Spotlight on Success
THE ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ SPACE MANAGEMENT TEAM MOVED ITS WAY THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
(September 21, 2020)
THE ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ SPACE MANAGEMENT TEAM MOVED ITS WAY THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
Typically, at this time of year, CSUF is buzzing with sounds of campus life and the chatter of busy students. But it's 2020. Last March, the pandemic forced Titans to push pause on academic life as we knew it. And although the campus has successfully transitioned to life online, some projects simply can't be done virtually, especially when they have hard deadlines.
Enter CSUF's Academic Affairs' Space Management Team: Alyssa Adamson, Executive Director, Academic Finances and Space Management, Jacki Drumm, Associate Director of Academic Resource Projects, Cynthia Chandrasena, Assistant to the Associate Director, and student assistants, Andrea Diaz and Jason Solares. Without a pandemic, their projects are challenging. But, add a pandemic, and now their work is the equivalent of hiking up a mountain with a backpack full of weights--while wearing a mask. They had to figure out how to reach the top of each project's mountain safely.
"The pandemic brought many challenges, but our team rose to those challenges," said Drumm.
"We have seen such an amazing level of commitment, empathy, and compassion for the University and each other," said Adamson. "This makes a day full of moves, walk-throughs, and zoom meetings worth every minute."
The Space Management Team oversees academic physical resource projects and major capital and minor in-house projects. They work alongside architects, construction teams, Capital Planning and Facilities Maintenance (CPFM), and Information Technology. They also support colleges with packing boxes and moving entire departments. They are literally on the job from the first day to the last day.
One major endeavor they had to tackle during the pandemic was the McCarthy Hall 2nd Floor Renovation move. The Space Management Team was tasked to move the entire floor by mid-summer so construction could begin. They collaborated with the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and administrators in managing the relocations of teaching labs, special collections, faculty offices, and administrative offices to service students in the fall. Not only did they accomplish their work while wearing masks and social distancing, they did it while using mostly the stairs, since all elevators but one was closed due to construction. Hiking with a backpack full of weights probably would have been easier.
"This took a lot of on-campus work, collaboration, coordination, negotiation, and long days while wearing masks, socially distancing, and walking up and down the stairwells," said Drumm. "We certainly got our steps in!"
They worked together like a gold-medal relay team; each person had a specific strength to push the team over the finish line.
"Cynthia served as the point of contact and communications specialist, and ensured organization of the schedule," said Drumm. "Andrea was the zooming bee who went from space to space, floor to floor, to answer questions, and to keep everyone on point. Jason was in charge of quality control as he inspected the spaces to confirm its vacancy or completion. Together, we pulled off a successful move, and in the midst of a pandemic!"
They also worked on the annual new faculty office preparation, prepared spaces for the Fire Life Safety Improvement Project, and updated the divisional space inventory.
"Through it all, everyone always maintained the sense of urgency to the projects and the pandemic, but we never lost our sense of humor," said Adamson. "We love the ability to work with and get to know others. We have a heart of service and a commitment to our Titan family."
Pollak Librarians Are Unsung Campus Heroes
(September 14, 2020)
A university’s library is the center of campus life. It’s where lives change as students study their way to achieving their dreams. It’s a place of respite from loud roommates so students can hear themselves think. It’s where friends meet to offer each other support, many building lifelong friendships. But like so much in life right now, the pandemic changed that. The library doors closed, and Pollak’s faculty and staff scrambled to open virtually. It hasn’t been easy. How do you move a building of resources online and quickly? The Pollak faculty and staff found a way.
Cotton Coslett is Pollak’s Online Learning Librarian. He creates websites, tutorials, guides, videos, and more for the library, other librarians, and instructors. He admits that the transition during the pandemic has been anxiety-inducing, but it’s also provided some unexpected opportunities, especially since online learning is his area of expertise.
“It was a chance to really try out what I’d been working on with a much larger audience,” said Coslett. “One thing I’ve been especially proud of is the level of dedication shown by everyone involved, from the faculty to the students to the special services, everyone has rolled up their sleeves and worked to make sure that we are ready to serve the CSUF community.”
