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The Faculty Development Center prepares the University for the new academic year

Thu, 08/04/2022 – 11:31 | From: David Tisdale

With the start of the fall 2022 semester just weeks away, the Center for Faculty Development (CFD) at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is helping the school’s educators across all disciplines prepare to make the 2022-2023 academic year a success with ongoing programming this month beginning with Plan, Prepare and Engage (PPE) immediately moving into Faculty First Week (FFW).

PPE is a series of pre-semester workshops focused on effective course design strategies. Now in its second year, the series is held during the first two weeks of August (three and two weeks before classes start) to give USM faculty enough time to make decisions about course design and any necessary changes in course structure. Held prior to the FFW, the PPE engages faculty as presenters and provides a means for CFD to showcase the exemplary instructional strategies of these faculty presenters.

The highlight of the first faculty week this year is the Convocation, with guest speaker Dr. Peter Felten, author of Relationship-rich educationto be held on the USM Hattiesburg campus on Wednesday, August 17 from 1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“At the heart of CFD’s mission is an intentional focus on building an interdisciplinary, cross-campus community,” said Dr. Kelly Ferris Lester, Director of CFD. “The sessions we offer meet the needs of each academic year and the requests of faculty, staff, and institutional partners, which strengthens our collaborations and sees us as a development hub at USM.”

Additionally, the PPE series promotes multidisciplinary networking and collaboration as workshop presenters actively engage attendees in discussions of course design strategies. This year’s PPE series will include workshops on topics including inclusive lesson design, the science of learning, academic misconduct deterrence, effective use of Canvas, student mental health, and participation in course evaluations.

FFW began in 2018 welcoming back faculty for the fall semester and sharing updates, new procedures, and faculty success in pedagogy, technology, and service. The theme for this year’s first Faculty Week is “Connect: Building Community at Southern Miss” and includes community support sessions in the classroom, between colleagues and between units. Presenters represent faculty and staff from university and student affairs, and sessions focus on supporting mental health, creating inclusive learning environments, and embracing lifelong learning. inside and outside the classroom, among other topics.

Dr Hugh Broome, Associate Director of CFD, said the Centre’s hope each year is that these programs energize faculty and focus their minds on the term ahead, further noting that they can “provide them with [faculty] with innovative ideas for their classrooms to consider, networking opportunities with Southern Miss colleagues, and a mindset toward effective teaching and student success.

FFW will conclude with a social event for faculty and staff at Thirsty Hippo, located at 309 McLeod Street, incorporating the theme “Taste of Downtown Hattiesburg”.

CFD was formed in 2016 and primarily supported the Faculty Development Institute and teaching forums of ACUE (Association of College and University Educators) at the time. Lester was appointed director of the Center in July 2018 and has been tasked with developing its services, including the creation of a faculty leadership institute.

Since the 2018-2019 academic year, the number of sessions and participation have blossomed. In 2018-2019, CFD held 25 workshops outside of its flagship programs, with around 350 participants for the year. In 2021-2022, it hosted 97 workshops outside of its flagship programs, with over 1,500 attendees.

“Much of our growth has come from the pandemic and a more intense focus on teaching across multiple modes, however, CFD has remained steady in our offerings and footfall,” Lester said.

CFD’s flagship programs have also grown under Lester’s leadership, with the creation of the Faculty Leadership Institute in 2019, which has a 50% acceptance rate. ACUE programs have grown from one program – Effective Teaching Practices – to four programs that also include Effective Online Teaching Practices, Advanced Certificate in Effective College Teaching, and Inclusive Teaching Microcredit for Equitable Learning.

“We currently serve 75-90 ACUE Fellows per year in our programming. Additionally, the ACUE modules continue to be updated and we have nine USM faculty members present in all three courses offered under the ACUE program,” added Lester. “This continues to elevate USM’s reputation for teaching and learning and strengthens the university’s national profile.”

The CFD also oversees new faculty orientation, which Lester says is critical to preparing and welcoming new faculty to USM each year. “We are integrating this (new faculty orientation) into the first week of faculty and working with the graduate school to include incoming teaching assistants (TAs) for one of the primary sessions,” Lester continued. “Orientation connects new faculty and assistants to USM’s cultural values ​​and guides them to the institution’s services that serve our students, faculty, and staff.”

Emileigh McCardle, a lecturer in USM’s School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, who is also the director of the university’s math area and math center, appreciates CFD for introducing topics relevant to the body faculty during the first faculty week that are focused on the needs and challenges they may face in the coming year.

“The Center’s on-demand, forward-thinking approach provides us with valuable experience and training to prepare well for the fall semester,” said McCardle, who is also an ACUE Fellow Emeritus. “While I learn information on how to become more efficient and effective in the development and delivery of my courses, CFD also offers training for situations I might encounter inside and outside of the classroom, and methods for dealing with these situations. I especially enjoy learning from a variety of professors across campus so that I can apply and implement these shared techniques in my own classes to increase student achievement. and student engagement.

“I really want to focus on building community in my classroom, and CFD has lots of sessions on how to do that after the challenges of the past few years. I always look forward to the first week of faculty and talking to other professors to get the semester off to a good start. »

The schedules for Plan, Prepare, and Engage (PPE), and First Faculty Week (FFW), are respectively as follows:



For more information about the Faculty Development Center, visit

To plan.  To prepare.  Engage.

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