In last year’s tenure portfolio, I listed the following short- and medium-term goals for my service, which I’m pleased to say have each been accomplished in the intervening year:
- Host Prism movie night with Student Activities Showed Love, Simon in scc boardrooms on Valentine’s Day with approx. 25 students attending
- Host Prism guest speaker Welcomed local author David Berger to campus, who shared his experience publishing books with lgbtq+ characters
- Attend fcpc in March Brought six students to conference, introducing student-leaders to state-wide community of gsas
- Join more committees related to technology, pedagogy, and hiring Reprised my appointment to the University Senate Technology Advisory Committee, joined a wac tlc, and joined the institution-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee
Details of these recent accomplishments can be found later in this section, after a review of my service history here at Saint Leo.
In the letters of recommendation from Marissa McLargin, Lis Aiken, and Barbara Caldwell, my ability to find diplomatic common ground and reach out to institutions to find best practices received prominent attention. Those two strengths have driven my institutional service more than anything else, helping me find connections between differing perspectives and build bridges between departments. My department-level committee work—notably including forming and leading a Composition Committee to host conversations about the nature and future of our Academic Writing courses across a five-year span—has faced significant hurdles of disagreeing faculty, making progress and consensus-building formidable challenges. Those challenges, however, also make the small victories of incremental progress more rewarding than they normally would be. Just this semester, my extensive work on the composition-curriculum revision has paid off, and my proposal received approval from my department and the ueac. My ability to mediate disagreements has made me a valuable member of contentious committees over the years, from Composition to time on the English apr committee, to an exhaustive (and exhausting!) search committee for the Language Studies & the Arts department chair.
In addition to my consistent role as a mediator, I have earned a reputation within my department for being “the tech guy,” providing Skype calls for remote meetings and video recording/distribution services for teaching demonstrations of potential hires. My facility with technology has simplified the process of communication throughout the department. That comfort with technology also makes me a good fit for the University Senate Technology Committee, an assignment I have happily taken on a second time this year.
Previously, I also involved myself with the Content Initiative Workgroup, led by Steve Rheinschmidt and tasked with finding ways to implement Open Educational Resources (oers) in our classes. My experience there made me a good fit for the newly created oer committee, convened by Heather Parker. Additionally, I participated in the ePortfolio committee, led by Trish Parrish, that ultimately decided from the available options that Chalk and Wire best met the institution’s immediate need for a portfolio-management system. That committee in particular taught me a lesson—specifically, that what the school operationally needs at a given time might be fundamentally opposed to what I believe is best for students. On a more local level, I contributed to initial stages of the English apr conversation, helping define the needs and expectations of each of the three specializations in the English B.A. program. And near the start of my time at Saint Leo, I was recruited onto the qep Faculty Fellows and served a one-year term on that team, which shared readings and discussions aimed at better implementing a specific model of critical thinking in classes across the university. Each of these committee appointments has enhanced my perspective of how Saint Leo serves its students—and how we can continue to improve in that regard.
On the subject of benefit to the university, my Composition Committee, which has met in various forms for the past five years, has served to engage the wider Saint Leo community in conversations about what we need (and can reasonably expect) from our Academic Writing courses. From guiding group readings of relevant literature to gathering committee research on the programs of comparative and aspirational model institutions, to informal chats with representatives from a variety of departments and locations across the institution, my time with this committee has helped build a shared understanding of what is possible and practical in a revised composition curriculum. This task has on several occasions proved challenging due to its enormous scope and broad impact, combined with my tenuous position as the only dedicated rhetoric/composition faculty member in the department—a position that has led to extended and heated controversy with established components of our English program. However, the challenges presented by this project helped shape my curriculum designs into a version that gained the support of the full department in mid-September 2019, earned enthusiastic support from the ueac committee members in late September, and is expected to obtain official, voted ueac approval in late October and Curriculum Committee approval in December 2019. This project, now on its fourth iteration after five years of work, is one I look forward to seeing through to its implementation and future development. My work leading this committee is far from complete; we will now shift our attention to supporting our teaching faculty and bringing the benefits of our new approach to the consciousness of the full institution.
To be sure, my service to the university does not end with committee work. I have also contributed to John David Harding’s “Human Library” project, the January 2019 Faculty Development Day, various cab student trips, and Student Activities’ 2018 Greek Summit, where I presented a full-house session on social media use to boost marginalized voices. Each of these modest projects provides an additional opportunity for me to bring my passions and experience to the students of our institution, sharing my expertise outside the confines of a classroom.
I would argue, however, that the most important service I have provided to Saint Leo is perhaps the most unassuming—the creation of Prism, our gay-straight alliance. While this example of my service at first glance benefits a limited number of students, the impact of having such an organization visible at our institution enacts the Benedictine value of hospitality by showing students in the lgbtq+ community that they are welcome as they are at our institution. The process of forming this club started because a prospective student emailed me before joining our school to ensure our campus was accepting of the lgbtq+ community. I asked a similar question of a colleague before accepting my job offer to work here. That student and I know first-hand how important it can be to openly acknowledge and welcome members of a marginalized community, and we know that can be a contentious matter for religious institutions. Working through countless meetings, dozens of approvals, and numerous pitches and proposals (all referenced in Karen Hannel’s letter of recommendation on page (??)), Prism gained sab and sgu recognition. In Spring 2019, Prism received the sgu Outstanding Student Organization award for promoting “a more inclusive, supportive, and hospitable campus to the members of the lgbtq+ community and their allies. Furthermore, I received the sgu Outstanding Club Advisor award as “a shining example of commitment, dedication, and perseverance.”