by: Cara Meixner
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a segment of President Jonathan Alger’s listening tour, during which time a colleague remarked on the “deep humility” of our faculty. The depth of inquiry, diversity of pedagogies, and expanse of outreach engaged in by our faculty are profound hallmarks of the JMU mission. Still, we don’t do well at “tooting our own horns” – as such, we aren’t always aware of what our colleagues across departments and colleges are doing.
One way that the Center for Faculty Innovation has sought to inhabit the gap, connecting faculty with and to each other, is to provide support for an array of cohort-based faculty learning communities: Madison Teaching Fellows, Madison Career Fellows, and Madison Research Fellows. Intentionally leaderless, these fellowships are small, intimate networks of faculty who work together for an academic year (or more) to focus resolutely on a teaching, research, or career development challenge. These communities have made an indelible imprint on the landscape of teaching, learning, and scholarship at JMU. Take, for instance, the Madison Teaching Fellows on Alcohol and Academic Culture. Not only did this dynamic team develop resources and institutes on curriculum infusion, but they’re also responsible for Here to Help, a program that orients faculty to the spectrum of campus resources available to students in crisis. This team of fellows has also shared that they have forged life-long friendships and enduring connections to the University.