Welcome to the USM Faculty Commons

In the Fall of 2012, Provost Michael Stevenson, convened a small group to examine the possibility of establishing a Faculty Commons, an objective identified in many of the planning documents created at USM. Thanks to the efforts of several faculty and staff, we were able to launch a few Faculty Commons events in the Spring and Summer of 2013. The events were well attended--evidence that we are eager to have these opportunities to learn, share and connect.

Faculty Commons Report on Events and Activities Spring 2013

News & Events

Libra Scholar Presentation with Matthew Jockers

Libra Scholar Presentation with Matthew Jockers

Event Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 17, 2014, 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Talbot Hall, USM Portland Campus









“50,000 Books but only Six Stories: A Macroanalysis of Plot"

Matthew Jockers, USM Libra Scholar

Public Lecture - April 17th, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Talbot Auditorium, USM Portland Campus

This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of English, History, Political Science, Media and Communication Studies, Women & Gender Studies, Faculty Commons, and Professional & Continuing Education.


Digital technologies are impacting almost all spheres of education and social life, from the kindergarten teaching of reading to graduate programs in cyber security, from drones to deliver pizza to drones that have become a global symbol of America’s war on terrorism. We now have access not to a text or dozens of texts, but to hundreds and thousands and millions of texts, which can be tagged, encoded, and made available for computational analysis and scholarly research. This raises important questions: What kinds of evidence do computational analyses of the humanities yield? What is the nature of this evidence, and what kinds of insights can such evidence offer in shaping our understanding of literature, history, philology, macroeconomics, statistics, public policy, software languages, and the social and behavioral sciences?

In his public lecture, Professor Matthew Jockers will discuss why quantitative methods are appropriate for humanistic inquiry. His methodology “macroanalysis” emphasizes that “massive digital corpora offer us unprecedented access to the literary record and invite, even demand, a new type of evidence gathering and meaning making.” Macroanalysis is not about replacing microanalysis or close reading of texts or data sets, but it is about understanding that reading and interpretation today can also mean creating digital archives using text encoding processes, mining those databases for patterns and trends with computational logic, and visualizing vast data sets storing millions of bytes of information and a variety of media texts. Professor Jockers will discuss how he employed tools and techniques from natural language processing, sentiment analysis, signal processing, and machine learning in order to extract and compare the plot structures in 50,000 narratives spanning the two hundred year period from 1800-2011.

Grounded in the exciting new field of digital studies, Professor Jockers’ work offers research approaches that are applicable to nearly all disciplines. In his lecture, he will also comment on the broad significance of digital technologies in higher education.



Matthew Jockers

Professor Matthew Jockers is Assistant Professor of English, Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and Director of the Nebraska Literary Lab at the University of Nebraska. He oversees UNL’s post baccalaureate Certificate in Digital Humanities, and he serves as the faculty advisor for the minor in Digital Humanities. Prior to Nebraska, Jockers was a Lecturer and Academic Technology Specialist in the Department of English at Stanford where he co-founded the Stanford Literary Lab with Franco Moretti, a leading scholar in English Studies and the Digital Humanities.

Jockers’s research is focused on computational approaches to the study of literature, especially large collections of literature. He has written articles on computational text analysis, authorship attribution, Irish and Irish-American literature, and he has co-authored several successful amicus briefs defending the fair and transformative use of digital text. Jockers's work has been profiled in the academic and main stream press including features in the New York TimesNature, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Nautilus, Wired, New Scientist, Smithsonian, NBC News and many others.

Learn more about Matthew Jockers.


Keep the Conversation Going

Reach out to USM Faculty Member John Muthyala or to Matthew Jockers directly.

April 17, 2014
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Talbot Hall, USM Portland Campus

Celebration of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

Celebration of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

Event Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 24, 2014, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Glickman Family Library, USM Portland Campus

Join us in Celebration!

USM’s Celebration of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (RSCA)

In recognition of the creative energy that fuels our scholarship, we will come together as a community for the annual Celebration of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. 

This year's RSCA Celebration includes 2013-2014 Provost Research Fellowship presentation by Daniel Sonenberg, and announcements for this coming 2014-2015 Provost Research Fellow  award.


RSCA Celebration

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 
4pm to 6pm
Glickman Family Library, USM Portland Campus

Food and Refreshments included


Please RSVP – we need an accurate headcount for beverage tickets and food.



