CAT+FD: Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development

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Annual Report, May 2015

CAT XX 1994-2014 Sustainability

Our mission is the development of faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility.

Celebrating Twenty Years

Over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) marked its 20th anniversary. Since its inception in 1994, CAT has existed to fulfill its mission "to advance the art and science of teaching and learning" and has enjoyed broad faculty participation in its services and activities. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, CAT staff offered a series of special events, beginning with a Kick-Off Social Hour which was held on Thursday, September 4th, and only slightly upstaged by the Dr. Francis' retirement announcement earlier in the day. We also hosted a gala on February 3rd, at which we recognized many faculty who have served over the years, and announced our new plans and initiatives for the future.

CAT has been able to sustain its initiatives and offerings over two decades by evolving with the times to meet faculty needs. This year, CAT staff organized offerings around the theme of Sustainability — exploring issues related to sustainability in the curriculum as well as sustaining the whole faculty member across all areas of responsibility. As a symbol of this theme, with support from Academic Affairs, we installed a new water fountain and bottle-filling station on the fifth floor of the library; we distributed reusable CAT water bottles to all faculty, and we no longer utilize disposable water bottles for CAT events.

A New Mission

Throughout the year, CAT explored ways to expand its services (and ultimately its mission) in supporting the faculty member in all areas of responsibility — Teaching, Scholarship, and Service — utilizing a teacher-scholar model based on comprehensive faculty development. To this end, CAT put together a team with a representative from each Division to explore an expansion of its mission/values/programs (affectionately called the MVPs) that takes a holistic approach to developing the faculty member. The report from this group proposed some bold changes for CAT, which have been approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Our new mission statement reads as follows:

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching promotes our University's mission through the development of faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility.

Please visit for a complete articulation of CAT's new vision and values.

Book Club

In our eighth annual Fall Faculty Book Club, we read Earth in mind: on education, environment, and the human prospect (1994) by David Orr. Bart Everson led the discussions and ten faculty participated.

Earth in Mind


Our podcast series, Teaching, Learning & Everything Else, continued, with six new episodes interviewing Daniel Greenberg, Amy Koritz, Jeremy Tuman, Meghan Fay Zanhiser, and John Clark. Many thanks to Megan Osterbur who has completed her term as host.


In the 2014-2015 academic year, CAT sponsored 42 events which attracted 396 (non-unique) attendees. (Note that there is a slight overlap with the previous annual report because of a change in the defintion of the reporting cycle.) The average attendance was 9.4 per event. We offered a diverse slate of workshops on topics including mentoring, teaching with technology, developing a personal vision and many others. Throughout the year, CAT hosted a number of guest speakers who shared their expertise on a wide array of topics.

At New Faculty Orientation in August we welcomed 12 new faculty members to Xavier University. Our Faculty-in-Residence, Dr. Stassi DiMaggio (Chemistry) hosted monthly brown bags for this group, discussing topics such as teaching at an HBCU, getting grants, and creating effective assignments.

In September CAT co-sponsored Rising Tide 9, which convened in Xavier's University Center. This is the fourth year that CAT has sponsored this "conference on the future of New Orleans." Dr. Andre Perry gave a keynote address on issues of education reform.

Andre Perry

Our series of "Contemplative Practices in Diverse Traditions" continued with Laura Ates (NOLA Yoga Center), who introduced faculty to yoga. Another installment brought Dr. Bing Wei Athey for a session of T'ai Chi, co-sponsored with Xavier's Confucius Institute.

T'ai Chi at Xavier

As part of our continuing series, "Contemplation & Conversation," CAT sponsored a weekly series of meetings in the Meditation Room of the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel. These sessions are intended to support faculty well-being and open up a dialog about contemplative pedagogy.

Associate Director for Programming

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching is delighted to announce that Dr. Jason Todd (English) will serve as our new Associate Director for Programming. In this role, Dr. Todd will assist in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based CAT programming in support of our new mission to serve faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility. In addition to his grant administration experience, he has worked with CAT staff to plan, implement, and assess a variety of faculty development activities related to the QEP. Dr. Todd will begin his work with us this summer.

Staff Spotlight

In July, Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer (Director, CAT) presented a workshop on using technology in active learning at the annual meeting of Improving University Teaching in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Dr. Hammer continues to serve as Chief Reader for AP Psychology and in this capacity she presented at this summer's Advanced Placement Annual Conference. Dr. Hammer also led a workshop on Active Learning and participated in a panel on Trends in Higher Education at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Columbia. In addition, Dr. Hammer presented a talk entitled "Metacognition to enhance student success" at the Northwest Conference on Teaching Introductory Psychology in Seattle in April. She also was an invited speaker at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She currently reviews for the new APA journal, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology.

Dr. Hammer's recent publications include:
Osterbur, M. E., Hammer, E. Y., & Hammer, E. (2015) Does mechanism matter? Student recall of electronic versus handwritten feedback. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(1). Available at:
Weiten, W., Dunn, D. S., & Hammer, E. Y. (2015). Psychology Applied to Modern Life (11th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Mr. Bart Everson (Media Artist, CAT) was invited to the 2014 Teaching & Learning Center Grant Program Meeting at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he presented on "Sustaining a Practice of Contemplative Faculty Development," in conjunction with CAT's 2013 grant from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Mr. Everson also attended the annual conference of the International Digital Media and Arts Association at Utah Valley University in November. Mr. Everson was invited to address Xavier students several times over the academic year. He spoke on "Social Media, Social Justice: Digital Activism from a Planetary Perspective" and "Equinox Mandalas: A Digital Media Arts Process," as well as speaking to a number of classes about meditation techniques. He also gave a guest lecture at Loyola on "Concepts of Gaia."

