Summer camp for profs! – Faculty Resource Network, New York University

When Morris Brown College wanted faculty members to participate in
a highly regarded faculty development program during the summer of
1997, school administrators turned to Dr. Kathie Stromile Golden, a
newly hired political science professor in the school’s social science
department, to make a pitch to her peers.

It fell to Golden, a veteran participant in faculty development
programs throughout much of her teaching career, to recruit fellow
faculty members to apply to New York University’s (NYU) renowned
Faculty Resource Network summer seminar and workshop program because
she had participated in it in 1996.

Golden, who had joined the Morris Brown faculty in the fall of
1996, used a Valentine’s Day breakfast which she hosted as the forum
for her pitch. Fifteen faculty members attended.

“I think it’s a good program for people who are developing new
courses,” she says. “We [faculty] have tremendous teaching loads. This
gives us an opportunity to think and reflect. It is a way for us to
come down from the stress of our jobs.”

Golden convinced all of the breakfast attendees to apply, and
twelve of the fifteen won admission to the NYU seminars. That summer,
Golden, her Morris Brown colleagues, and more than 100 other faculty
members from colleges and universities in the eastern United States
spent either one or two weeks soaking up knowledge and new teaching
techniques at the NYU campus.

“For many of my [Morris Brown] colleagues, it was the first time
they had ever attended a faculty development program. It was very
exciting for them,” Golden says.

Last summer, the summer seminar program included offerings, such as
“Comparative Women’s Studies,” “The Black American Experience:
Perspective in the Social Sciences,” and “Undergraduate Faculty
Enhancement in the Molecular and Cellular Biology.” The courses are
designed to enhance and reinvigorate liberal arts teaching among
faculty at participating institutions.

This year, NYU officials are expecting between 150 and 200 faculty members to participate.

A “Partnership” Among Institutions

NYU’s award-winning network conducts one of the largest regional
faculty development programs in the nation. In addition to the summer
seminar and workshop program, the network sponsors a University
Associates program, a Scholar-in-Residence program, discipline-based
conferences, faculty exchanges, and workshops.

The broad purpose of the network to forge links among faculty
members across academic disciplines and institutions while advancing
liberal arts teaching. NYU officials say that their faculty benefit
from the exposure it has to faculty from other institutions and from
collaborative projects that have resulted because of the network.

Founded in 1984 by New York University president Dr. L. Jay Oliva,
the Faculty Resource Network links NYU with twenty-eight liberal arts
colleges, including thirteen historically Black colleges and
universities. The network was launched initially with support from the
Ford Foundation. In 1989, a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts
allowed the Network to include historically Black institutions (HBCUs)
as participants.

Since its initiation, nearly 3,200 faculty members have
participated in Faculty Resource Network programs. That total includes
769 summer seminar and workshop participants, 205
Scholars-in-Residence, and 1,580 University Associates, according to
NYU officials.

“We thought it would be appropriate to give faculty the chance to
recharge their batteries,” Oliva says. “[The Faculty Resource Network]
turned out to be a powerful idea.”

The University Associates program allows full-time faculty members
at fourteen New York-area network institutions to use NYU academic
facilities throughout the year.

The Scholar-in-Residence program lures academicians from network
schools to NYU for a semester of study and research. Scholars have used
the time to complete books, design new courses, and pursue advanced
research.

Last summer, Dr. Alan Colon spent two weeks at NYU working on a
book as a Scholar-in-Residence. This summer, he is hoping to get a
month-long appointment as a Scholar-in-Residence.

“Having a heavy teaching load makes it very difficult to do
research if you honor your teaching obligations well. It doesn’t leave
you much time,” Colon says. He expects to use the faculty contacts he
has made through the Network to recruit contributors for his book on
multicultural education.

NYU officials insist that the school does not regard the Faculty
Resource Network as a recruitment vehicle. John Gates, associate
director of the network, says the program would not be successful if
NYU administrators used it to identify and recruit scholars.

“This is really a partnership among the network schools. The
schools would reject the partnership out-of-hand if NYU attempted to
use it as a recruiting program,” Gates says.

Special Appeal for Black Scholars

For African American faculty members at NYU, the participation of
HBCU faculty members in network programs represents a compelling draw.
Dr. Tricia Rose, the author of Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture
in Contemporary America and a NYU faculty member in Africana studies
and history, says the prospect of interacting with Black faculty from
HBCUs played a major part in attracting her to participate in the
Faculty Resource Network.

“The university let me know [the network] was in existence and
described it as a program committed to sharing resources of NYU with
historically Black institutions,” Rose says.

During the summer of 1995, Rose convened a week-long seminar,
entitled “Voice, Power and Intimacy: Representations of Black Women in
American Culture,” which attracted more than twenty faculty members.
Rose says she regarded the seminar as an opportunity to learn from HBCU
faculty members. Many of them had considerably more experience teaching
African American students than she. It was those perspective which the
young NYU scholar was eager to elicit from the HBCU professors.

“To me it was a two-way street. It was an exchange of ideas and perspectives,” Rose says.

Last summer, Rose moderated a symposium, entitled “Academic
Activism: Race, Gender, and the Role of Scholars in Contemporary
American Society.” Prominent NYU historian Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley,
Columbia University historian Dr. Manning Marable, and Spelman College
English professor Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall also participated in the
symposium — which attracted several hundred people.

Scholars from outside of the NYU community, such as Marable and
Guy-Sheftall, have begun to play major roles at the summer seminars and
other network events. NYU also has enlisted leading scholars from
non-network Schools to share their perspectives and research with
network faculty members.

Dr. Barry Strauss, a professor of history and classics at Cornell
University, said he was invited by an NYU professor last year to help
convene a seminar entitled “The Classical World.” Part of the reason
why convening a session at the summer seminar appealed to Strauss was
that he believed he could network with African American scholars at
HBCUs.

In addition to his scholarship on ancient Greece, Strauss, who is
White, conducts research on topics in African American history.

“At Cornell, I don’t have an opportunity to meet with HBCU faculty.
It’s only by meeting people outside of my institution that I can get a
real sense of what’s happening in American higher education,” he says.

Fostering Collaboration

In 1996, the Faculty Resource Network received a three-year,
$300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support programs
“aimed at improving the teaching of molecular and cellular biology in
introductory and advanced undergraduate courses in the life sciences.”
The grant was awarded largely on the basis of a collaborative effort
among faculty at NYU, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Spelman
College.

Dr. Neville R. Kallenbach, a NYU professor of chemistry, says the
collaboration originated a few years after NYU officials decided to add
a science component to network programs. Among HBCUs in the network,
faculty members expressed a strong interest in having courses and
conferences focus on the teaching of molecular and cellular biology,
according to Kallenbach.

With Xavier and Spelman leading the way, the HBCUs, in particular,
want to substantially boost the numbers of African American students
seeking their Ph.D.s in the life sciences.

“Xavier and Spelman have quite advanced programs in the life
sciences. [NYU faculty] have learned an incredible amount about
teaching biology and chemistry from the faculty members at those
schools,” Kallenbach says.

This year, following two summers of intensive teaching workshops,
the grant program is concluding with a three-day symposium for network
science faculty in Atlanta.

Kallenbach says of the collaboration, “We’ve gotten back at least as much as we’ve given.”

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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