  • Networking
  • 2013-2014 Provost Research Fellow Presentation
  • Awards & Recognition


2013-2014 Provost Research Fellowship Presentation

So You Want To Write an Opera:Reflections on the decade-long making of the Summer King
Presenting exactly two weeks before the premiere of his opera at Merrill Auditorium, Daniel Sonenberg, the 2013-2014 Provost Research Fellow, will discuss the process of creating the opera from the original idea through completion and performance. He will play some audio clips as well. View Spring 2013 Research Fellow announcement.

The Summer King, Portland Ovations’ and the USM School of Music’s final event of the 2013-2014 season, takes place on Thursday, May 8th at 7:30pm. Learn more.


Daniel Sonenberg

2013-2014 Provost Research Fellow

Daniel Sonenberg is a composer and performer based in Portland, Maine, and Associate Professor and Resident Composer at USM.  He was recently awarded a National Endowment of the Arts grant to support the premiere of his opera, The Summer King, based on the life of the Negro League baseball legend Josh Gibson, by Portland Ovations at Merrill Auditorium in May, 2014. Excerpts of the opera have previously been featured by American Opera Projects, Fort Worth Opera, the Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Southern Maine, and have garnered press attention from Forth Worth to Kansas City to New York, including an article in the Wall Street Journal. Earlier this year the work was featured in a daylong series of events at Opera America’s New Works Forum in New York City. Recent performances of Mr. Sonenberg’s music include a world premiere by the Da Capo Chamber Players, the premiere of Grab That! for oboe, violin, cello and piano at Bates College, performances of his Seven Jarring Dances for Clarinet(s) and Steel-String Guitar in Maine, New York City, and at the National Music Festival in Maryland, and new works for percussion and piano, amplified quartet of bass clarinet, cello, contrabass, and percussion, and a song cycle for soprano and piano, commissioned by the New York-based Two Sides Sounding. Mr. Sonenberg is a co-founding member of the composers collective South Oxford Six, who have presented concerts and given master classes in New York, Serbia, and Maine and will celebrate their tenth anniversary with a concert in New York City in Fall 2014. For the 2013-14 academic year, Mr. Sonenberg was the first professor in USM’s history to be appointed both Provost’s Research Fellow and Trustee Professor.


Questions or Comments about this event?

Feel free to reach out to Judy Spross.

April 24, 2014
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Glickman Family Library, USM Portland Campus

Thinking Matters

Thinking Matters

Event Date and Time: 
Friday, April 25, 2014, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Spring 2014 Thinking Matters.

Learn more: https://usm.maine.edu/research/thinkingmatters\

  • Poster session will be held in the Sullivan Gymnasium from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Oral sessions will be held in Payson Smith from 12:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

April 25, 2014
8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Grant Writing - How to Succeed in Grant Writing

Grant Writing - How to Succeed in Grant Writing

Event Date and Time: 
Friday, January 24, 2014, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Friday, March 7, 2014, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Friday, April 4, 2014, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Friday, May 2, 2014, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Faculty Commons, 3rd Floor, Glickman Family Library, USM Portland Campus

Grant Writing - How to Succeed in Grant Writing

USM’s Research Administration and Development is offering a faculty professional development workshop in grant writing for tenure-track and tenured faculty at USM.  The workshop is comprised of four, 3-hour sessions.  Dr. Terry Shehata, Grants Development Specialist and Coordinator for Institutional and Research Grants Development, will conduct the workshop.


Grant writing is both a systematic and a chaotic process. You will need to be as organized as possible without becoming so obsessive that you lose the opportunity to incorporate new ideas and new suggestions as they emerge throughout the process. The learning outcomes of the workshop are to:

  • Understand the essential components of a grant proposal package.
  • Be able to customize a proposal to match a grant maker's interest.
  • Know how to initially approach a funder.
  • Know the differences between government and foundation proposals.
  • Know how to report on a grant's progress and impact.
  • Know how to develop working relationships with grant makers.
  • Know what to do if your proposal is denied (don't give up!).
  • Understand the behind-the-scenes decisions that determine proposal acceptance and denial.

Time and Location: This four session workshop will be scheduled on four Friday mornings during the spring 2014 semester from 9am to Noon in the Faculty Commons 3rd floor space of the Glickman Family Library on the USM Portland Campus.



Participants must commit to attending all four sessions.