Ms. Janice Florent (Technology Coordinator, CAT) attended the Bb World, UB Tech, and InfoComm conferences over the summer. Ms. Florent also attended the Workshop on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education (WIPTTE) and Emerging Technologies for Online Learning (ET4Online) conferences in April.

Dr. Tiera S. Coston continued to serve as facilitator for the Science Education Research Group (SERG) meetings, which are informal, multidisciplinary gatherings that are designed to bring together Xavier's STEM faculty for the purpose of discussing pedagogical and other topics relevant to educating STEM students. Additionally, she facilitated the I-Cubed/RISE summer workshops in which faculty who are engaged in freshman- and sophomore-level STEM curricular modification came together to present the elements and outcomes of their work. She has also blogged and presented workshops on the value of mistakes in teaching and learning, best practices in writing different types of assessments and techniques for motivating STEM students.

Dr. Tiera Coston (STEM Educational Improvement Specialist) focuses much of her efforts on mentoring and advising at Xavier. She continues to serves on various institutional and external committees, including the XULA Online Advisory Board and the Advising/Mentoring Committee. She also serves as a member of the National Research Mentor Network (NRMN) Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring (OPM) Committee, which is charged with adapting an exiting online mentor training course to be relevant to faculty working with undergraduates in the STEM disciplines. The committee works to achieve the goals of the both the BUILD/Project Pathways (Building Integrated Pathways to Independence for Diverse Biomedical Researchers) and NRMN initiatives. In February, Dr. Coston presented the work of the Innovation through Institutional Integration (I-CUBED) Program at the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference in San Jose, CA. She also participated in the NRMN Train-the-Trainers Workshop: Facilitating Mentor and Mentee Training in Minneapolis, MN. This training provided the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to develop and implement a effective mentor training program specifically designed for the faculty of Xavier.

Dr. Karen N. Nichols attended for the first time the Distance Learning Administration conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia. As a result, she blogged on the following topics — "Geocaching: A Real Life Scavenger Hunt," "Three Megatrends Influencing Distance Education, and "Using Technology for Teaching...or not." In addition, she was asked to continue serving as the Institutional Representative for Quality Matters for the 2014-2015 academic year. Dr. Karen Nichols also attended for the first time the annual POD (Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education) conference in Dallas in October. She participated in the Department of Languages' reception of Professor Souleymane Dembelé, head of the DER Music Conservatory in Bamako, Mali, and gave technical assistance to Dr. Michael White for his presentation on Duke Ellington: The New Orleans Connection.


Dr. Stassi DiMaggio (Chemistry) 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. She concluded the new faculty brown bag series this semester, and we appreciate the VPAA's support of this initiative.

Mr. Jeremy Tuman (English) served as faculty in residence for service-learning, working closely with our Freshmen Seminar instructors.


The Center for the Advancement of Teaching was honored to receive a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. The grant, entitled CAT Turns XX: Sustainability for Teachers-Scholars, is providing continued support for our Faculty Communities of Teaching Scholars initiative. Our seventh FaCTS cohort (see below) was convened on the theme, "Sustainability Across the Curriculum." The grant also establishes the formation of a Contemplative Inquiry Team, which will provide support for each member's personal practice, contemplative pedagogy, and related research. Additionally, the grant will support new scholarship-related initiatives offered through CAT.

In early January, CAT submitted a proposal for a $944,000 Cyberlearning and Future Technologies grant to the National Science Foundation.


We continue to recognize the Mellon Foundation for generously funding our Faculty Communities of Teaching Scholars (FaCTS) initiative, now in its seventh year. For the 2015 cohort, eight faculty from across campus, as well as two faculty two other HBCUs in our region (see below), were selected based on projects related to the theme, Sustainability Across the Curriculum. The 2015 Mellon FaCTS Fellows include:

  • Dr. Jerry Farmer, Theology
  • Dr. Mark Gstohl, Theology
  • Dr. Jessica Johnson, Pharmacy
  • Dr. Ross Louis, Communication
  • Dr. Yolanda Page, Dillard
  • Dr. Gary Poe, Grambling
  • Dr. Shearon Roberts, Communication
  • Dr. Lisa Schulte, Psychology
  • Dr. Robin Vander, English
  • Dr. John Ware, Music
Photo by Irving Johnson III

Our 2015 FaCTS Summer Seminar was held in our Mellon Seminar Room and our guest consultant was Dr. Charles W. Richardson, Jr. (Clark Atlanta University).

Advisory Board

This year, our MVPs (see above) served as a de facto Advisory Board, with a representative from each academic division as well as a number of CAT staff. The MVP members are as follows:

  • Renee Akbar/Rosalind P Hale, Education and Counseling
  • Cecily Bennet, Biological and Public Health Sciences
  • Cary Caro, Business
  • Mark Gstohl, Fine Arts and Humanities
  • Kelly Johanson, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • KiTani Lemieux, Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Wyndolyn Ludwikowski, Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Kristi M. Rapp, Clinical and Administrative Sciences
  • Tiera S. Coston, CAT
  • Bart Everson, CAT
  • Janice Florent, CAT
  • Elizabeth Yost Hammer, CAT
  • Karen Nichols, CAT
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