TABLE OF CONTENTS

Vol. 4 (new series), No. 1, Fall 2017

GRANTS PROGRAM

ACS Grants Program Update
Critical Partnerships: Highlighting the Work of our Grant Liaisons
ACS support for R1 partnerships
Instructional Software for Liberal Learning Outcomes
The Value of Collaborative Planning

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

New Diversity and Inclusion Section
Update from ACS Director of Diversity and Inclusion
First Days of Class: Who We Are, Why We Are Here

ACS NEWS

Council of Deans Addresses Free Speech
ACS Launches Legal Services
Latin American Studies Symposium, April 6, 2018
Enrollment Officers Present at Superconferece
Subscribe to the ACS Palladian

ACS Grants Program Update

–Jennifer Dugan, Director of Faculty Programs

Jennifer DuganAfter engaging in extensive outreach efforts over the winter and spring, ACS received nearly 50 grant pre-proposals in June for the 2018 funding cycle. They involved participation from all 16 ACS campuses, drew on all three areas of our grant, and included faculty and staff from across disciplines and campus offices. We did not anticipate, but it does not surprise us to see, such high-level engagement with our new Mellon grant program on themes, including:

topics of proposals

Full proposals are due on November 2nd, and our Selection Committee is gearing up for the final review stage. We are excited by the level of collaboration, creativity of ideas, and quality of intended outcomes in the proposals thus far and look forward to announcing the final awards on December 15th. Don’t forget to check the ACS Grants Facebook group for updates along the way.
Looking ahead, ACS will offer two applications cycles next year. Pre-proposals for the first cycle are due March 30. For details about the 2018 process – and for all information about the ACS grant program – please visit our redesigned webpage (www.colleges.org/grants ). We would welcome the opportunity to visit ACS campuses during the fall and spring semesters to discuss the current program and listen for ideas about future funding. Please be in touch with Jennifer at jdugan@colleges.org to arrange a visit or share ideas.

Critical Partnerships: Highlighting the Work of our Grant Liaisons

–Dr. Leslie Templeton, Associate Provost of Faculty Development, Hendrix College and A. J. Brigati, Office of Sponsored Programs, Birmingham-Southern College

ACS staff work closely with many campus professionals, including IT staff, librarians, teaching and learning center leaders, and study away staff. In this issue of the Palladian, we highlight the contributions of our grants officers, who work with campus administrative leaders, faculty, and staff to generate interest, support, and proposals for ACS grant funding. Leslie Templeton and AJ Brigati are two such people, and their experiences are shared below. We appreciate the efforts of all our grants officers to help make the ACS grant program so successful.–Jennifer Dugan

Hendrix faculty enthusiastically received the news about the ACS grant program that involves innovative instruction and collaborative curriculum, and that has diversity and inclusion as a focus. I worked with a number of colleagues as they developed ideas for projects that would provide rich and meaningful experiences for our students. Jennifer Dugan, ACS Director of Faculty Programs, held a day’s worth of one-on-one meetings with faculty, listened to project ideas and gave useful feedback to shape the projects; she also led a lunch-and-learn meeting with a small group of faculty.

Two pre-proposals emerged from this process. One includes an ACS-wide Inclusive Statistics Conference, at which faculty could share strategies they’ve developed to address the challenges of teaching visually impaired students, first-generation college students, and math-anxious students. The other is a project that examines micro-aggressions and -affirmations and the creation of a photography exhibit as a teaching tool. Throughout the process, I remained in contact with faculty proposers as they fine-tuned their project ideas, primarily serving to ensure the project idea was in alignment with the grant’s goals, and presented the initial project ideas to our Provost and academic area chairs. As our faculty prepare the final proposals, I have read through feedback from the selection committee and have weighed in on changes the faculty proposers are considering to strengthen their proposals, serving as a sounding board. — Leslie Templeton

