE 3 Request for Proposals and conference as well as the Call for Participants for the SAIL faculty seminar in Jordan.

When fully built out, the portal will streamline processes such as applying for FaCE grants, conferences, and other faculty development activities and will play a large role in disseminating the results of those activities, both across the ACM and to a wider higher education audience.

•    Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Program
•    FaCE 3 Request for Proposals and conference on Technology-Enabled Education
•    SAIL – Call for Participants for Sustainability on the Margins in Jordan
•    ACM staff bios: Brian Williams, Rashida Walker, and Ed Finn

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