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Advisory Council Instructional Excellence
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Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence Meeting
Date: Monday, September 29, 2003
Time: 8:30 am
Location: Room 826 Cathedral of learning
Present: A. Blair (Chair), Bopaya Bidanda, Ellen Cohn, Seymour Drescher, Joe Grabowski, Steve Husted, Amy Knapp, Helene Lawson, Paul Rogers, Nina Schor, Kuldeep Shastri, David Wilkins, Pat Wright, and D. Davis (Staff Liaison)


1. Welcome:

Dr. Blair welcomed members of Council, and asked each member to introduce him/herself to the group, including Provost James M. Maher, who was present to give the Council its charge for the coming year.

2. Provost’s Charge to Council:

Dr. Blair introduced Provost Maher. Following a brief background on the formation of Council, he noted that the Council has done a good job over the past five years, attributing it to the members who are strong scholars and teachers and appointed to the Council based on a recommendation from Deans. By encouraging instructional development and teaching excellence across the University, Council has elevated the importance of instructional issues on the several campuses through the instructional grants program. This awards program has given faculty the resources to improve instructional programs by providing the funding to try out new approaches to teaching. Provost Maher noted that last year (the fourth year of the awards program), the number of applications declined. He stated that it would be interesting to discover the reason(s) for this decrease and asked Council to undertake this project, using the stated program objectives and suggested several ways to accomplish this task, including: (a) review the advertising “process”; and (b) investigate whether proposal submissions are being discouraged, in some sense, because of unintended impediments to proposal submission. Council has also served an important role in giving advice to Dr. Davis and her CIDDE colleagues in using their faculty development resources to assist faculty with their instructional needs. Provost Maher was pleased with the CIDDE-sponsored Summer Institutes, which offer concentrated courses on effective teaching that are popular with faculty. One change that has had a big impact is that Dr. Davis is now working with schools individually to give them the help they need in the area of faculty development, as the schools of the University tend to have a variety of styles of curriculum and instruction and, as with research, these need to be addressed at the School level. The Teaching Excellence Fair showcases the ACIE awards; however, Provost Maher encouraged Council to take this farther by identifying in the ACIE awards program what is working and what is not, and whether the program could be made more effective. Data collection on this project began last year, but more may be needed to realize this goal. In referring to the Best Practices Report, completed last year, Provost Maher asked that Council look at what other schools do that we may want to implement; however, he cautioned that this should be conducted with great care. For example, he mentioned that other universities make public use of teaching award winners--a good thing, but this has the potential of placing these faculty members in a position where they “preach” to colleagues, and not necessarily represent a “best practice.” In closing, the Provost thanked Council for all the work they have done in the past and will carry out this coming academic year.

3. Approval of the Minutes:

Dr. Blair called members’ attention to the minutes of the June 2, 2003 meeting, which were distributed beforehand, and requested a motion to accept these minutes. The motion was made and seconded, and the minutes were subsequently approved.

4. Council Committees and Membership:

Dr. Blair identified the three committees of the Council, noting that one committee has been renamed; these are: Best Practices’ Implementation (formerly Planning and Best Practices), Faculty Development, and Instructional Grants. He briefly explained the focus of each committee, noting that Faculty Development works closely with Dr. Davis and CIDDE; Instructional Grants oversees the RFP and will do the groundwork for the awards program evaluation; and Best Practices’ Implementation will look at outcomes of the Best Practices Report and bring important issues to the full Council. Chairpersons, as well as members, are needed to replace outgoing members. Dr. Blair requested that members state a preference for a committee at their earliest convenience.


Innovation in Education Awards 2004 RFP:


In reviewing the process for distributing and revising the RFP for this year, Dr. Blair called members’ attention to the minor suggestions made at the June 2 meeting (see ACIE Minutes, June 2, 2003). In addition to these items, other suggestions include distributing a more visible hard-copy and sending the RFP to deans via e-mail so that it can be forwarded to faculty colleagues; a second recommendation was that the submission date be changed to the end of January. Dr. Husted suggested that links to the previous winners on the Council website might also include a list of all winners. Dr. Schor asked if there was any sense that the drop-off in the number of proposals submitted was in any one school; and Dr. Wilkins was concerned that one school had several proposals submitted but did not receive an award. Dr. Blair replied that last year’s drop-off was pretty much across the board, and there is data on where proposals have come from previously, and there is not a particular pattern.

6. Best Practices Survey Report:
  Dr. Blair informed the Council that the Best Practices Report was submitted to the Provost in June (copies of this document were available for new members; continuing members who would like another copy should let him know). This report is the basis for the work of the Best Practices Implementation Committee, which will take the lead in recommending specific practices for discussion by the full Council for possible implementation. Several topics suggested by Dr. Blair for consideration were: additional programs for new faculty and formation of a “community of scholars” on specific instructional topics (e.g., diversity in the classroom).
7. Teaching Excellence Fair:
  Dr. Davis distributed a tentative agenda for this year’s Fair, which will showcase the ACIE-funded projects conducted during 2002-2003 and is scheduled for Friday, November 14, 9:00am-1:00pm. Other faculty development activities scheduled for the Fair include conversations on teaching approaches (which are very popular), demonstrations of technology-based teaching aids (such as Blackboard, Janus, etc.), and electronic student portfolios, as well as faculty teaching portfolios. There will also be a table which will be staffed by ACIE members, who will be available to answer questions about the awards program and the RFP process. Dr. Blair noted that the Faculty Development Committee should work with CIDDE on ways to encourage faculty members’ attendance at this event.

After briefly describing last Spring’s Faculty Diversity Seminar, Dr. Davis reported that the results of the evaluations received from this year’s Diversity Fellows were outstanding. The Seminar coordinators, Profs. Audrey Murrell (KGSB) and Valire Copeland (SSW), very effectively team-taught the sessions. A major highlight of the evaluations was that participants unanimously would recommend the Seminar to their colleagues. This was also evidenced in an electronic survey conducted by the advisory committee that contacted previous participants in the program, to which 52% responded. Results indicated that faculty are using what they learned as well as improving on the work they did in the Seminars.

Dr. Davis noted that the 2003 Summer Instructional Development Institute, conducted over the summer, is another example of the types of activities that CIDDE offers in collaboration with Council and the Provost’s Office. This program provides concentrated instructional development opportunities on subjects designed to promote effective teaching and use of instructional technology. New Faculty Orientation is another program that CIDDE cooperates in conducting, and she distributed the packet of information given to new faculty at the August 21 event for Council members’ information.

8. ACIE Webpage:
  Dr. Blair then drew members’ attention to the contents of the Council’s webpage at http://www.pitt.edu/AFShome/f/a/facaffs/public/html/acie/index.html, which contains a copy of last year’s RFP, meeting minutes, and a list of members with photographs. Regarding the photos, he asked new members to either set up a photo session to have a recent photo taken or, if available, to submit their own digital photo. (Mrs. Wykoff will contact members with information on setting up the on-campus studio photo session in the near future.) Dr. Blair requested that members take a look at the website and if there are suggestions for improvements to let him or Dr. Davis know. 
9. Meeting Schedule:
  A meeting schedule for this academic year’s schedule was distributed with the agenda, and Dr. Blair pointed out the special meetings of Council; namely the Teaching Excellence Fair (November 14) and the Saturday Proposal Review Session (March 13). Dr. Blair indicated that this schedule was developed using last year’s, and that the varied meeting days are scheduled so that members who are teaching are not excluded from all meetings.
10. Adjournment:
  With no other business before the Council, a motion for adjournment was made and seconded, and the meeting adjourned at 9:30 am.



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