Coslett is also the liaison with the Nursing and Public Health program. He meets with students every week who are working on the front lines of the pandemic.
“Sometimes I meet with a nursing student who is spending their lunch break from a doctor’s office in their car talking to me in the parking lot,” Coslett said. “It means a lot to me that I can be helpful to anyone working that hard through this.”
Michaela Keating, the Open Educational Resources Librarian, goes the extra mile to help students whenever possible. “My normal working hours went out the window sometime in April or May,” said Keating.
Keating serves as the Subject Librarian to the Women’s & Gender Studies and Liberal Studies departments, and the Queer Studies Program and the LGBTQ Resource Center. She also works with faculty to find open and zero-cost materials in place of traditional textbooks that can be expensive, a service that’s needed now more than ever.
“As the majority of instruction shifted to remote, I knew faculty would need even more support finding alternatives to costly textbooks,” Keating said. “We all knew our students were hurting from pandemic-related layoffs, and I spent the majority of my summer reaching out to faculty and offering support to zero-cost and open educational resources as easy to adopt as possible.”
Collection Development and Management Librarian, Keri Prelitz, monitors the collection and the materials budget for Pollak. She’s proud and grateful to be part of a team that successfully navigated so many unknowns as the pandemic unfolded.
“It was with serious consideration that the library decided to close,” said Prelitz. “And much preparation and weighing of perspectives and recommendations has gone into the decision on how best to re-open. In many ways, we were in a better position as our library has had a focus on e-materials for a long time.”
On a personal note, a positive that has come out of the pandemic is that her 4-year-old twin boys stopped fighting.
“Being without their other friends has really forced them to bond and appreciate each other and their differences. I wish this was the takeaway for the rest of society, to look out for each other, be kind and empathetic.”
Pollak Library Dean, Dr. Emily Bonney, says she’s incredibly proud of how her faculty and staff have met the transition challenges. Simply reading what her team accomplished is exhausting.
“They supported the FDC in training faculty for a virtual environment, started getting print materials to patrons faster than almost any other library in the system, digitized almost 200 films for faculty in preparation for the fall, arranged a locker system for book withdrawal and return, and oversaw the installation and implementation of a new system for class reading lists,” said Dr. Bonney. “In addition, they moved hundreds of thousands of books in a full-court press to get all the library collections back to where people could get them, and they supported the creation of the study area on the first floor north. They are an amazing team.”
For Coslett, he’s hoping that at this time next year, he’ll be back in the library working with students, going to lunch with colleagues, and visiting his parents. And if there’s another world pandemic a hundred years from now, he has some words of wisdom for those in the future.
“Pay attention to the past! There are so many lessons from the pandemic of 1918 that were completely ignored because people think that what happened a hundred years ago wouldn’t be effective. But they were pleading with people to wear masks and wash their hands back then, just like they are now. Also, listen to your public health officials and make sure you take care of yourself.”
CSUF Deans Launch Academic Year Focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The start of the new academic year looks and feels unlike any other in Cal State Fullerton's history. Woven into the usual excitement of new classes and new faces are the pandemic's uncertainty, social unrest, and a pending election. The Black Lives Matter movement brought to the forefront, once again, the ongoing social injustice in the black community, and the pandemic magnified the health inequities in minority groups. That's why when CSUF's deans recently met with their faculty and staff, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion were at the top of the list of discussion and goals. Below are the action plans each college and Pollak Library are instituting this academic year.
College of the Arts
The College of the Arts (COTA) faculty and staff are explicitly focusing on inclusion and belonging in the arts. COTA invited Dr. Gina Garcia, a Cal State Northridge alum, to present a webinar at the college’s 6th Annual Faculty and Staff Convocation. Dr. Garcia is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research centers on equity and justice issues in higher education, emphasizing three core areas: Hispanic Serving Institutions, Latinx college students, and race and racism in higher education. COTA also invited the faculty and staff from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to attend Dr. Garcia’s presentation.
“We are committed to looking at decolonizing our curricula, which will, in turn, create a learning environment that is inclusive and liberating,” said Dean Dale Merrill. “We’ve got to work on disrupting the structure as Dr. Garcia put it.”
