Unit Facilitation of Professional Development
A commitment to professional development and continuous learning is demonstrated at the institutional and unit levels and reflected in the conceptual framework and College of Education annual goals. Professional development activities are designed to support the five criteria used for performance evaluation in the retention, promotion, and tenure process and implemented at the institutional, college, and program levels.
The Center for Excellence and Teaching and Learning (CETL) serves as an excellent resource for professional development and is active in sponsoring workshops, conferences, mentoring, and consultation activities to support faculty. The CETL also provide grants to promote service learning and hosts a library of professional resources for faculty to improve teaching, scholarship, and service.
The Office of Sponsored Programs provides funding to faculty for professional development through short-term, long-term, and research grants. The application process is competitive; however, the institution has dedicated significant resources to professional development. Short-term grants support attendance at workshops, courses, or training programs; long-term grants support curriculum development, study in a current or new discipline, travel projects, or pursuit of a terminal degree. Research grants are also available for faculty to support research or scholarly and creative activities. SCSU also developed a University Researcher Fund to assist faculty with research costs related to preparing an effective external grant proposal of at least $25,000 for research and/or scholarly or creative activity. Since 2000, 64 faculty members within the unit have received short-term grants, 6 have received long-term grants, 2 have received research grants, and 9 have received a University Researcher Award totaling approximately $140,000 in support.
Each faculty member also receives $1,115 annually for professional and scholarly activities. These funds can be used for conference travel, research travel and expenses, professional memberships, subscriptions, and/or professional materials such as books and software.
Sabbaticals are also recognized and supported as an excellent source of professional development. As stated in the contractual agreement, faculty members are eligible for a sabbatical after ten years of service; however, faculty can apply after seven years of service, and if funding is available, the sabbatical will be granted. Sabbaticals can be taken by semester or for the full academic year. Since 2000-2007, 46 faculty members in the College of Education applied for sabbaticals; 43 (93%) sabbaticals were awarded to support their professional development goals. This represents a significant commitment by the institution to ongoing professional development.
Within the College of Education, the Office of Special Projects and Applied Research Center (SPARC) coordinates the professional development activities and also provides information and support for faculty members who are pursuing grant activities. Faculty members have been active in pursuing external grant funding, receiving 51 grants totally over ten million dollars in support since 2000. A portion of indirect costs collected from external grants and contracts is returned annually to principal investigators, their departments, and the college to support continued professional development efforts and activities.
To support professional development within the unit, the College of Education (COE) sponsors a monthly symposium, a speaker series, and a writing group (COE Scribes). The COE Symposia are held on the first Monday of each month and address current issues or a series of presentations related to a general theme. For example, the 2007-2008 symposia are focused on global education resulting in presentations by faculty and staff on South Africa, Chile, China, Australia, and Italy. The COE Speaker Series features national presentations by scholars who focus on topics or issues of national interest within the profession. The COE Scribes, a strong example of the connection between faculty evaluations and professional development, was formed based on the expressed need by faculty members for support in the area of scholarly or creative achievements or research. The Scribes group is a support network for faculty who are working to find ways to develop and disseminate their research and scholarly activity in meaningful ways. The COE Scribes group meets several times each semester and the meetings are facilitated by two senior faculty members, who have extensive experience in research and publishing.
The College of Education has also established a system of support for new faculty. Departments have established mentoring strategies that are effective within the discipline. The dean and associate dean meet with new faculty members on several times each semester to address various issues related to the unit assessment system, conceptual framework, performance evaluation, and candidate issues.
Faculty use technology to enhance their pedagogy and model how technology can be used to improve learning. Technology support for faculty is very strong at the institutional and unit levels. According to the 2007 Annual Report of Learning Resources and Technology Services, 152 workshops were conducted for technology training and support; 150 sessions were also conducted to provide training on new software products. The College of Education also has a full-time technology technician to assist faculty with their technology needs and is available for training or consultation.
Summary: Professional development is clearly a priority at the unit and institutional levels and is directly aligned with the basic components of the conceptual framework and the performance evaluation system. Systems are in place to provide support for faculty to improve their teaching, technological skills, and stay current within their professional field of study.