MARION, Ind. – During the 2012 New Faculty Institute, held June 5-8, new faculty at Council for Christian Colleges & Universities institutions gained a leg up in settling into new academic responsibilities in the unique context of Christian higher education. The New Faculty Institute was a collaborative effort between CCCU leaders and Indiana Wesleyan University, the host institution.
The New Faculty Institute offered attendees practical insight for navigating challenges encountered by new faculty members. Some of the challenges addressed during the institute are particular to teaching at Christian universities where faculty are expected to know their disciplines in addition to how to integrate faith into their teaching, manage classroom behavior, nurture campus spiritual life, pursue scholarly activities, and be contributing members of the community of faith.
"I came away from the New Faculty Institute with a better developed philosophical and theological understanding of what it means to teach in a Christian college setting,” said Mark Nabholz, director of choral activities at Erskine College in Due West, S.C. “At the same time the presenters pushed our thinking on a theoretical level, they also helped us work through practical approaches to the dailiness of our classroom and interactions with our students. There were valuable discussions about the challenges today's students face and how we are positioned to make a difference in their lives. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet faculty and administrators from across the nation."
Muchun Yin, assistant professor of TESOL at Indiana Wesleyan University, noted, “During the Institute, it struck me like a thunderbolt that I’d been compartmentalizing in my classes, teaching my students discipline-related skills without connecting them to Christian character and who they are meant to be as God’s instruments in this world. The institute’s emphasize on Christian formation has encouraged me to be more mindful of that connection in my pedagogy.”
“One of the speakers pointed out that the one distinguishing characteristic of the Christian classroom must be that students ‘encounter God’ there. He spoke those words with such conviction that it has served to focus my thoughts as I prepare to teach this coming school year,” Yin added.
The plenary speaker for the institute was Carlos Campo, president of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. He addressed participants the first night of the institute. Facilitators included Darlene Bressler, vice president and dean for the College of Arts & Sciences at Indiana Wesleyan; Jonathan Case, professor of theology at Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y.; Kina Mallard, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.; and David Smith, director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"The New Faculty Institute exceeded my expectations,” said Kent Eilers, assistant professor of theology at Huntington University in Huntington, Ind. “The environment was one of rich interaction and collaboration around themes and issues that were entirely relevant for my vocation as a Christian educator. Specifically, the topic of Christian practices and their relationship to pedagogy was brought sharply into focus through the presenters; my teaching will be different because of it!"
“The New Faculty Institute provided me with solid practical advice for how to integrate my faith and teaching in a way that feels authentic and not preachy and enhances rather than taking away from my subject matter. It was truly transformational,” said Andrea Menz, assistant professor of German and linguistics and director of the interdisciplinary linguistics program at Carson-Newman College.
“The discussions with other new faculty were refreshing, and I felt relief as I realized new teachers often face similar challenges and can celebrate similar ‘wins.’ The sense of community and connection really encouraged me,” said Natalie Rasnick, assistant professor of communication arts at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. She added, “NFI helped me realize teachers often dwell on content but forget to focus on the process of learning. David Smith said it’s all about ‘content and process.’ That is, we should ask ourselves, ‘How do students learn?’ I was grateful to hear other professors acknowledge teaching as a process. It takes time to become an excellent teacher, but it is important to strive for excellence each and every day.”
About the CCCU: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 170 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 116 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 54 affiliate campuses from 18 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.