The COTA faculty and staff will approach their goal in phases, with the first phase concentrating on equity and inclusion.
College of Business and Economics
The College of Business and Economics faculty and staff have made Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a primary focus.
“It is one of the core values of the university,” Dean Morteza Rahmatian said. “We want all students to know that the College of Business and Economics is a welcoming environment for all Titans. I want to reinforce that when we listen to different perspectives, we learn from each other and grow.”
When the College meets for its “All College Forum” this October, faculty members and staff will discuss and create an action plan for the academic year.
College of Communications
“I want students, as well as faculty and staff, to understand that individual development toward anti-racism and toward diversity, equity, and inclusion is a life-long journey of learning and personal growth,” said Dean Bey-Ling Sha.
The College of Communications invited local non-profit Orange County Human Relations to present via Zoom at the college’s recent retreat. The organization develops and implements proactive human relations programs for schools and organizations. COMM faculty and staff learned about the history of racism and civil rights in Orange County, broke into facilitated small groups for discussion, and were given private time for individual reflection. They were also encouraged to create personal development goals.
“This journey toward anti-racism and toward diversity, equity, and inclusion is a very long journey,” said Dr. Sha. “It’s also a critically important journey, as I truly believe that the future of our democracy as a fully functioning society depends on it. I hope that we will all have compassion for each other and ourselves as we collectively and proactively engage with this work.”
College of Education
“We want students to understand that we have to make changes,” said Dean Lisa Kirtman.
Equity and inclusion have been part of the College of Education’s strategic plan since 2013, but in 2018 the College added on-going professional development around the concept of Just, Equitable and Inclusive Education (JEIE). Last year every faculty and staff member participated in at least four professional developments on JEIE and that education will continue in 2020 and beyond.
“In addition, with killings of African Americans across the country and the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 infections among communities of color, we have to address the underlying racist policies, practices, and ideas that impact schools and our programs,” Dr. Kirtman said. “Educators have to help to dismantle the system of racism that we find in schools and programs, as well as in society as a whole.”
Dr. Kirtman adds that the faculty and staff have each created an “Individual Equity Action Plan.”
College of Engineering and Computer Science
This summer was a busy one for ECS. Several faculty members attended webinars to learn about the best practices to increase equity in online teaching and improve online student attendance, participation and engagement.
“They are working harder than ever to adapt their course content and delivery to foster inclusivity in the virtual classrooms and to be effective instructors,” said Dean Susamma Barua. “We must strive to enhance learning environments for all students, particularly those who are historically underrepresented, first-generation and low-income.”
One of the primary goals for ECS this year is to create a college-wide committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, consisting of faculty, staff, and students.
College of Health and Human Development
When HHD faculty and staff recently met, they laid out a plan of action for this academic year. Their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work will concentrate on hiring processes, reviewing the curricula and Department Personnel Standards.
“We provided a professional development opportunity for all HHD faculty and staff to specifically help us to further our understanding of racism, oppression, Black Lives Matter, implicit bias, and how we can be more inclusive in our college,” Dean Laurie Roades said. “We are committed to critically examining where we are, what we’re doing well, and where we need to improve, and we will take action to follow up.”
HHD will also host a Research Lunch-and-Learn series this year called, “Critical Conversations on Health Equity and Justice.”
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
The faculty and staff of the College of Humanities and Socials Sciences joined the College of the Arts for a webinar, “Transforming HSI institutions,” presented by Dr. Gina Garcia, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh. Dean Sheryl Fontaine said what Dr. Garcia presented in the seminar is a framework that the college can refer to throughout the year to discuss equitable pedagogy and institutional structures.
“Equity and inclusion are and always have been values of our college,” said Dr. Fontaine. “Issues of equity and inclusion are not problems to be ‘resolved’ but are topics of ongoing conversation that must become part of the fabric of all that we do.”
Dr. Fontaine’s office and student success team are reading the campus read, The Unknown American, and discussing it together at their weekly staff meeting.
