Upon returning from my Fulbright lectureship as a tenured professor for the 2011-2012 year I completed my third year as a member of the Arts Events Committee. During 2012-2013 I was on sabbatical. Back on campus in fall of 2013 I ran for a seat on the Academic Technology Advising Committee, to begin that semester. Aware of the importance of technology to editing and publishing projects on campus (the literary journals; the publishing and editing program; and our small press publishing course) and in my own scholarship (the Constant Critic and SplitLevel Texts) this seemed to be a committee for which I had something to offer. In addition, early that fall I ran for a seat on the Provost's Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Scholarship, convened for the 2013-2014 year. The committee was formed by the Provost to conduct a comprehensive review of scholarship expectations, mentoring, resources, and recognition and was composed of the committee chair and Speaker of the Faculty, Michele DeMary, and five elected faculty representatives. The importance I place on scholarship in my life, as well as the knowledge that our teaching is only as strong as our commitment to our scholarship made me keen to be part of this committee. Service on this committee was a turning point for my contribution to university service and has led me to play a leadership role in strengthening the culture of scholarship at Susquehanna.
Throughout the course of the fall semester the Ad Hoc Committee reviewed policies, held open sessions to discuss the review-categories, and collected information from university committees associated with scholarship. During spring semester we analyzed data and gathered a report to present our findings and recommendations to the faculty. We recommended greater clarity of expectations for faculty research; recognition that faculty scholarship is a central component of the Susquehanna University experience; greater support for faculty research in time and money; and a center for faculty research and creative activity. The report can be read here. Some practical results of these findings resulted in a new position for grant support; a revised mission for the Faculty Scholarship Committee to include programming; a presence for faculty scholarship on MySU; and a greater transparency about scholarship expectations.
My engagement with the Ad Hoc Committee led me to run for election to the Faculty Scholarship Committee, which I joined fall semester, 2014. After a year of service on the committee I put myself forward to chair the committee and have served as chair since fall of 2015, gaining re-election to the committee when my initial commitment was fulfilled last year. As chair of the Faculty Scholarship Committee I continue to hold the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee in mind and see the FSC as a center for both developing stewardship of the structures around scholarship that we have inherited, and to also strategically cultivate future structures that can further enrich the culture of faculty scholarship at Susquehanna.
Stewardship of Inherited Structures
Through the FSC faculty members from Arts and Sciences apply for support for their scholarship in the form of Mini-Grants as well as Faculty and University Research Grants. We receive Mini-Grant applications on a rolling basis and review the larger grants at the beginning of spring semester each year. I lead our review of Mini-Grants, which takes place via email, and I also lead our review of the larger grants, which takes place over the course of a meeting. In addition to leading review, I conduct correspondence with applicants, coordinate letters of reference, and convey any queries the committee has about the application. During my first year as chair, 2015-2016, we funded sixteen Mini-Grants, one Faculty Research Grant, and three University Research Grants. During my second year as chair, 2016-2017, we funded fifteen Mini-Grants, four Faculty Research Grants, and three University Research Grants. Along with conducting reviews of the grants, with the enormous support of Charity Ney the committee has worked to make its processes more transparent, housing all successful grant applications on the WebSU Faculty Scholarship site. The availability of grant proposals not only makes our process transparent, but it also allows the proposals to be resources for faculty members who apply for grants in the future. In addition to the transparency of the WebSU site I make written and verbal announcements to the faculty about our grant opportunities and make myself available to answer specific questions via email and in person. These communications not only make the information more readily available to faculty, but they also reinforce the importance and presence of scholarship in the larger arena of faculty meetings and announcements with the goal of showing that scholarship has a place in nearly everything that we do.
Strategic Cultivation of Future Structures
After the Ad Hoc Committee's review of faculty scholarship practices the faculty voted to amend the Faculty Scholarship Committee's charge to include "the support of faculty scholarship through workshops, colloquia, mentoring, and other occasions for academic interchange." My largest contribution to enriching the culture of scholarship at Susquehanna has been an effort to meet this charge, which has come in the form of a collaboration with Rob Sieczkiewicz and the library. Since the 2015-2016 academic year, my first year as chair, Rob and I have held events in the library, room 104, twice a semester for faculty to present their scholarship. Three faculty present at each event; Rob and I curate the series to include faculty from a mix of disciplines and at various stages in their careers. We advertise the events and I introduce each faculty member with a biography that recognizes their accomplishments. Presentations are short, no more than fifteen minutes each, yet still allow the university community to get a swift sense of the exciting work that faculty are currently engaged in doing. This year Rob and I will continue the series and have added an event, scheduled for November 14th, focused on university resources for faculty research, giving faculty the opportunity to find out about external grant resources, the FSC grant process, the digital commons publishing opportunities, and other valuable resources. This will extend the event series further towards mentoring as we maintain our goal of recognizing the importance of scholarship to the Susquehanna community. These events are well-attended: we draw between twenty to forty audience members. Faculty and staff feedback upon participating and attending these events has been overwhelmingly positive.
Work on the Ad Hoc Committee gave me an initial taste of the variety and vitality of our colleagues' scholarship—and our collective hunger for scholarship to be further recognized as central to the university. It is gratifying to work at an institution where I've had the opportunity to play a central role in shifting the attention of our community towards recognizing and supporting the inspiring work that our colleagues continue to perform.
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