New UTSA Faculty Center takes professional development to next level

Faculty Center
Faculty Center

UTSA Faculty Center, John Peace Library

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(March 3, 2014) -- Is there a template for a class syllabus? When are promotion and tenure decisions effective? How can I get someone to take a video of my class or special event? How can I use technology to enhance my class lessons? How do I find funding to support my research? In the past, a professor would have had to contact five different offices to find answers to these five questions. Today, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has streamlined the process by launching the Faculty Center, a clearinghouse for all faculty-related information and services.

Located on the fourth floor of the John Peace Library on the UTSA Main Campus, the Faculty Center allows faculty to gather both formally and informally to have dialogue, collaborate across disciplines, attend professional development workshops, meet one-on-one with a librarian, and access a wealth of university resources to support their teaching and research activities.

The Faculty Center website offers a comprehensive online database of faculty-related services, resources, news and events. Using the Faculty Knowledgebase search engine, faculty can quickly and easily find answers to nearly any question. For enhanced professional development, a slate of faculty development workshops are offered at both the Main and Downtown campuses.

The UTSA Faculty Center is a collaborative effort of the UTSA Libraries, UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research and the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Support. The initial concept for the center sprung from conversations about developing a strong faculty culture at UTSA, an essential growth step for the university, which will celebrate its 45th anniversary in June 2014.

"The Faculty Center demonstrates that collaboration and cooperation is a useful and powerful tool," said Jesse Zapata, vice provost for UTSA Downtown and academic and faculty support. "It also shows our commitment to supporting our faculty. This is a great step forward for UTSA."

A sophisticated space with furniture and d├ęcor inspired by a mid-century modern design aesthetic, the 4,500-square-foot Faculty Center includes several small meeting rooms that seat six to 12 people, a conference room that seats up to 20 and a collaborative digital studio complete with the latest teaching technology. Each room includes advanced digital equipment to facilitate group work and interaction. It also includes a large casual seating area where faculty can have dialogue informally with one another or get work done away from the office.

Adjacent to the Faculty Center, the Assembly Room seats up to 120 and is a perfect space for lectures, presentations, seminars and other academic events.

"There is an abundance of evidence that indicates that learning and innovation occur when people connect, share physical spaces and exchange ideas," said Krisellen Maloney, dean of UTSA Libraries. "With the Faculty Center, UTSA has created a space that will enable and empower faculty to move forward in an ever-changing information environment."

The UTSA Libraries Faculty Services unit offers teaching/learning services through the Faculty Center that include assignment consultations, classroom observations and quick course diagnoses, helping UTSA faculty to enhance their teaching skills and implement innovative classroom engagement techniques.

UTSA is one of eight emerging research universities in the state with the potential to become Tier One. By focusing on academic excellence, faculty- and student-led research, and extending its reach internationally, UTSA is progressing toward Tier One status.

"The Faculty Center is an incredible opportunity for the Office for Research to access faculty in a new and engaging manner," said Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA assistant vice president for research support. "Being that the Faculty Center will be a meeting place that allows for cross-college networking, we also believe UTSA will see an increase in interdisciplinary research, which is critical to growing the research portfolio of UTSA and our advancement toward Tier One."

Through the Faculty Center at UTSA, the Office for Research Support will offer a comprehensive program for faculty in the area of research skills development. Each semester, workshops and seminars will be offered in areas ranging from proposal development and grantsmanship to research compliance and ethics. Additionally, the Office for Research Support will utilize the Faculty Center as a means to deliver messaging on funding opportunities, research conferences and other research-based information.

The Faculty Center was designed by James Hadden of The Bommarito Group, engineered by HMG & Associates and constructed by Journeyman Construction Inc.

The first dedicated space for faculty in university history, UTSA officials expect the Faculty Center, both the physical space and its accompanying online services, will play an integral role in faculty success.

>> For more information, visit the UTSA Faculty Center website.