As Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, my primary tasks include the leadership of 25 academic disciplines, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming, faculty development activities through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and Student Academic Achievement (SAA) assessment activities. In 2007-2009, I also chaired the Faculty Awards for Excellence Committee, and currently I am co-chairing an Institutional Effectiveness Committee's Action Team on college-wide civic engagement.

Below are examples of several recent projects that reflect my commitment to innovation and facilitation of faculty and student success.

Department Program Reviews - The eFolio Project

As a dean, I meet with individual departments to lead their program reviews on a three-year cycle. Each department review follows the college's Program Review Process, examining efficiency data, labor market trends, and other factors that impact departmental planning.

In 2008-2009, several departments within the division developed an eFolio to present their department program review materials. These were developed under a MnSCU eFolio grant. As the dean, I help get the reviews started, providing feedback on works-in-progress. I also work closely with the Assessment Coordinator to guide on the use of the eFolio format for program reviews. The eFolio template has been developed to parallel the college's approved Program Review Manual. Below are three examples.

 

Academic Assessment

I meet regularly with the college's Assessment Coordinator, Kent Richards, to discuss annual learning assessment projects. The college's academic assessment activities are highlighted in the Lake Superior College Academic Assessment eFolio, which was created by Kent Richards. Over the recent years, faculty buy-in for college-wide assessment activities has increased, largely due to the efforts of our faculty coordinator and, in part, due to the efforts of academic deans. In 2009-10, the college administered both nationally-normed tests, such as the Science CAAP test, and assessments that were developed in-house by a team of faculty and staff, including an assessment of students' learning of the scientific method. My role in these efforts is to provide feedback, assist with the facilitation of testing, and continously encourage faculty participation in these activities. Many faculty, in recent years, have opted to include assessment activities as part of their professional development plans as well as their program review action plans. My task is to communicate these plans to the Assessment Coordinator, who will then advise and assist faculty to achieve their particular assessment goals.

STEM Projects - Facilitating Student and Faculty Success

Mentor-Net: As the college's MentorNet administrator, I encourage under-served students who are interested in a career in a STEM field to sign up with a mentor who is working in the field. I am in frequent email communication with prospective participants and have met with a few students face-to-face to discuss the benefits of being mentored by a career professional. In 2008-09, Lake Superior College had 16 students participants, more than any other MnSCU two-year college. In Fall 2008, I had an opportunity to discuss my recruiting methods at the MnSCU CAOs/CSAOs/Deans Meeting. In 2009-10, the program at LSC was expanded to faculty and staff, offering them an opportunity to serve as mentors.

Project Kaleidoscope: In 2008-2009, I invited faculty from different STEM departments to attend four MnSCU-Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) Partnership workshops to learn about the use of pedagogies of engagement in STEM education. To emphasize the value and benefit of these events, I attended each as an active participant. One example of LSC's contribution to the project is Biology faculty member Theresa Hornstein's Transfusion Case Study, which is posted on the MnSCU-PKAL partnership website.

In 2009, I also invited a non-STEM faculty member to a Project Kaleidoscope workshop, thinking that the pedagogies on engagement could also be applied to other disciplines. Gretchen Flaherty, an English faculty member, was inspired by this experience to submit her lesson plan to the MnSCU-Project Kaleidoscope Faculty Showcase, which took place on February 26-27, 2010. The same showcase also featured another LSC faculty member, Matt Whitehill from the Geology department. We were the only MnSCU institution with more than one showcase participant.

CTL - Facilitating Faculty Success

One of my tasks as a dean is to oversee the college's Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) activities. I meet regularly with Kelli Hallsten, a faculty CTL Coordinator, to plan and organize professional development activities on our campus. Under Kelli's enthusiastic and energetic leadership, we have scheduled very popular faculty-led duty days, which in the past used to be treated as quiet office days. We have also collaborated with the library and the InterCultural Center to host campus-wide book clubs on the topic of diversity and organized a number of individual sessions and speaking series, including the World Traveler Series in 2009-10, which has inspired us to host the series at a local residence for the elderly.

CTL Sustainability Workshop: In Spring 2009, I scheduled a meeting with several faculty to brainstorm ideas for a grant proposal to host a CTL discipline workshop, suggesting the topic of sustainability. At that time, we were not ready to draft a proposal. However, several faculty from that first meeting later decided to pursue the idea, resulting in a very popular multi-disciplinary workshop titled " Sharing Approaches to Sustainability Across the Curriculum," hosted by LSC on March 25-26, 2010. The primary coordinator for the event was Glenn Merrick from the Biology department, who collaborated with colleagues at LSC and at other MnSCU institutions. This event attracted MnSCU participants from seventeen different disciplines, including Sociology, Biology, and Interior Design. The success of this multi-disciplinary workshop will be used as a model for future CTL-funded faculty development workshops.

Study Abroad

Each year, the Liberal Arts & Sciences division has offered  one semester-long study abroad program, either in Mexico or Italy. The Spanish department, in collaboration with other departments, has also led many multi-disciplinary spring break learning communities to Mexico, which include a service learning project in a local orphanage. To help facilitate and improve the college's study abroad programs, I attend several International Education Committee meetings and provide frequent feedback on program development and revisions of travel policies and guidelines. Most recently, a faculty member leading a short-term study abroad trip to Mexico consulted with me about a research project that he plans to undertake with his students, similar to a project that I had assigned to students who partcipated in my Italy Study Abroad program in 2004. This is another example of how my teaching experiences continue to inform my work as a dean.

Showcase of Recent Liberal Arts & Sciences Projects - Innovative Uses of Technology