Close to 70 faculty members and administrators gathered at the Dillard House Conference Center at the end of March for a day-and-a-half symposium addressing ways to promote and support faculty engagement and renewal.
The 2008 Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium, sponsored by the UGA Teaching Academy, was the 18th in a series of symposia that have considered topics ranging from academic integrity to the general education curriculum. Frequently, the student experience at UGA has been a focus, but this year attention was turned to the faculty.
Keynote speaker Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, noted that while students rotate through the university, faculty provide the “anchor of stability” and define a university. He and other speakers echoed the sentiment that the strength of a university depends on the strength of its faculty.
But finding ways to engage new faculty in the university community and provide mid-career and senior faculty opportunities for renewal is a challenge, most admitted, given competing priorities for time and resources.
Symposium participants convened in small groups to address specific areas for faculty engagement-in teaching, research, public service and outreach, faculty governance and student life. Each group put together a set of recommendations that will be posted on the Web site of the Teaching Academy (http://teachingacademy.uga.edu) in the “Events” section.
One recurring recommendation was to promote successful existing UGA programs such as Study in a Second Discipline, which more than one participant termed “life changing.” Other recommendations called for expansion of the Lilly Fellows Program, creation of a Research Academy and funding for professional leaves.
In an afternoon panel discussion, Nelson Hilton, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, spoke of the success of the Faculty Learning Communities started last year with more than 70 faculty participants, and said the number of communities will be expanded from seven to nine in the coming year. He also called attention to “Project Promote,” a new portal Web site designed to offer a mentoring community for new faculty (http://projects.coe.uga.edu/promote/files/).
Regina Smith, another panelist, discussed financial support for faculty research provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the UGA Research Foundation. The third panelist, Tricia Kalivoda, covered grants and other types of funding provided by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach.
The symposium also included a luncheon speech by emeritus professor Tom Dyer, pre-dinner remarks by UGA President Michael F. Adams and an evening “fireside chat” with Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr.