Faculty Awards, Winter 2021, We Care, Teaching with T-Haas, Harvesting Hope
Faculty Awards, Winter 2021, We Care, Teaching with T-Haas, Harvesting Hope
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter October 2020
Headshot of Mark Schaub, interim dean of Brooks College
Interim Dean Mark Schaub

Dean's Message

Thin ribbons of fear snake bluely through you like a system of rivers. We need a cloudburst or soothing landscape fast, to still this panic. Maybe a field of dracaena, or a vast stand of sugar pines—generous, gum-yielding trees—to fill our minds with vegetable wonder and keep dread at bay.
- Amy Gerstler
In the Brooks College, or at GVSU, or in our wider community, we do not and will not forsake our students, and we cannot and will not ignore the pressing political and societal responsibilities we share. Retreating from the important work to be done is not an option, especially when the well-being and learning of our students is on the line and the future of our society and democracy are on the line. The stakes are too high.
But sometimes in order to continue, we need to pause. We know we need to somehow figure out a way to communicate in a civil and constructive way with neighbors on the other side of the political fence. We gotta live with them. We know we need to figure out a way to grind out our work and lives amidst the long haul of the pandemic. The virus has found a permanent home in our species. But these efforts take energy and we are limited in what we can do.
Teaching first-year students with the amazing Maureen Wolverton reminds me that they are trying hard, often struggling, and need to be encouraged to take breaks. This week’s mindfulness reflections in that course come—we think—at an appropriate Week 6 moment. The same is true for all of us.
After an exhausting August and September, last weekend Gayle and I were able to slip off to remote Beaver Island for two nights. We were inspired to go where the people, and the 5G, weren’t. And to see first-hand the island kingdom created by “King” James Jesse Strang and his followers (as described in Miles Harvey’s brilliant history, The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch). Coming back from Beaver Island felt like we not only left Michigan but left this country. In the remote interior of the island, our primary companions were frogs and snakes, both trying to store up calories for the harsh winter ahead.
A walk in the gaudy beech-maple forest of the Allendale campus may be your preferred form of “vegetable wonder,” or you may opt for a novel, or music, or fresh-glazed orchard donuts. Snatch whatever pause you need, as the rest of the world needs you. At least the best version of you possible in late 2020. Civil but difficult conversations. Unweeded farm plots. Phenomenal students. Building a future. All that awaits you. Take an afternoon or take a weekend. We know you’ll be back.

Faculty Awards Nominations Due by October 15

Each February, excellent faculty are honored for a range of accomplishments: teaching, scholarship, service to the institution and community, and mentoring students. The nomination deadlines for these awards are due to the Dean's Office by October 15. See the Provost's website to learn more about the criteria and nomination process.

Winter 2021 Academic Calendar

Grand Valley has modified the Winter 2021 academic calendar. The revised calendar starts on Tuesday, January 19, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration, eliminates spring break, and ends on May 1. This results in a 15-week semester, consistent with past semesters, and instructional time is unchanged. The operational continuity of the university also remains unchanged – university offices will be open beginning Monday, January 4 as normal. Courses for the Winter 2021 semester will continue to be a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online.

Faculty Work in Partnership to Fill Care Packages for Students in Isolation, Quarantine

Faculty members across campus have partnered with the Division of Student Affairs to fill care packages for residential students who are in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19 protocols.
The We Care Project is a collaborative effort among faculty, the Dean of Students' care team, and Housing and Residence Life.
Melanie Shell-Weiss, associate professor and chair of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, said Brooks College faculty and staff members initially discussed the idea of collecting items for students. The initiative was later unanimously approved by the Executive Committee of University Academic Senate.
Items like books, puzzles, snacks, personal letters and more can be donated through October 30. Suggested donation items and drop-off locations are posted on the We Care website.

Coats for Students

Do you know a student in need of a winter coat who can't afford to purchase one? The Brooks College Office of Integrative Learning and Advising has a collection of new and gently used coats available in 133 Lake Michigan Hall.
Since 2019, 165 coats have been distributed to students.

Back in the Classroom, Haas Enjoys Teaching Remotely

Two of Grand Valley's colleges can lay claim to having a former university president among the faculty members who are teaching classes in the fall semester.
President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas teaches courses for the College of Education and Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. And like other faculty members, Haas spent his summer preparing content as well as learning new methods of teaching remotely.
It was a productive and busy summer, he said.
"Knowing I needed to engage in new modalities and learn Blackboard and Banner, I reached out to faculty colleagues, took a Magna online course, aligned my course outlines with others who have taught, added my own perspectives, and participated in new faculty orientation," Haas said.
Haas served as Grand Valley's president from 2006-2019 and committed to teaching classes after he retired.
In Brooks College, Haas is teaching "Leadership and Social Change," in the Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies (IRIS) department. The course meets synchronously Thursday evenings. From his home in Rockford, Haas engages students via Zoom in active discussions and said they are achieving the learning outcomes of critical thinking and self-assessments while working in groups.
As GVSU president, Haas often spoke about servant leadership, and he returns to the topic in class.
"Students are expanding their learning into social change movements of their choosing and creating plans for actions," he said. " I view my role in this class as a mentor."
Read the full article on GVNext.

Harvesting Hope at the SAP

The Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) was featured in a photo essay, "Harvesting Hope," created by the GVSU Photography Team. The photos highlight the work of the SAP this summer in donating over 500 pounds of produce to support communities impacted by COVID-19.
The Office of Integrative Learning and Advising decorated with pumpkins and Halloween lights
The Office of Integrative Learning and Advising, located in 133 Lake Michigan Hall, is decorated for Halloween to brighten the day of students who visit.

Faculty Recognition

Denise Goerisch, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies and IRIS assistant department chair, co-authored a book, The True Costs of College, published by Palgrave.
Jim Goode, retired professor of history and founder of the Middle East Studies program in Brooks College, has received a 2020 Jere L Bacharach Service Award from the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). The award recognizes the contributions of individuals through their outstanding service to MESA or the profession. Jim will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony on October 11.
Virtual Study Abroad Fair October 12-15, 2020


Faculty Calendar

October 12-16: Mid-term exams
October 15: Faculty Awards nominations due to the Dean's Office
October 20: Mid-term grades due by 12:00 p.m.
November 2: Faculty Activity Plans (FAPs) due to Unit Heads
November 20: Drop with a "W" deadline
November 25-29: Thanksgiving recess
December 12: Classes end and commencement
December 14-19: Final exams
December 19: Semester ends
December 22: Final grades due by 12:00 p.m.
January 19: Winter 2021 classes begin
February 9: Faculty Awards Convocation
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