Center launches to aid faculty improvement

Plans are currently in place for the official launch of The Center for Faculty Excellence, or The Faculty Center, at Baldwin Wallace University at the conference for faculty and staff at the start of Fall 2018.

The center will be led by Lisa Henderson, assistant provost.  Its first faculty fellow will be Amy Jo Sutterluety, associate dean and professor of the School of Health, Physical Education, and Sport Sciences.  Funds to support the launch were provided by donor Steve Boesel.

“It is a priority of our institution that we have support and development for our faculty,” Henderson said.  “We always have.  It’s always been important to us.”

The idea for BW’s Faculty Center stemmed from that commitment, said Henderson, and from the goals of BW’s current strategic plan, Vision 2020.  It also stemmed from internal research and focus groups among the faculty here at BW, she said, plus an intensive process of research, reading, observing, and networking that allowed BW to see and discuss how other institutions’ faculty centers worked.

“[The center] will serve broader goals than typical centers for teaching excellence,” wrote Henderson in an email, “as it will provide holistic support to faculty members throughout their careers across the spectrum of their professional responsibilities and activities including teaching, advising/mentoring, scholarship, and leadership.”

The center will not initially be housed in a physical space, though plans to establish spaces across campus for faculty communication and collaboration are in progress, said Henderson.

The center will provide three major areas of services to BW’s faculty, Henderson said.  Those areas will be formal development activities and events, informal and self-directed development efforts by faculty, and routine events such as peer mentoring programs and support for pre-tenured faculty members.

The written values of the center are to “support faculty throughout every stage of their career, promote collaboration and mentoring within and across disciplines, support the integration of scholarly work and teaching, provide both physical and digital spaces with which to explore and experiment, and provide active and passive resources for faculty in a comprehensive manner.”

The official launch of the center this fall will focus on making new faculty resources available, facilitating discussions about teaching and learning, starting up a new peer mentoring program, and highlighting new and existing partnerships in support of faculty amongst campus initiatives, said Henderson.

“There’s already so many initiatives that support the faculty that the development of this center is all about partnerships,” Henderson said, “and so that’s our hope: that we will strengthen the partnerships amongst initiatives and in supporting one another.  It’s my hope that if there’s an initiative that’s going on in, for example, Ed Tech, that I can help, through our center, to promote it, to engage other people in it.  Sometimes we can put our resources together to make an initiative even stronger.”

Another key element of the center is its emphasis on faculty leadership and involvement, said Henderson.

“One of the things we did learn… is that the leadership of it matters,” said Henderson. “In particular, the faculty role in leadership matters.”

Currently, Sutterluety is the one faculty associate working with the center, said Henderson. Sutterluety was chosen to help develop a new, centralized peer mentoring program for faculty based on her effectiveness in implementing faculty mentoring in her own school.

In the future, said Henderson, she hopes to grow the number of associates to three, with one overseeing each of the center’s main areas of focus.

Ultimately, The Faculty Center has great potential to benefit both faculty and students, said Sutterluety.

“My hope,” said Sutterluety, “is that the launch of The Faculty Center will be able to contribute to the strategic plan of the University and the college mission of promoting teaching and learning within the faculty so that can then be delivered to the students in new and innovative ways, as well as enhancing the BW community.”