Annual Report, May 2016

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

A New Name

The Center formerly known as CAT is proud to become the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development. We are excited about CAT+FD and have updated our logo. Thanks to the 100+ Xavier faculty who participated in our poll to choose a new name that reflects our new mission.


A New Associate Director

In the summer of 2015, CAT+FD was delighted to welcome Dr. Jason Todd (English) as our new Associate Director for Programming. In this role, Dr. Todd assists in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based CAT+FD 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+FD staff to plan, implement, and assess a variety of faculty development activities related to the QEP.

[Photo of Jason Todd]

Mid-Course Reviews

CAT+FD continued to offer Mid-Course Reviews to interested faculty members during both the Fall and Spring semesters. In the Fall, 21 classes reviewed; in the Spring, 18 were reviewed. Over a third of all requests were for online courses. Dr. Karen Nichols, Distance Education Coordinator, conducted special online reviews for these requests. For each of the in-class requests, one of twelve faculty volunteers conducted a review with the students, summarized the responses, and provided the faculty member with a report of the findings. Such anonymous feedback can help strengthen a course while it is still being taught.

Many thanks to our Mid-Course Reviewers:

  • Renee Akbar, Education
  • Jason Berntsen, Philosophy
  • Tiera Coston, CAT+FD
  • Stassi DiMaggio, Chemistry
  • Oliver Hennessey, English
  • Karen Nichols, CAT+FD
  • Elizabeth Rousselle, Languages
  • Jay Todd, CAT+FD
  • Jeremy Tuman, English
  • Patrick Vernon, Mathematics


Our theme for the year was "Inverted Teaching and Learning." Inverted teaching, also known as flipping the classroom, is an innovative pedagogy that uses current technological trends to upend the traditional model of education, wherein the student "learns" the content through classroom lecture and goes home to apply that learning with homework assignments. With inverted learning, the content is delivered to the student outside of the classroom through online lectures, podcasts, assigned readings, etc., before class, freeing up the time in class to allow for things like active, collaborative, and problem-based learning that allow the student to truly learn the material with the instructor providing guidance when necessary. Inverted teaching shifts the classroom focus from remembering and understanding to applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, the true achievements of learning. Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, we offered workshops to help Xavier faculty to learn about this pedagogical approach. This also served as the focus for the Faculty Communities of Teaching and Scholarship fellowships (see more below).

Book Club

For our ninth annual Fall Faculty Book Club, we read How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010) by Susan A. Ambrose, Marsha C. Lovett, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, and Marie K. Norman. Dr. Jason Todd facilitated the book club.

How Learning Works

Blog and Podcast

We were delighted to learn that our blog, CAT FooD (for thought) was cited on the EdTech Dean's list for two years running (2015 and 2016). Our podcast series, Teaching, Learning & Everything Else, continued with fifteen new episodes as CAT+FD staff rotated hosting duties.


In the 2015-2016 academic year, CAT+FD sponsored 40 events which attracted 290 (non-unique) attendees. We offered a diverse slate of workshops on topics including flipped classrooms, culturally aware mentoring, writing productivity, time management and many others. Throughout the year, CAT+FD hosted a number of guest speakers who shared their expertise on a wide array of topics.

In addition, CAT+FD hosted three Writing Lock-Ins and nine faculty participated in our ongoing Course Portfolio Working Group (led by Dr. Jason Berntsen).

Dr. Verret Addresses New Faculty
Dr. Verret Addresses New Faculty

At New Faculty Orientation in August we welcomed fourteen new faculty members to Xavier University. We hosted a day and a half orientation to introduce faculty to Xavier resources. Throughout the academic year, we hosted brown bags for this group, discussing topics such as teaching at an HBCU, getting grants, and creating effective assignments. The New Faculty mentoring program is also underway. Dr. Stassi DiMaggio (Chemistry) continues to coordinate these efforts as faculty in residence.

