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The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Faculty come together for the Center for Faculty Excellence opening
Dr. Gary Leising, Associate Provost Ann Damiano and Interim Provost Stephanie Nesbitt attending the Center for Faculty Excellence opening on Jan. 17. /Photo courtesy of the Utica University Instagram,

Faculty and administration joined together to celebrate 126 White Hall becoming home to the new Center for Faculty Excellence on Monday, Jan. 18. This center was created to offer a space where faculty can find support in teaching, scholarship, and service.


The idea for the center was conceptualized by former Dean and Provost John Johnsen and lobbied for by President Todd Pfannestiel during his time as provost.


According to Interim Provost Stephanie Nesbitt, allocating resources from restructuring the Division of Academic Affairs created the opportunity for the center’s creation after years of discussing the possibility.


At least two provosts before me supported the idea, but the timing wasn’t right for a variety of reasons,” said Nesbitt, who was an assistant professor and director of risk management and insurance, prior to becoming interim provost. “I am thrilled that the university has found a way to meet this long-standing request.”


The first step of creating the center was appointing someone to helm the role of dean in the new division of faculty excellence. This candidate was found in Gary Leising, a distinguished professor of English who also served as the director of the new General Education program since its inception.


In his new role as dean of the division of faculty excellence, Leising will oversee the center and provide one-on-one support for faculty members, as well as determine what programming the Utica faculty want.


“[Nesbitt] approached me about the opportunity to make this long-awaited idea a reality,” Leising said. “I worked with her and Senior Associate Provost Ann Damiano over the past several months to develop our goals, mission, and a strategy to open the Center this semester.”


According to Leising, the goal of the inaugural semester is to shape this new office into a communal space for faculty to gather and discuss what assistance the center can provide.


“We aim to provide something for all faculty: for example, mentoring for new faculty and a place to discuss pedagogical innovation for faculty at any level–from adjuncts faculty to distinguished professors,” Leising said.


Another role of the center is to have a shared space for collaboration, workshops and discussions to take place amongst all faculty members.


Kelly Minerva, an associate professor of English at Utica, attended the Center of Faculty Excellence’s opening event and said she is excited for the opportunities the center will provide for communication and collaboration between faculty of all levels of their careers.


I hope there are some decentralized events that enable sharing and workshopping between faculty at every level of their careers–tenured, untenured, and non-tenure track,” Minerva said. “I learn so much about my own teaching listening to my colleagues talk about their teaching styles and techniques, and I’m excited that we will now have space to exchange ideas about our research and service, as well.”


Nesbitt said she is excited to see what Leising and the faculty create in this new space.

Nesbitt added: “Then, it will be my job, with the help of President Pfannestiel, to help make their visions a reality.”

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