Annual Report, August 2013

Our mission is to advance the art and science of teaching and learning.

Strategic Plan

In July 2013, CAT staff participated in a strategic planning retreat, substantially revising our strategic plan to better address the current needs of the University and build on the strengths and expertise of staff members. This plan will direct the work of CAT for the next three years. CAT will engage a faculty committee in our next strategic planning process in Fall 2016.

  • Download and read the CAT Strategic Plan for 2013-2016 [PDF]

Book Club

Our sixth annual Fall Faculty Book Club centered on What the Best College Students Do (2012) by Ken Bain. Elizabeth Yost Hammer led the discussions and ten faculty participated.

What the Best College Students Do


In the 2012-2013 academic year, CAT sponsored 18 events which attracted 351 (non-unique) attendees. Our average attendance rose from 12.5 last year to 18.5 this year.

At New Faculty Orientation in August we welcomed 12 new faculty members to Xavier University. Our Faculty-in-Residence, Dr. Renee Akbar (Education) hosted monthly brown bags for this group, discussing topics such as teaching at an HBCU, getting grants, and creating effective assignments; she also organized an updated mentoring system.

Our podcast series, Teaching, Learning & Everything Else, continued, with three new episodes interviewing Daniel Barbezat, Dave Yearwood and Bryan Saville. Many thanks to Alexios Moore who has completed his term as host. Elizabeth Hammer has resumed this role in the interim.

In March, we were delighted to host Dr. Cassandra Hoori Volpe (California Institute of Technology), a national recognized faculty developer who spoke about activating students' prior knowledge to enhance learning.

In February, in partnership with Xavier's campus-wide "Read Today Lead Tomorrow" initiative, we hosted Rev. William Thiele (The School for Contemplative Living), who introduced faculty to the ancient contemplative practice of lectio divina.

In September CAT co-sponsored Rising Tide, a conference on the future of New Orleans, which convened in Xavier's University Center.

Throughout the year we conducted workshops and seminars on such diverse topics as online teaching, creativity, web tools, mindfulness and service learning. Additionally, we continued to meet the needs of faculty on a by-request basis. For example, in the spring semester we planned and implemented the training for Freshman Seminar instructors, a workshop for faculty teaching online and hybrid courses, and a workshop on faculty burnout for pharmacy.

Staff Spotlight

Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer (Director, CAT) gave the Diane Halpern Invited Lecture at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association on the topic of Meta-studying: Teaching metacognitive strategies to enhance student success. Dr. Hammer also served as an external reviewer for the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Nebraska Kearny.

Bart at the HBCU Faculty Development Network Annual Conference

Mr. Bart Everson (Media Artist, CAT) attended the HBCU Faculty Development Network Annual Conference in Orlando and presented on "Club Culture: Fostering Dialog on Teaching and Learning Through Books." Mr. Everson also attended SITE 2013 and presented a poster on "(Mis)Understanding Wikis as a Tool for Online Teaching."

Ms. Janice Florent (Technology Coordinator, CAT) attended the 5th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning, the University Business Technology Conference and the annual Blackboard World Conference.

Finally, we welcome two new staff members to CAT who are starting this summer.

Dr. Tiera Coston Dr. Karen Nichols

Dr. Tiera Coston accepted our post-doc position as the Educational Improvement Specialist with a STEM emphasis. Dr. Karen Nichols will serve as our new Distance Education Coordinator.


Dr. Renee Akbar (Education) served as faculty in residence. She continued to work closely with new faculty in their transition to Xavier's culture of excellence in teaching, scholarship, service and collegiality. As the new faculty "personal trainer" she helped interpret their student evaluations, introduced them to offices around campus, conducted mid-course reviews and discussed ways they can improve their pedagogy.

Dr. Mark Gstohl (Associate Professor of Theology) continued his work as the Faculty in Residence for Service-Learning, serving as a resource for faculty incorporating the pedagogy of service-learning into the curriculum and promoting civic engagement through meaningful community participation.

Both Drs. Akbar and Gstohl reached the end of their terms this year. We thank them for their service to the Xavier community.

Sustaining the Dialog

Staff member Mr. Bart Everson secured grant funding from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. He invited all Xavier faculty to apply for support in developing a contemplative curriculum. Drs. Ross Louis (Communication), Kate Eskine (Psychology), and Lisa Schulte (Psychology) were accepted and will travel to Smith College in August to attend the Summer Session on Contemplative Pedagogy.


We continue to recognize the Mellon Foundation for generously funding our Faculty Communities of Teaching Scholars (FaCTS) initiative, now in its fifth year. For the 2013 cohort, 10 faculty from across campus and two from SUNO were selected based on projects related to the theme, Engaging Students in Online Courses. The 2013 Mellon FaCTS Fellows include:

  • Dr. Sara Al-Dahir, Pharmacy
  • Dr. Biruk Alemayehu, SUNO
  • Dr. Jose Bautista, Business
  • Dr. Diane Bordenave, SUNO
  • Dr. Amne Borghol, Pharmacy
  • Dr. Mark Gstohl, Theology
  • Dr. Krista Mincey, Public Health
  • Dr. Claire Norris, Public Health
  • Dr. Megan Osterbur, Political Science
  • Dr. Robin Runia, English
  • Dr. Steve Salm, History
  • Dr. Susan Spillman, Languages
FaCTS 2013

Our 2013 FaCTS Summer Seminar was held May 13-16 in our Mellon Seminar Room and our guest consultant was Dr. Dave Yearwood (University of North Dakota). We appreciate the VPAA's office for funding two additional FaCTS participants this year and feel that this speaks to the institution support CAT has.

Advisory Board

The CAT Advisory Board, composed of a member from each academic department, continued to serve in an advisory capacity to the CAT staff on an as-needed basis. For example, when we needed faculty perspectives on e-readers, we asked the Board. They also helped suggest ideas for future programming. The Board members are as follows:

  • Art: Mora Beauchamp-Byrd
  • Biology: Peter Barrett
  • Business: Joe Ricks
  • Chemistry: Terry Watt
  • Communications: Brenda Edgerton-Webster, Nancy Martino
  • Comp Science: Andrea Edwards
  • Education: Glenda Hembree
  • English: Olly Hennessey, Biljana Obradovic
  • History: Kelly Hamilton
  • Language: Elizabeth Rousselle
  • Math: Vlajko Kosic
  • Pharm (DCAS): Fatima Brakta
  • Pharm (DCAS): Kristi Rapp
  • Pharm (DBPS): Tom Wiese
  • Physics: Dean Richardson
  • Political Science: Darren Hanson
  • Psychology: Lisa Schulte
  • Sociology: Claire Norris
  • Theology: Jerry Farmer