Spring 2010 Faculty Welcome

Dear Faculty,

Welcome back to a new semester of teaching, learning, and community building as a member of Richland College’s dedicated community of students, faculty, staff, and life-long learners. Much is new for us this spring — a beautiful 118,000 sq-ft. LEED Platinum-designed/constructed science building, a robust 18% increase in student enrollment, and a successful leadership transition with the retirement of our beloved 31-year president, Dr. Steve Mittelstet, and appointment of Dr. Kay Eggleston as our interim college president. We now begin a new decade of working together to fulfill our shared vision to be the best place we can be to learn, teach, and build sustainable local and world community.

Also new this year is Richland College’s approach to our spring semester kick-off. In years past, we began the spring with a convocation gathering in the performance hall. Because we listened to your feedback from a recent survey, we have re-designed the annual spring Thursday evening activities. This year, I look forward to joining you at a reception beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, January 14 in El Paso Hall. At 7:00 p.m. you will participate in your pre-selected choice of a faculty development workshop facilitated by your master-teacher peers. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to click on the following link and register for your preferred workshop at http://www.richlandcollege.edu/faculty2010/. After this one-hour workshop, you will attend the discipline breakout sessions scheduled by your specific School. Please be on the look-out for an e-program from my office early next week.

The spring 2010 professional development program is aligned to Richland College’s Vision, Mission, Values, and one of our Core Competencies — Developing and Engaging Faculty, Staff, and Students. Let me also share with you information about other such workshops and symposiums scheduled this spring:

• The first presents another opportunity to hear Dr. Alexei Matveev, Director of Quality Enhancement and Critical-Thinking Studies at Norfolk State University. Dr. Matveev was here in November, and those who heard him shared with us that they appreciated his expertise and knowledge and felt his presentation was both relevant and meaningful. He reviewed our assessment information as he prepared his comments, making this an especially meaningful presentation for us. Therefore, we have invited him to speak with all those who teach again at the beginning of this semester. I hope those of you who did not get a chance to learn about curriculum mapping for assessment from Dr. Matveev in November will be available to attend his workshop on Friday, January 15, 2010. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

• The Arts, Science and Sustainable Community Symposium will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2010 from 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Richland College hosts a discussion on the role of water within the new model of sustainability. The symposium centers on themes of the built environment’s response to preserving ecology, striking a symbiotic equilibrium between human development and nature, and utilization of new technology towards creative responsibility. Our keynote speaker is Ignacio Bunster, lead architect of the Trinity Parks Lake Design, Dallas, Texas. The symposium will feature a dance troupe, two panel discussions on the development of a community-based sustainable future, and tours of Richland’s new Sabine Hall science building. After the symposium we will celebrate the opening of “Water: More or Less,” a regional juried art show, in the Brazos Gallery. For more information and details, visit www.richlandcollege.edu/artandscience.

• In a workshop titled Meet Generation NeXt! Dr. Mark Taylor will be spending a full day at Richland on Friday, March 5, the day after District/Richland Conference Day, orienting employees to the unique points of view of students and staff who are members of “Generation NeXt.” His morning session will focus on understanding the generational differences between those born after about 1982 and those of us who typically make up a college faculty and staff. His afternoon workshop is designed specifically for those who teach and will focus on the instructional implications of these generational differences.

What is ongoing is the college’s commitment to continuously assess and improve student learning. Let me update you on Richland College’s latest efforts on this front:

• This year, QEP discipline teams will assess at least one, or a part of one, of Richland’s Institutional/General Education Student Learning Outcomes. As you may recall, approximately 800 Richlanders-including full-time and adjunct faculty members, students, staff, administrators, and members of the community-helped to identify these outcomes as part of last year’s assessment efforts.

• Later this semester, you will have the opportunity to hear the results of the inter-disciplinary assessments of reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, computer literacy, and math. These efforts have been underway for quite a while, but this year is the final year for identifying how successful our students are with these skills, identified by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as Core Curriculum Intellectual Competencies, which are essential to learning in any discipline.

• Also this semester you will hear about the college’s new journey toward its reaffirmation of accreditation in 2013. This process is defined and required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC). As you may remember, Richland College was one of eight pilot institutions that helped the COC refine their new process, now the basis for today’s required process for all of SACS COC’s 1000+ colleges and universities. A new graphic aid illustrating Richland’s journey since its reaffirmation in 2002 is attached for your reference.

Thank you to each of you for your commitment to teaching, learning, and community building at Richland College. I look forward to seeing you Thursday evening and working alongside you for another successful semester in serving our college community.

Zarina