I would like to highlight the early and ongoing dialog with and support of ACS staff in this grant funding cycle. Our campus community welcomed Jennifer Dugan, ACS Director of Faculty Programs, and Anita Davis, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, who visited with students, faculty, and administrators in order to learn about the areas in which ACS support might foster the achievement of shared outcomes. Subsequently, our faculty coordinated internally and with partner institutions to propose ideas in the pre-proposal stage that support our vision the BSC vision that no student should experience diminished outcomes due to race/ethnicity, SES, family background, or prior academic experience. The spirit of engagement affirms my frequent assertion that our relationship with ACS, and its grant program in particular, will prove an impactful investment in the delivery of education and the higher education landscape.
Faculty and staff are the designers and architects of our proposals. In general, sponsored programs serves as a conduit for external and sponsor relations, especially early on in the process. Our PIs’ association with ACS and colleagues at ACS institutions largely made this happen organically, without much intervention. We aided faculty in coordinating and seeking the support of the administrations internally and among our partner institutions. Sponsored programs served as a liaison to our administration in order to garner coordinated institutional backing, allowing time for internal review and deadlines. As such, we worked with the PIs and Provost on content and programming and took a more central role in reviewing the proposals from an institutional fiscal and contractual perspective. We will continue the process in similar fashion as we move forward with final proposals. Most faculty who developed pre-proposals found our financial planning, budgeting, and administrative oversight coordination a valuable asset, allowing them time to focus on theme, quality content and programming. — A.J. Brigati

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ACS support for R1 partnerships

–Jennifer Dugan, Suzanne, Keen, and Paul Youngman
Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation enables ACS to support robust partnerships between our campuses and research universities in the South. We solicited ideas from our campuses that held the most promise in creating sustained relationships and mutual benefit. That process resulted in ACS support for diverse projects, including:

• Birmingham-Southern College and University of Alabama at Birmingham (Enriching the Latin American Studies Programs)
• University of Richmond and George Mason University (Strategies for Digital History Mapping in K-12 Classrooms)
• Furman and Clemson Universities (Copyright in Higher Education Elements Repository)
• Rollins College and the University of Central Florida (Community Engagement and Digital Humanities)

Another project, one between Washington and Lee University and the University of Virginia, involves robust planning and collaboration in Digital Humanities. This partnership is featured below. –Jennifer Dugan

W&L and UVA’s Scholars’ Lab in Digital Humanities

The relationship between Washington and Lee’s Digital Humanities (DH) Working Group and the University of Virginia’s Scholars’ Lab (SLAB) began with a timely 2013 ACS R-1 grant to foster collaboration between ACS Colleges and research universities. W&L’s project with SLAB focused on DH pedagogy. We have accomplished many things through three rounds of funding and laid a solid foundation for ongoing work, including with students. Students in the W&L DH 101: Introduction to Digital Humanities, for example, took a daylong field trip to SLAB where they participated in a project design jam with SLAB staff, fellows, and alumni. Moreover, four SLAB teaching fellows came to W&L to teach three days of the DH 101: Introduction to Digital Humanities course. They taught project management, web design, photogrammetry, and topic modeling. Through our partnership, we also developed and hosted a workshop for UVA graduate students to learn pedagogical approaches, tips, and tricks from W&L faculty to apply to their teaching at UVA.

The enthusiastic responses from both the graduate students and faculty providing the assistance, as well as the undergraduates receiving it, affirmed that these were successful endeavors. This kind of mutually beneficial programming characterizes our relationship. Beyond direct student programming, we have designed targeted training for faculty, dozens of whom now incorporate DH pedagogy into their courses (supplementing the three regular offerings. We have had faculty workshops on GIS, DH in the liberal arts, and DH in the classroom, among others. Moreover, our Digital Humanities Committee and the leadership and staff of SLAB hold frequent meetings to keep the relationship growing.

In 2017, the SLAB-W&L DH relationship is sound and valued by both institutions. W&L continues to be ably led by Professors Sara Sprenkle (Computer Science) and Paul Youngman (German Studies), as well as Associate Head Librarian Jeff Barry. The SLAB leadership is stable after two years of turnover. The Faculty Director is Professor Allison Booth, and the new Managing Director is Amanda Visconti. Brandon Walsh, the former Mellon DH postdoc at W&L, is now the Head of Graduate Programs at SLAB. These two teams plan to begin 2018 with a workshop designed to establish a DH network in the Middle Atlantic States modeled on the W&L/SLAB relationship. Their goal is to seek further funding from the Mellon Foundation to assist in the establishment of an expanded robust network dedicated to transforming graduate education and undergraduate teaching in the humanities. –Suzanne Keen, Dean, Washington and Lee) and Paul Youngman, Professor of German, Washington and Lee

 

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Instructional Software for Liberal Learning Outcomes