On the tenth anniversary of Katrina, CAT+FD co-sponsored Rising Tide X, which convened in Xavier's University Center. This was the fifth year that CAT+FD has sponsored this "conference on the future of New Orleans," which has now completed its final iteration. Noted activist DeRay McKesson gave a keynote address on the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

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

Staff Spotlight

Dr. Tiera Coston (STEM Educational Improvement Specialist) made a poster presentation at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Conference on Crossing Boundaries: Transforming STEM Education in November 2015. She also facilitated the 2015 I-CUBED Summer Workshops as well as the inaugural P-MAX (Preparing Mentors and Advisors as Xavier) Workshop. Dr. Coston served on the committee which drafted and submitted a pre-proposal to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for a grant whose objective is to increase institutional capacity for inclusion of students from all backgrounds in science. She continues to serve on the Advising and Mentoring Committee. Dr. Coston served as a moderator (for the third consecutive year) for the Honda Classic All-Star Challenge tournament at Xavier. She was invited to participate in the Workshop on STEM Transformation in San Francisco, CA. She presented the work of Xavier's I-CUBED, RISE and BUILD programs in a poster presentation at the Association of American Colleges and Universities Transforming STEM Education conference in Seattle, WA. She also taught general biology lecture and lab. In the spring of 2016, Dr. Coston became a part of the newly formed BUILD Cultural Responsiveness Task Force, and chairs a subcommittee on the task force.

Mr. Bart Everson (Media Artist) was invited to participate in a panel on "Building Beloved Communities" at the annual conference of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education at Howard University in Washington DC in October 2015. He presented for the Online Learning Consortium on "Phantom Vibrations: Technopathology and the Mindfulness Movement." Here at Xavier, he organized a study group to read Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si' and spoke to a Theology class about "Concepts of Gaia."

Ms. Janice Florent (Technology Coordinator) attended the Bb World conference in July 2015. She also attended the Online Learning Consortium Innovate conference in April.

Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer (Director), in her role as Chief Reader for Advanced Placement Psychology, presented the 2015 exam results at the Advanced Placement Annual Conference in Austin, TX. She was a keynote speaker at the Atlantic Coast Teaching Introductory Psychology Conference in Red Banks, NJ. She completed the revisions for the 12th edition of her co-authored textbook, Psychology Applied to Modern Life. She chaired the search committee for Xavier's new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs as well as the Student Rating Review Team. Finally, she supervised 13 undergraduate students who presented at the 2016 Festival of Scholars.

Dr. Karen Nichols (Distance Education Coordinator) attended the Institute for New Faculty Developers and the Distance Learning Administration Conference, both in June. She chaired the strategic planning team for the Center for Continuing Studies and Distance Education and chaired the XULA Online Advisory Board. She participated in the Student Ratings Review Team and the Technology Advisory Committee. She held virtual meetings with the special interest group, ETC (Educational Technology Community), presenting virtual workshops for faculty. Dr. Nichols was invited by Quality Matters to be part of the national team updating the K-12 Rubric. In addition, she co-presented at the Online Learning Consortium's International Conference on the topic of faculty development for online instructors. Here at Xavier, she also taught French online.

Dr. Jason Todd (Associate Director) had his article "Interdisciplinarity and Graphic Novels" published in the Fall 2015 issue of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum. Dr. Todd convened, at the request of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Core Curriculum Working Group to review and reconsider the current Core Curriculum of the CAS. In December, 2015, Dr. Todd presented with Dr. Danielle Duffourc, Xavier's Director for Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, at the SACS/COC Annual Meeting in Houston on the successes of and lessons learned from Read Today, Lead Tomorrow, Xavier's Quality Enhancement Plan. Dr. Todd presented a paper at the Annual Conference of the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association in March 2016. In addition, he has served on the Honorary Degree Committee, the CAS Coordinating Committee, the SACS/COC 5-Year Interim Report Working Group, and the Associate Vice President for Development Search Committee.


