Center for Collaboration and Development

Notes from the Faculty Coordinator

 Message from Outgoing Coordinatorof the USM Faculty Commons

Fall 2015                           Judy Spross             

Dear Colleagues,

As most of you know, I have retired from USM. It has been a satisfying challenge, over the last two and a half years, to collaborate with others in developing and leading the USM Faculty Commons, an initiative undertaken in response to numerous documents and strategic plans in which faculty identified the need for development, space and programming. As you know,  Professor Luci Benedict will be assuming responsibility for continuing as Director of the Faculty Commons for the coming year. Luci, Hilarie Fotter (graduate student in School Psychology who is continuing as the GA for the Faculty Commons), and I  have been working together to facilitate a smooth transition. I am also pleased that Professor Cathie Fallona, in her role as the Title III Fellow for Faculty Development, has assumed some of the responsibilities I had as a co-investigator on the Title III grant (we were all at a transition meeting for the grant earlier this week). USM begins this academic year with a very capable team to build on the successes of the Faculty Commons and continue implementation of the faculty development elements of the Title III grant.

I appreciated Glenn Cummings' remarks at the Opening Breakfast--that our institutional pain and grief can serve as a portal to our pursuit of excellence and the importance of collaboration in achieving the goals he has set for our university. I will close this e-mail by referring readers to some key documents that may serve us as Luci, Cathie and Hilarie work with faculty, staff and administrators to institutionalize a robust and responsive faculty development program.

Here is a brief summary of the accomplishments over the last two and a half years .

January 2013 through August 2013

This period was primarily focused on organization, establishing partnerships, soliciting input, planning for AY 2013-2014, planning for a website, and offering a couple of programs before  the end of the Spring term 2013 and, in collaboration with CTEL, over the summer. As a result, we began AY 2013-14 with a welcome and orientation for new faculty, a schedule of events for the fall 2013 (and tentative plan for Spring 2014).

AY 2013-2014

Key accomplishments:

  • establishing processes for program planning, promotion, implementation, and evaluation of programs
  • establishing a website and e-mail address for the Faculty Commons
  • establishing routine communications regarding FC events
  • planning, developing, and outfitting a space in Glickman Library for the Faculty Commons (our goal ultimately has been to have space at all three campuses) for informal gatherings and for programming--including a process for key access by faculty
  • acquiring equipment to facilitate recording of events
  • recruitment of a GA for the FC and collaborating with IT to recruit two work study students whose primary focus would be support and recording of FC events
  • delivery of 60 programs and events (many in collaboration with other units/departments such as Libra scholar events, CTEL faculty development, World Philosophy Day, student advising etc.) and including a faculty development day with José Bowen, author of Teaching Naked and a celebration of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity with an inspiring keynote delivered by our  own Professor Jerry Conway

AY 2014-2015

Just as other departments were affected by budget and staffing constraints and the general milieu, the Faculty Commons was affected.  As a co-investigator on the Title III grant, our focus for this year was primarily on implementing Title III faculty development initiatives, maintaining the FC website (including archiving past material), collaborating to promote the activities of other units, and planning for transition of FC activities.

  • initiation of some of the faculty development activities supported by Title III grant including
    • Faculty Interest Group submission and evaluation process
    • faculty development symposium with Saundra McGuire
    • scheduling and promoting FIG offerings
    • offering StrengthsFinder training to faculty and staff
    • grant evaluation activities
    • collaboration with MU working group and Office of Professional and Continuing Education on the development and promotion of Lightning Talks and other faculty development
    • maintaining website and (more limited) FC communications to USM community
    • using Google Analytics to evaluate use of the FC website


What we have been able to do these last couple of years with very modest resources could only have been accomplished with deep and thoughtful collaboration with and essential support from current and former colleagues. The risk of naming them may mean that I may forget someone--know that it is not an intentional omission!

Former provosts Stevenson and McDonnell made it possible to inaugurate and provide a foundation for  the important work of Faculty Development. Early on Professors David Wagner, Dan Stasko, Stephen Pelsue, Julien Murphy, and Jerry LaSala provided important formative ideas. Professor Bruce Thompson was deeply engaged in helping us design, develop and implement the physical space in the library. Similarly, both David Nutty and Monique Larocque were champions of the undertaking and key partners, providing both ideas and resources to build the foundation.  Former staff member in PCE, Amertah Perman, provided expertise in program planning and helped us develop processes and documentation that continue to serve us well. After Monique left, David Nutty and Susan Nevins continued PCE's commitment to the FC. I am grateful to all of the library staff, PCE, CTEL and Facilities staff--the big and little things they did to ensure the success of the FC are too numerous to mention. Adam Thibodeau and Carol Potter in Facilities were instrumental in helping us with redesign of the space on the 3rd floor of the library. Angela Cook, IT,  and particularly, during the first year, helped us think about what we needed from an IT perspective and integrated our needs into her planning. She and Liz Morin (PCE) have helped us make the FC space more "self-directed" from an IT perspective.

The Title III management team, under the leadership of Dahlia Lynn, has been instrumental  in ongoing development of the Faculty Commons. Susan McWilliams, as the co-investigator for the High Impact Practices part of the Title III grant, and I collaborated on many activities. When I was on FMLA, Susan and Hilarie helped me a great deal in meeting my grant responsibilities. In addition, she provided some support from the Davis grant both for the symposium with José Bowen and for  K-cups in the FC space to help us create a welcoming, hospitable place!

Many colleagues have provided invaluable support over my time as coordinator of the FC. If you are one who presented or attended  one or more of our programs, know that your participation meant a great deal and has been an important source of support for the Faculty Commons. My colleagues in CSTH and the School of Nursing, especially Andy Anderson, Jay Graves, Krista Meinersmann, Linda Samia, Karen Zuckerman, & Jeanne Gottlieb have been very helpful.

Thank you, Luci and Cathie, for saying yes!

Finally, Hilarie Fotter is an amazing GA--her growth has paralleled that of the Faculty Commons. She is dedicated, competent, organized and resourceful. She has been integral to the development of the Faculty Commons and implementation of various aspects of the faculty development elements of the Title III grant.

Helpful Documents

On the Faculty Commons website, there is a page with some documents the USM community may find helpful as you engage with each other on the work of professional development:

Among the documents are:

Recommendations from the Faculty Senate on Interdisciplinary studies 2011

The Gloria S. Duclos Convocation Collaborative Institute 2011

Jerry Conway's talk Why I didn't decline the invitation? 2013

(We will also be adding the complete notes and the summary of the meeting on Faculty Development held in Spring 2015)

In Closing

Thank you to those named and unnamed for a great opportunity. As we turn the page to a new chapter and create an ever brighter future for USM, I paraphrase George Eliot's eloquent description of friendship as a way to transcend the past and cross through that portal of which Glenn spoke:

As our community considers the past, "the chaff and grain together," let our "gentle hands take and sift it [to] keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

With a grateful heart and best wishes,

Judy Spross

Reverend Judith A. Spross, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor Emerita, Nursing and Former Coordinator of the USM Faculty Commons



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