–Jennifer Dugan, Dr. Danielle Dickens, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Spelman College and Dr. Fred Smith, Professor of Economics, Davidson College
ACS has an ongoing interest in learning-based pedagogy. Since 2012, we have maintained a digital library of tutorials, produced by ACS faculty and staff, that cover a wide array of teaching and learning tools. We took it a step further during the summer/fall 2017. Currently, five ACS faculty are working with our instructional technology consultant to identify, learn, and use software that will help them meet course learning outcomes. Tutorials on the five selected software tools can be found at www.colleges.org/oar. By January 2018, they will be accompanied by short videos, produced by participating faculty, that discuss their experiences and assessment outcomes. Below, two participating faculty discuss their engagement with the project thus far. ACS encourages pedagogical experimentation, and we believe this project will point out new areas of future funding–Jennifer Dugan.

Ted-Ed as a Teaching Tool

It’s been very rewarding and a pleasure to participate in the ACS grant project providing faculty with space and assistance to integrate technological tools into the classroom at a low/no cost to students and faculty. I look for innovative ways to teach with an emphasis on addressing the diverse needs of all of my students, one being the integration of technology into the curriculum. The technology tool that I chose with the ACS grant project was Ted-Ed, which is a platform for professors to create their own interactive lessons on any topic around a Ted Talk, any you-tube video, or through a personal video as the basis for the lesson. A Ted-Ed lesson contains the video, “think” multiple choice or short answer questions on the video, additional resources on the topic, and a discussion board. During the fall 2017 semester, I integrated Ted-Ed into my Psychology of Women and Psychology of Racism courses at Spelman College.
For example, in my Psychology of Women’s course, during the module on women at work, students watched a Ted Talk titled “It’s about time to value young women of color in leadership” and engaged in discussion on ways in which employers can improve the workplace for individuals from underrepresented groups. The expected outcome is that the use of Ted-Ed will enhance students’ personal and social responsibility, including intercultural knowledge and competence, ethical reasoning and action, and foundations and skills for life-long learning, by applying a concept/theory from the course reading. One of the important lessons that I took away from this involvement is how simple it is to incorporate more technology into the classroom to enhance students’ learning. Participating in the ACS grant project introduced me to an accessible technological tool that I plan to use in future courses. –Danielle Dickens

Explain Everything in Economics Courses

This semester, I’m using Explain Everything to create instructional videos for two of my classes: Economics 101 – Introductory Economics and Economics 202 – Intermediate Microeconomics. In particular, I’m using the videos to help students work through problems that they will have to then solve on problem sets I have written and made available to the class on the course Moodle page. The problem sets are designed to help students prepare for the quiz or exam that they are required to complete each week.

I started my work with my Intermediate Microeconomics course. Over the first few weeks of the semester I created six videos – an introductory video and five instructional videos – to help students work through problems that have, historically, been tough for them. My expected (hoped for) outcome is that students will show improved performance on quizzes and tests that contain questions covering this material. An already accomplished result: I’ve been able to devote more class time to policy questions and real world applications of the material, since I don’t have to devote as much time in class to go over questions about math.

In my Introductory Economics course I’ll be creating Explain Everything videos to help me with the second half of the course. The videos for the macro section of the course will emphasize key features of core macroeconomics models as well as highlight important differences between the models that students are asked to learn. I hope that students will demonstrate mastery of material that, historically, they’ve found very challenging, and I also hope that it will give me more time to talk about real world, real time macroeconomic policy.

Finally, it is my hope that my Explain Everything videos will fit into Davidson’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP seeks to improve recruitment, performance, and retention of underrepresented student groups who take introductory and intermediate level courses in the STEM fields and economics. My efforts for the QEP have centered on breaking down barriers (real or perceived) to getting help. While I’ve taken steps to ensure that my office is a welcoming space, my hope is that these videos will provide students with another resource that they may use on their own time and at their own pace – thus eliminating a student’s worry about asking a “dumb question.” –Fred Smith

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The value of collaborative planning

–Jennifer Dugan

Drawing on funding from our Robert W. Woodruff Foundation grant, ACS offered support over the summer and fall for the planning of final grant proposals. In the end, 15 project leads each requested and received $2,000 planning grants. The ability to pull their teams together and shape their collaborative projects turned out to be exceptionally useful in solidifying ideas and strengthening partnerships. We are grateful for the contributions below by two project leads – Kate Hayden from Birmingham-Southern and Jordan Troisi from Sewanee – who echo this enthusiasm about ACS planning grant support.

