New Faculty Center to provide resources, spaces for professors

By Shira Kipnees, Staff Writer

The College is opening a new faculty center, scheduled to open in early October, as a resource for professors. For the next several years the Center will be located in a room on the second floor of Shadek-Fackenthal
Library.

According to Mary Ann Levine, interim director of the Faculty Center, the Center will consist of a director’s office, a full-time coordinator’s office, areas for informal gatherings, a conference table for workshops and discussions, a library of teaching and research resources, and a small kitchenette. The Center will be open to all faculty, including adjuncts, one-year and multi-year visitors, tenure-track
faculty, and emeriti.

“Every member of our exceptional faculty is invited to attend our workshops, activities, and events,” Levine said. “The Faculty Center is specifically dedicated to faculty development. The Faculty Center will offer pedagogical and research support, as well as build community through informal interaction. It will support, sustain, and celebrate faculty in their roles as teachers, scholars, and College
citizens.”

Other functions of the Faculty Center include administration of the Academic Innovation and Enrichment Fund, which is available upon application and — Levine hopes — will enrich the learning environment of F&M, as well as the New Faculty Orientation, a program that is built to help new professors adjust to their first year at the College.

The Center is also introducing a number of new

programs including Post-Sabbatical Research Talks and Writing Circles, and is working closely with other offices on campus, such as the Office of College Grants. Levine, in her capacity as interim director, will help to develop other programs and assist in the search for a permanent director of the Center.

While only opening this year, the idea of a Faculty Center at F&M has been discussed since 1999 out of the desire to build a space for faculty development. According to Levine, the reason the Center is opening now — 14 years after the initial idea of a faculty center on campus — is because of an action plan put together by a faculty-led committee over last year.

“The faculty on the steering committee last year invited directors of other centers to our campus to hold open forums and meetings, visited several peer-institutions with existing centers, undertook an official survey of faculty opinion, and prepared a detailed report of its findings,” Levine said. “On the basis of their report, a leadership team for this academic year was assembled and Facilities & Operations (F&O) dedicated part of their summer to creating the physical space.”

F&O workers were not the only ones working over the summer: the Center’s Advisory Board worked throughout the summer months as well to organize orientation sessions, workshops, research talks, and social events that have been held across campus. Aside from Levine, the Advisory Board consists of Carol de Wet, Dr. E. Paul & Frances H. Reiff professor of geosciences;  Jaime Blair, assistant professor of biology; Giovanna Faleschini Lerner, associate professor of Italian; Katherine McClelland, professor of sociology; and
Benjamin McRee, professor of history.

Now that the Center is opening, people are commenting on its importance.

“The Faculty Center is a welcoming place where faculty members in discussions with their colleagues can ponder and enrich their teaching and research,” said Joseph Karlesky, interim provost and dean of the faculty. “Students are the ultimate beneficiaries of this
important work.”

Levine expressed her aspirations for the Faculty Center.

“The Faculty Center is already a vital resource for faculty and will contribute to the vibrancy of the College as a whole,” Levine said. “It is a hub for a wide array of activities that will nourish and sustain the intellectual lives of faculty and create cross-divisional synergies. It is an important and long
sought-after addition to
campus.”

Junior Shira Kipnees is a staff writer. Her email is skipnees@fandm.edu.

print