Raising the Standard of Faculty Excellence
By Danielle Parker 07
Oral Roberts University has always been known for its exceptional faculty and education, but this school year the university has decided to take it up a notch. The first floor of the Learning Resources Center is now home to this educational initiative -- the Center for Faculty Excellence.
Faculty, as well as administration, recognized that in order to continue to maintain a high standard of academics, more needed to be done to expand and foster that level of quality and collaboration. A faculty task force began brainstorming how to make that concept a reality, and the Center for Faculty Excellence was soon created. This past spring, the idea was approved by the Board of Trustees and preparations began to create a hub for faculty development.
"We needed to have a centralized place that supported faculty in their efforts to enrich themselves and develop," Dr. Even Culp, director of the Center for Faculty Excellence and communication arts and media professor, said. "In the past that work was done by lots of different areas. We help coordinate some of the university-wide efforts. "
Headed by Culp, along with a committee of department advisors, the Center for Faculty Excellence serves as a resource for faculty, whether they are new, adjunct, exploring promotion opportunities or preparing to go on sabbatical. Through Brown Bag Lunches, seminars and workshops and online resources, professors have the opportunity to cultivate their knowledge and expertise as educators.
"People in this day and age need to be competent professionals, not only in their area of content, but well-versed in methods, technology and generation changes," Culp said. "Faculty have always been working in those areas, they have just asked for additional assistance. And that is what the center will provide. As they express needs, we will look for the resources--the funding-- to help them achieve those goals."
ORU professors have observed that not only are the needs of their students changing, but each semester, the young adults in their classrooms are coming from ever more diverse backgrounds, lifestyles and mindsets -- a challenge many educators at other universities have also encountered.
"Every five years the people sitting in front of you have changed," Culp said. "The life experience of a graduate will not be the same as [that of] the incoming freshmen. The technology was different, the programs, the media, the experiences, the number of broken homes they came from, the world they lived in will be different."
How then do professors connect with the students? The center helps answer that question.
"Regardless of how they came to us, four years from now we want to turn out a whole person," Culp said. "So the center provides enrichment opportunities for faculty to gain greater understanding, [of] both who the student is and how to connect with that student."
The Center for Faculty Excellence is another component that adds to the university's overall excellence and enables it to produce whole-person graduates.
"Whether it is Christian worldview, best standards and practices or technology, we are trying to create synergy in order that the faculty be well informed, and as a result, what they do in the classroom is enriched," Culp said. "If we meet the needs of the faculty, then the faculty are better able to meet the needs of the students. And that is what this center is here for: so faculty can continue to do an excellent job in the classroom."