College of Natural Science and Mathematics
NSM faculty and staff began the academic year by having a college-wide conversation on the recently drafted NSM Principles of Practice at their August Convocation. It’s a framework for NSM’s core mission of inclusive and excellent education.
“We don’t have all the right answers, yet, but we do have the right people,” says Dean Marie Johnson. “And we are creating space as a college for these conversations; Convocation was a down payment on the work to come.”
Dr. Johnson adds that NSM is constantly working to build the welcoming community that all students deserve, and that begins with reflecting critically on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“Early on in the pandemic, I read something which stuck with me that said the virus didn’t break America, the virus revealed what was already broken,” said Dr. Johnson. “That means talking very plainly about equity and inclusion, systemic racism, privilege and identity, and how to strengthen our NSM community in this time of multiple crises.”
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a top priority for the Pollak Library faculty and staff. They started the academic year with a webinar from the American Library Association, “When Antiracist Reading Lists Aren’t Enough.” Dean Emily Bonney said they know there is substantial literature about the racism inherent in traditional ways for delivering library services. Their goal is to change that and to make Pollak Library even more welcoming and inclusive than it already is.
“We want to go past a statement about DEI issues and to engage in a serious assessment of how we do our work,” said Dr. Bonney. “We are identifying ways to convey library services in a more inclusive way, that recognizes the diversity of experiences of the students that come to our library.”
This fall, the team will participate in a series of webinars and workshops that their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee organized.
CSUF FACULTY MEMBERS DISCOVER REAL POSSIBilities IN VIRTUAL TEACHING
"When you teach in the classroom, you are teaching in a bubble," says Kelly Ruppert, a CSUF Department of Geological Sciences lecturer. "For that hour or two, the rest of the world exists beyond your classroom walls."
But then the pandemic hit…the bubble burst.
The traditional classroom abruptly transformed into a computer screen, and the word "zoom" became woven into our daily conversations. Economics professor, Dr. Kristin Kleinjans, worried about losing that personal connection with her students, but it turns out that not even a virus can infect the strong bond between teacher and student.
"One advantage is that students seemed less rushed, albeit also for the wrong reasons since many had lost their jobs, and more open to engaging at a deeper level," said Dr. Kleinjans. "In a strange way, I also think that one-on-one interactions on Zoom can almost be more personal than in person. Maybe it's because it happens without the usual official trappings."
When CSU Chancellor Tim White announced that the CSU system would move to a virtual setting this fall, Dr. Kleinjans knew she needed to make sure her students still received the best class experience possible. She joined hundreds of other CSUF faculty members and spent the summer taking courses through the Faculty Development Center, focusing on the Canvas platform. Her instructor was Ruppert, who, in addition to teaching geology students, is also a 2020 FDC Workshop Facilitator.
"I really appreciated Kelly's careful explanations and patience with my many questions," Dr. Kleinjans said. "The course was super helpful and provided a lot of resources for what has to be almost every important aspect of virtual teaching and Canvas."
Ruppert facilitated "Teaching Remotely" workshops for 35-40 new faculty every week for ten weeks. The teachers became the students, learning the way everyone else learns these days, virtually.
"I have learned how dedicated and caring our faculty are," said Ruppert. "Many faculty members are going through their own struggles, including battles with cancer, yet they still are so worried about the CSUF students. I was also inspired by my spring semester geology students. I felt like my class didn't miss a beat. "
Dr. Kleinjans says the pandemic opened possibilities in teaching that never crossed her mind.
"There has been no other time when all faculty stepped back and thought deeply about how to adapt their courses to a new environment. This has led me to rethink how I teach in 'normal times' as well," she said. "Many of the changes we are making now are here to stay, whether these are flipped classrooms, more interactive and engaging assignments, or less emphasis on exams."
For Ruppert, helping faculty transition to virtual teaching gave her the unexpected gift of friendship with Dr. Kleinjans and other fellow faculty members.
"I feel like I made some genuine friendships," says Kelly. "It's beautiful to see that these connections can be made online. I much prefer being face-to-face, but the human connection still can be made."
For details on the courses offered at the Faculty Development Center, please visit fdc.fullerton.edu.