Program Details:

Day One, Friday, January 24 | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Understand the critical difference between organizational needs and the needs of the community.
  • Develop your credibility as an applicant.
  • Research, measure, and objectively articulate the community needs to be addressed with the proposed grant.
  • Measuring impacts; define success now.
  • Present and justify your method for addressing the need; why you've chosen this method over other possible methods; overcoming the inherently subjective nature of methods.

Day Two, Friday, March 7 | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Locate and track relevant grant opportunities from Federal, State and local government sources, private foundations and corporate giving programs.
  • Develop your plan for grant evaluation, both subjective and objective; integrating your plan with the grant maker's required evaluation and reporting system.
  • Develop a budget and analyzing cash flow; indirect and admin cost caps; determine if you can afford to get this grant before submitting an application; collaborating with your fiscal affairs, grants managers, and leadership.
  • Summarize your request for that impossibly small summary opportunity on the standard federal cover page or, the one/two page foundation request.
  • Allocate and forecast proposal teamwork load before the RFP is released.
  • Dissect the RFP; researching enabling legislation; understanding the "spirit and intent" of the grant program; technical assistance contacts and the need for open and honest communication.

Day Three, Friday, April 4 | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Continue unfinished business from Day Two.
  • Understand the requirements of Human Research Protection, Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use, Institutional Biosafety, USM Animal Facilities, Responsible Conduct of Research, Export Control Regulations, and Financial Conflicts of Interest.
  • Review sample funding opportunities based on the keywords provided from the previous session.  These opportunities will be reviewed carefully and key elements will be highlighted.
  • Instructions for a five-page mini-proposal based on the requirements of the funding agency, which includes a narrative, a budget, a budget justification and other ancillary materials, called for by the funder.

Day Four, Friday, May 2 | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

  • Critique each mini-proposal in terms of consistency with the required format, addressing key elements and topics of the funding agency, tell telling a clear and compelling story, addressing review criteria, and providing a budget that is commensurate with the proposed project.
  • Participants in the workshop who are not involved in the mini-proposal under review will conduct the critique.
  • Recommendations for improving the mini-proposal will be provided to the authors.

Contact Information:

If you have any questions regarding grant writing or this four session workshop, please contact Dr. Terry Shehata by phone at 780-8239 or by email at tshehata@usm.maine.edu

May 2, 2014
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Faculty Commons, 3rd Floor, Glickman Family Library, USM Portland Campus

Cooperative Learning in a Metropolitan University

Cooperative Learning in a Metropolitan University

Event Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Faculty Commons Space, Glickman Library, USM Portland Campus

Cooperative Learning in a Metropolitan University: Why and How

Dewey teaches us that all learning (or the best learning) is social.  How do we structure learning experiences that build on that axiom?  Join faculty member Christy Hammer as she leads this hands-on workshop merging theory with practice and covering the research that supports Cooperative Learning as an easy-to-implement and effective set of instructional strategies with actual modeling of some of the “best of” cooperative learning techniques. Come prepared to “think hard; play hard” and open to “flexible groups” with your workshop peers, from Think-Pair-Shares to Jigsaw small groups! 

Christy Hammer is long trained in both the Johnson and Slavin techniques in cooperative learning and has offered many workshops to K-16 instructors and to pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers.

Wednesday May 7, 2014

  • 11am to 11:30 Open discussion during lunch - feel free to bring your lunch and join the conversation
  • 11:30 to 1pm - Review and modeling of cooperative learning strategies

Glickman Library, USM Portland Campus

This event will not be recorded.



Christy HammerChristy Hammer
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Associate Professor, Graduate Faculty of Education
University of Southern Maine at Lewiston-Auburn
At USM LAC I teach Sociology, Ethics, Education, and Leadership courses, and appreciate the ability to work out my own eclectic, inter-disciplinary interests!  I earned my Ph.D. in Sociology of Education at the University of New Hampshire, and also specialized in the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Race and Ethnic Relations.  I am mainly interested in the politics, economics, and socio-cultural aspects of K-16 education.

I worked in Civil Rights in the field of K-12 education for many years, and have won two awards for my Anti-Racism work in schools.  My "fifteen minutes of fame" was when I was featured on the national McNeil-Lehrer News Hour as a "gender equity expert" on the topic of single-sex schooling.  We live in Scarborough and have a beautiful daughter and an equally beautiful yellow lab!  I try to return "home" to Wyoming 3-4 times a year. Learn more about Christy Hammer.


Keep the Conversation Going

Reach out to Christy Hammer.

May 7, 2014
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Faculty Commons Space, Glickman Library, USM Portland Campus