Topic: Activating Potentials in Early Chemistry Education

Kate Hayden (BSC), Scott Dorman (BSC), Darlene Loprete (Rhodes) and Dhammika Muesse (Rhodes)
We want to create and implement a shared supplemental instructional video series for first year chemistry courses that will serve to reinforce the material and problem solving strategies and, by incorporating short vignettes by professional chemists, thereby providing models of diversity in the field of chemistry. Fortunately, this summer we were awarded a planning grant from the ACS that allowed us to meet face to face for the first time as we continued developing our proposal. Additionally, the grant gave us an opportunity to produce a prototype video that has been helpful in recruiting the collaborators we will need to make this project successful. (If you would like to see our demonstration video, please click here.)

Topic: Just Food: Race, Class, and Gender in the U.S. South
Ashanté Reese (Spelman) and Kimberly Kasper (Rhodes)
Kimberly and I have been thinking about collaborating on projects since we met in 2014. When the most recent call for ACS grants came around, we were ready to make good on at least one of the ideas we’ve thrown around over the years: a collaborative course that we will teach across our two institutions. Because the course will be built around food systems in the U.S. south, Atlanta and Memphis are perfect cities to examine both inequalities and opportunities in food production, access, and consumption. Even though we had a great working relationship already, the planning grant allowed us the opportunity to meet face-to-face as we talked through the major themes for the course. With the planning grant, we decided to visit each other’s city to meet growers and farmers. This was an excellent opportunity, because not only did we each get to show off some work in our respective cities, but it also spurred conversations about the similarities and differences in urban access and agriculture across the south.

Topic: Learning Disabilities and Inclusive Pedagogy

Jordan D. Troisi and Betsy Sandlin (Sewanee), Angie Smith and W. David Miller (BSC), and Sarah Lashley and Joel Klepac (Centre)

Our team of six wants to make progress on the climate and pedagogy surrounding learning disabilities. Yet, when we started devising ideas for our ACS grant, we had lots of perspectives and ideas but no way to unify them around a central project. Our ACS planning grant provided us with the funds we needed to solve that dilemma. We used the funds to pay for travel to our central campus, provide lodging for a night so we could focus on our work during a full day, and cover meals while we were working. Instead of firing off emails one at a time from our offices, we were able to truly work together. It paid off. We talked about the issues present on our campus, we developed major themes from our conversations, and established ideas on how we could address those themes. We drew on marker boards, all over them, and took photos of them so we wouldn’t forget the big ideas we discussed. We developed a thorough set of goals for the project and our initial plans to assess those goals. We did exactly what you want a grant team to do: we figured out why our project was worth doing and how we would go about doing it.

When visiting our campuses, ACS staff members learn about the importance of face-to-face interactions between colleagues across campuses and disciplines. We hope (and believe) that the planning grants were a step in the right direction.

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New Diversity and Inclusion Section

–Anita Davis, Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Anita DavisBeginning with this edition, the ACS Palladian will focus to a greater extent on diversity and inclusion topics. In addition to providing general updates about my work across our campuses, the hope is that this space will be a place where faculty and staff can share important news on their campuses related to diversity and inclusion initiatives and achievements. Ultimately, I hope the addition of this new section will generate ideas for possible collaborations focused on inclusive excellence.
Please consider submitting a story for our next issue of the Palladian to be published in early 2018. Submissions are due by April 30, 2018.

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Update from ACS Director of Diversity and Inclusion

–Anita Davis

Over the past six months, I have had the exciting challenge of creating and implementing professional development workshops for over 300 faculty and staff on six of our campuses. As you can see below, the majority of the 12 workshops that I have offered have focused on inclusive pedagogy, but campuses have requested various other topics.

