Faculty Collaboratives project brings together faculty at Indiana colleges and universities

  • Feb. 10, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A conference this month in Indianapolis will mark the official launch of the Indiana hub for the Faculty Collaboratives project, a multi-campus initiative aimed at cultivating faculty leadership and innovation focused on improving undergraduate education.

The conference, "Supporting Faculty Innovation in the 21st Century," will take place Feb. 26 at Ivy Tech Community College, 2820 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis. Keynote speakers will be Association of American Colleges and Universities vice presidents Susan Albertine and Debra Humphreys.

The Indiana project seeks to create a network of diverse faculty, from public and private universities and colleges, who are interested in proficiency-based undergraduate initiatives. Indiana University will provide the hub, including a website where involved faculty can communicate and share resources.

"The conference will be the first of many opportunities for faculty to engage with one another in conversations surrounding best practices in teaching and pedagogy," said T.J. Rivard, director of the Indiana Collaboratives hub and IU assistant vice president for university academic and regional affairs.

Eventually the Indiana hub will be connected to a network of states involved in the initiative, providing faculty from Indiana with opportunities to engage with faculty from across the country.

The Faculty Collaboratives project is part of Liberal Education and America’s Promise, an initiative of the Association of American Colleges and Universities that champions the importance of a 21st-century liberal education for the nation’s economic and democratic vitality.

The project is funded by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation. Indiana is one of five states -- along with California, Utah, Texas and Wisconsin -- involved in the first phase of the project. Each state is led by a team that includes a state liaison, a hub director, a set of faculty fellows and local advisory boards.

A key aspect of the Indiana project is that it will bring together faculty from different campuses and different institutions to discuss best practices for teaching and learning and ways to align curriculum so students will find consistency in class material and academic expectations.

Marcus Kolb, assistant vice president for assessment and academic policy at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, co-chairs the Indiana steering committee with Rivard. Kolb said it's important to get faculty on the same page because one in five Ivy Tech students will transfer in a typical year; often they move to four-year universities before or after completing a two-year Ivy Tech degree.

"Ivy Tech views the other institutions in the state very much as our partners," Kolb said. "Our work with the Faculty Collaboratives project is really a chance for faculty to work across institutional lines and to think about the big picture in terms of student learning."

The Indiana project will focus on change initiatives supported by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, including Degree Qualifications Profiles for better aligning pathways to two-year and four-year degrees, the Tuning process for focusing discipline-specific proficiencies, and the General Education Maps and Markers framework.

Kathy Johnson, interim executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer and professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, serves as Indiana liaison for the Faculty Collaboratives project. She said the focus on student proficiencies and high-impact teaching practices may be especially helpful for nontraditional, part-time and first-generation college students.

"We are very committed to making sure that all students are exposed to a rigorous and engaging curriculum," she said. "We are also applying that equity agenda to faculty; we are being inclusive of part-time faculty, clinical faculty, tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty."

Other leaders of the Indiana project include LEAP faculty fellows Keith Anliker, Elaine Cooney and Elizabeth Goering of IUPUI, Ange Cooksey of IU East, Heather King of Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana and Michael Wetzstein of Purdue University.

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