CLEVELAND, Miss. — The faculty of Delta State University met Thursday, August 10 for a morning of development activities and discussion as they prepare to welcome students back to classes next week. Dr. Jon Westfall, Associate Professor of Psychology, moderated the event. The organizing committee consisted of Westfall, Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Andrea Kunze, and Assistant Professor of English Dr. Valarie Morgan. They were assisted by Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation Dr. Todd Davis and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Severine Groh, as well as Hayley Murrell and Cheryl Ballard from the Provost’s office.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Andy Novobilski said, “During the semester, we don’t have a lot of time to come together as a faculty. This kind of event strengthens us as a community and as an academy of scholars with a common goal of lifting up our students and our university.”
Westfall said, “Really, the idea is ‘what do the faculty need?’ Every faculty member was invited to do a survey at the beginning of the year identifying what they thought would be useful in this endeavor then we put together a program that addresses those things.”
Westfall explained that Faculty Development Day is an opportunity for the faculty to identify different areas where they would like to have professional development – things they want to do better, things they want to be able to do in their classes or in their scholarship or with their students. The organizers then put together a series of interactive and engaging programming to address those issues.
“It isn’t just someone telling them what to do,” Westfall said, “but more what can we all do and how can we all improve our game.”
Sessions addressed topics such as setting ambitious goals for the year and how to network all of their various aims into major goals. “Faculty members have to engage in service, scholarship and teaching, so how can we do all those things under the umbrella of what’s best for the students and what’s best for the institution,” said Westfall. Other sessions were devoted to emerging technologies and how to assess technologies impact on students.
“We are looking at things like AI and machine learning and how that helps our students, versus how it hurts them in the long run, and we’ll talk about unorthodox things people are doing – one of my colleagues had students write a textbook last semester, and the idea is that you wouldn’t think of that being a regular classroom activity but it gives back to the community and now there is an open-sourced textbook on that subject that her next semester class will be editing.”