Please contact me at adavis@colleges.org or 404-636-9533 (Ext. 15) if you would like to discuss a potential 2018 workshop for your campus.
In addition to the workshops, I am also responding to the request from diversity and inclusion liaisons to have more opportunities to come together for collaboration, sharing of best practices, and support. To this end, diversity and inclusion liaisons had their first conference call of 2017 on September 13 and, going forward, they will have regular calls twice per semester. The second call for this semester is scheduled for November 15 at 3:00pm EST.
Additionally, on October 25-27, 2017, ACS is hosting a meeting with the diversity and inclusion liaisons at our office in Atlanta. The goal of this meeting is to obtain input that will enable ACS to better support our campuses in their efforts to build a stronger infrastructure in the areas of diversity and inclusion. A major focus will be to produce a clearer articulation and prioritization of our collective goals. This process will be critical to informing areas of need as ACS begins to consider pursuing new grant opportunities.

 

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First Days of Class: Who We Are, Why We Are Here

–Dr. Paul Thomas, Professor of Education, Furman University

[The following article first appeared on Paul Thomas’ blog, Radical Eyes for Equity]

At least the first half of my career as a high school English teacher for 18 years was spent learning to be the sort of teacher I wanted to be. I often feel I should apologize to those early-career students, many of whom remain kind and even praising.
Along that journey, I came to realize that the first days of any class or course must be a clear and inviting message to my students about who we are and why we are here.
A watershed moment for me was somewhat an accident. My administration ended the long and tedious tradition of spending the first day or two issuing textbooks by having all students’ texts placed in their locker before they began the year.
With that freedom, I stopped the equally tedious roll call and dedicated myself to conducting class on that very first day in a way that told students what the class/course was going to be about.
As I start my 34th year as a teacher, now a professor teaching two first-year writing seminars as well as a couple education courses, I also dedicate the first days of class to practicing what I preach: incorporating one or two different strategies or changes each new course (what I call taking baby steps since no teacher should feel compelled to overhaul entirely their teaching when they feel the need to change).
Here I want examine some first-days texts and activities, not as prescriptions but as models for how any teacher may take this same larger concept of how those first days establish who you are, who your students are, and why you all are on this class journey.
First, some of my new commitments are grounded in being more intentional about inclusive pedagogy, much of which will draw on the guidance of Dr. Anita Davis, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Associated Colleges of the South, who is helping facilitate a year-long seminar for a group of faculty at my university this academic year.
These new commitments allow me to incorporate existing activities and texts in order to improve the inclusive environment of my classes as well as establishing the disciplinary grounding of the courses I teach.
Regardless of the course, I use several of these activities on the first days, but I also will include a writing-specific opening day’s activity toward the end.
A central message for my students in the first days is that we will be bound to texts, important texts, and then we will also be using those texts for our own discussions and to write. The key texts I currently use for the first days include the following, all of which also model for my students that we are going to explore diverse voices and writers in order to challenge and interrogate our own ideas and assumptions:

  • Two chapters from Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street: “My Name” and “A House of My Own”
  • A poem from Barbara Kingsolver’s Another America: “Naming Myself”
  • Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B”

