By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - Rebecca Fisher and Christine Blake from the ESL Academy found just the kind of information they were looking for at the Center for Faculty Development open house.
Fisher is director of the university's English as a Second Language Academy that opened last spring in downtown Denver, while Blake is an ESL specialist. "We want to beef up our curriculum and add more content," Fisher said. "It looks like the folks over here will be able to help us out. ... It's great to know we have the backup and support."
Support is the specialty at the Center for Faculty Development, which this year has a new leader in Acting Director Donna Sobel, PhD, an associate professor in special education. At today's open house Sobel and her staff chatted with visitors who enjoyed light snacks and refreshments.
Sobel stressed that the center is a resource for faculty of all levels -- from adjunct and senior instructors to tenured professors. The center offers workshops, mentoring, coaching, syllabi development, dossier review and grants.
The mission for the center, founded by associate professor Ellen Stevens, who retired earlier this year, developed from the notion that CU Denver attracts a diverse student population, so how can faculty make the most of that diversity. Also, how can they support and learn from each other.
"There's so much out there for faculty development. We can always be better," Sobel said. "It's been our hope -- and I think it's been realized -- that faculty can continue to develop, both in their research and their teaching."
For example, the center offers the Tenure Track Mentoring Program, for tenure-track assistant professors, and the Teaching Mentors Program, for any faculty member. Sobel said she has personally benefited from the programs, helping her to forge bonds with colleagues and "keeping me on my toes."
Last year, the Center for Faculty Development fully funded numerous grant proposals it received.
Andres Lema-Hincapie, PhD, assistant professor in Modern Languages, received a $2,000 grant for his proposal: "Gabriel Garcia Marquez For the Big Screen: Words, Images in Movement."
"It's important, not only as professors that we have that funding support for our programs, but it's a way to foster our students' goals in the profession, as a way of introducing them to the academic grant system," Lema-Hincapie said. He was helped in writing his grant proposal by Sarah Johnson, an undergraduate in International Studies.
The Center for Faculty Development offers weekly workshops. Check the website for topics, which include enhancing classroom participation, teaching portfolios, teaching large classes and instructional uses of social networking.
(Photo: From left, Molly O'Brien, Andres Lema-Hincapie and Sarah Johnson chat at the open house for the Center for Faculty Development on Sept. 18.)