Who We Are
Anita Davis opened her first seminar by explaining that she includes full name citations on her PowerPoint slides, even though most citation styles require last names only and APA hides first and middle names in initials. Davis stressed that names matter, especially if we are seeking to be inclusive.
Over the course of the seminar we also examined that roll calls can be intrusive and even stressful for students who are struggling with gender identification, establishing on that first day a hostile environment counter to our efforts of inclusion.
Part of our goal to be inclusive, we must all be better equipped when our students must name and identify themselves—issues about gender identity and pronoun preferences.
“My Name” (Cisneros) and “Naming Myself” (Kingsolver) are powerful texts for helping students think about how to introduce themselves in the context of a new learning community. I read these short texts aloud to emphasize there will be a common activity in my classes, read alouds.
Then we discuss how the speakers in the novel chapter and the poem emphasize the importance of names and of being named; both texts ask readers to consider sex/gender and race.
As well, “My Name” includes a recognition of how children/young people come to understand themselves in their names while “Naming Myself” challenges social norms of women being erased through re-naming during marriage.
These texts and activities establish that our names matter, but that naming ourselves is more complicated than some students have considered. I also want students to know that I appreciate texts, the read alouds, but that texts are not simply fodder for the sort of narrow analysis they have done in their English classes.
Finally, we introduce ourselves, first in small groups and then as a full class. This semester, I will invite students to talk about their names, and their pronoun preferences if and when this is important to them. I will also stress that our learning community must be a place where we honor confidentiality; we are free to share outside of class the topics we explore, but we should avoid naming our classmates in ways outside of class that breaks confidentiality, that fails to honor each person’s right to speak for themselves.
On the first day, we have avoided the drudgery of calling roll—and engaged in the sort of class dynamic that characterizes my classes throughout the semester. But I now will also establish an environment that honors inclusion more intentionally than I have in the past.
Why We Are Here
While the naming texts and activities are entry points for introductions and creating an inclusive learning environment, that first day also begins a journey into disciplinary expectations—why we are here.
Another first day’s activity I use is based on Hughes’s “Theme for English B,” but I will now include an activity, “Save the Last Word,” Davis used in our seminar.
“Theme for English B” lends itself well to any class because it investigates the power relationship between teachers and students; like the Cisneros and Kingsolver texts, Hughes also confronts the role of race in that power dynamic.
When I have used Hughes’s poem in the past, I have struggled with students shifting immediately into the literary analysis mode, eager to analyze the poem’s structure and technique to the exclusion of engaging with what the poem’s speaker is saying about power as that intersects teaching/learning, race, and age.
“Save the Last Word” is a wonderful strategy for keeping students focused on what a texts says (not the how of literary analysis) and encourages student voice in the context of that text.
My slight adaptation of the activity includes the following: (1) my read aloud of the poem, (2) asking students to read the poem again silently to themselves, (3) placing students in small groups (preferably of 3), (4) having students copy what they consider a key or challenging stanza on the front of an index card, (5) having students reflect on that stanza in writing on the back of that card, (6) after all students have done this each student shares out to the small group the key stanza so that the other two can respond to that stanza first, and finally (7) each person shares their reflection last for that stanza.
Through a whole-class discussion of “Theme for English B” following the “Last Word” activity, I will share with students why we are here: to take words, each other, and ideas seriously and carefully in the pursuit of our own growth through disciplinary moves as well as our developing literacy.
The course, like the activities around Hughes’s poem, will be both individual and collaborative as well as interrogating and investigating key ideas and concepts.
Why We Are Here (Writing Specific)
Finally, I want to touch on a first writing activity I use in order to highlight how to use the first days to stress the narrow goals of any course or class.
The first writing activity I do with students involves Cisneros’s “A House of My Own”:

  • I read the passage aloud.
  • Students are instructed to write their own versions of the passage, changing “house” to an object of their choice and then mimicking the passage exactly except for the content. I refuse to give more directions and urge students to trust themselves and complete a draft.
  • After most of the students have a full first draft, I ask for volunteers to share their versions aloud. During the sharing I ask the others to compare their drafts to the one being shared.
  • Next I ask other students to share or discuss how their version does something different in terms of mimicking Cisneros exactly.
  • Always students begin to re-think their mimicking as well as how carefully they read any text for the how (technique) and the what (content).
    Finally, I invite students to revise their versions and send them to me by email for the next class meeting.

This activity stresses the importance of completing a full first draft (especially as a discovery draft not as a process to fulfill a set thesis), the value of peer conferencing and sharing drafts, and the necessity of revising all writing with purpose.
We also begin to look at the craft of language—sentence formation (the entire passage is a series of fragments), rhetorical and literacy techniques, vivid and specific details, grammatical and syntactic awareness.
One unexpected but consistent consequence of this activity is that students often email their revision to me and call the text a poem—even though Cisneros’s mentor text is a prose fiction passage from a novel.
This means the following class allows me to begin a conversation about genre awareness, how we determine the form any text takes (poetry v. prose, fiction v. non-fiction, etc.).
In short, an opening activity models why we are here and how we are going to proceed.
Throughout my career, I have rejected traditional views of the first days of any class or course needing to be about establishing teacher authority (don’t smile until Christmas) and classroom rules or management.
Instead, I am committed to making the first days of class about who we are and why we are here while remaining true to my larger critical philosophical and ethical commitments as an educator and a human.

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Council Of Deans Addresses Free Speech

–Owen Williams
The chief academic officers from around ACS meet in person every fall and spring, rotating to different member colleges. This past September 22-23, the Council met at Furman University, where their key agenda item was freedom of speech, specifically, how to reconcile our traditional commitment to free speech with our growing ambition for inclusive campus cultures.
As is well known, freedom of speech is vital for intellectual development; at the same time, it is a legal concept that has been fiercely contested for generations at every level of the American judicial system. As such, ACS arranged for legal counsel to provide essential background information and to help navigate our discussion through the vast web of issues touching this topic.
The Council considered many relevant questions: How does federal funding define the boundaries of free speech? Must colleges tolerate all forms of “hate speech”? How might we develop and disseminate policies that reduce future tensions caused by offensive speech? How can colleges protect themselves when highly contentious speakers visit campus?
This issue is one that has garnered significant attention all around the country, and ACS colleges must (and, on almost all our campuses, are) making every effort to address problems generated by free speech, before they arise.

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ACS Launches Legal Services

The Associated Colleges of the South and the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC have reached an agreement by which ACS members may collaboratively obtain sophisticated higher education legal services at competitive rates. By taking advantage of the members’ collective purchasing power, ACS member institutions will be able to participate in compliance seminars, receive regular newsletters on higher education legal issues, and access emergency legal services, in addition to getting project-specific services as needed.
Many ACS members are already participating, but to initiate the relationship between your institution and Steptoe, the firm will provide an engagement letter that reflects your institution’s specific needs. Please contact ACS president Owen Williams if you are interested in joining or getting more information.
We believe the plan offers ACS members an opportunity to obtain a substantial benefit as a consequence of their collaboration.

Summary of the Plan

The overall goal is to provide sophisticated, higher education-oriented legal services at costs materially below market levels in recognition of the combined buying power of ACS members. Services are divided into an Educational Component, that is, training and education programs designed to avoid problems, and a customized or project-specific component, based on legal issues that may arise.

The educational component  includes quarterly Hot Topics training sessions in Atlanta or via webinar. Content will be determined with input from participants but it will generally consist of issues such as Title IX, FERPA, the Clery Act, the ADA and other compliance issues, and hot topics such as unionization efforts on campus or the impact of the new administration in Washington. Members receive monthly Higher Ed Legal Updates via email. These can be sent to multiple recipients on each campus. Participants also receive 24/7/365 Emergency Management & Title IX Assistance – Up to 4 hours per month of advice and counsel to address urgent situations on campus.

The project-specific component is that part of the plan where members have access to Steptoe Johnson attorneys on an as-needed basis. The plan offers fee structures designed to provide cost-effective solutions when problems specific to the member’s institution arise

Members receive either a  half- or a full-day of attorney J.H. Newberry’s time each month at an effective discount of 27.5% or 32.5% off standard rate. Additional time is provided on as-needed basis with discount of 26.3% or 28.8%, depending on the type of agreement the member has chosen.

The Plan is cancellable at any time, but a one year, good faith commitment is requested, after which the member’s needs would be reassessed.

We also offer an Alternative Fee Structure based on an ACS Standard Discount. Educational Component Participants are entitled to the services of J.H. Newberry at a 20% discount from the standard hourly rate. Services by others, if needed, are provided at a 10% discount.

Members may opt out of the educational component but still get discounted access to Steptoe Johnson’s J.H. Newberry at a 15% discount from the standard hourly rate. Services by others with the firm, if needed, are provided at a 5% discount.

The first quarterly Hot Topics Training Session was held in September, 2017 and an archived video of it is available free below:

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Latin American Studies Symposium, April 6, 2018

Rollins College will host the 2018 Latin American Studies Symposium at Winter Park Florida. The event was previously held at Birmingham-Southern. This symposium, featuring undergraduate research, will take place Friday, April 6th, 2018. More information about the event is at the symposium website.

 

ACS Enrollment Officers Present at Super Conference

–Owen Williams
On April 25, three ACS enrollment officers (Christine Bowman, Southwestern; Stephanie Dupaul, Richmond; and Robert Alexander, Millsaps) and ACS president Owen Williams presented to the Texas, Southern, and Rocky Mountain Associations for College Admissions Counseling, in San Antonio, Texas. Several other ACS enrollment officers were in the audience at this important “super conference,” where three critically significant organizations met at one time. Our team spoke to a “standing room only” crowd; in fact, ACS was assigned a room that accommodated an audience of one hundred, though conference sponsors were surprised to turn away twice that number.

The presentation, entitled “A Grapefruit or a Plum,” tried to drive home the advantages of small private colleges over larger public institutions. It was no small coup that ACS got this opportunity to showcase all sixteen ACS member colleges and the advantages of liberal arts colleges. A copy of the presentation is available for download (powerpoint).

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