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. He worked with faculty from Psychology, Chemistry, Business, and Philosophy to strengthen their service-learning courses taught during 2015-2016. He continued to work with the Freshman Seminar program to integrate service-learning into the course and to the common reading. And he continued efforts to promote service-learning as a faculty-led initiative with strong institutional support.


We were 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, now in its eighth cohort. The grant also establishes the formation of the Xavier Contemplative Inquiry Team. (See below for more information on both of these initiatives.)

The Mellon grant also supported four first-time grant-writers through a course release in Spring 2016. This initiative provided release time for faculty to work on and submit their first external grant proposal. This support is intended to help faculty members sustain their research and scholarship even in the face of a heavy teaching load.

  • Wyndi Ludwikowski, Psychology
  • Elizabeth Manley, History
  • Robin Runia, English
  • Zhe Wang, Chemistry

Finally, through this grant CAT+FD awarded 15 faculty travel funds in support of scholarship. This program provided travel money in support of teacher-scholars through a competitive application process. Up to $1750 in travel funds was awarded to the following for travel related to their scholarship during 2016.

  • Shayna Blum, Art
  • Ashwith Chilvery, Physics
  • Galina Goloverda, Chemistry
  • Donna Gould, History
  • Navneet Goyal, Chemistry
  • Michael Homan, Theology
  • Yevgeniy Kostrov, Chemistry
  • Katheryn Laborde, English
  • Ross Louis, Communication Studies
  • Wyndi Ludwikowski, Psychology
  • Elizabeth Manley, History
  • Megan Osterbur, Political Science
  • Elizabeth Rousselle, Languages
  • Robin Runia, English
  • Robin Vander, English

CAT+FD secured a grant from Bringing Theory to Practice, which supported an all-day seminar on "Sustainability & Well-Being at Xavier." Held in January 2016, this was a facilitated conversation examining our campus culture of sustainability as a prior condition necessary for the well-being of students, faculty and staff. This meeting aimed to begin a process toward an increased culture of sustainability. Partners included Academic Affairs, Student Services, Department of Public Health Sciences, Counseling & Wellness Center, and Campus Ministry. Sodexo co-sponsored the event and provided a delicious and healthy meal. The seminar was facilitated by Dr. Charles W. Richardson, Jr., Dean of the School of Business at Claflin University. We were honored to have Xavier's new president, Dr. C. Reynold Verret, amongst the participants on the closing "Future Focus" panel, as well as Dr. Marguerite Giguette of Academic Affairs, Mrs. Nedra Alcorn of Student Services, and Mr. Tony Moore of ITC. We are hopeful that this is just the first step in a more comprehensive approach to sustainability and well-being campus-wide. A full report has been published.


We continue to recognize the Mellon Foundation for generously funding our Faculty Communities of Teaching Scholars (FaCTS) initiative, now in its eighth year. For the 2016 cohort, nine 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, "Inverted Teaching & Learning." Dr. Lisa Schulte served as the FaCTS Coordinator. The 2016 Mellon FaCTS Fellows include:

  • Dr. Cary Caro, Business
  • Dr. Kelly Johanson, Chemistry
  • Dr. Willie Jones, SUNO
  • Dr. Wyndolyn Ludwikowski, Psychology
  • Dr. Elizabeth Manley, History
  • Dr. Ariel Encalade Mitchell, Education
  • Dr. Ifeanyi Onor, Pharmacy
  • Dr. Megan Osterbur, Political Science
  • Dr. Richard Peters, Business
  • Dr. Julie Basu Ray, Dillard
  • Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, Education
Photo by Irving Johnson III
Photo by Irving Johnson III

Our 2016 FaCTS Summer Seminar was held in our Mellon Seminar Room and our guest consultant was Aaron Sams.


The Xavier Contemplative Inquiry Team (XCIT) provides support for each member's personal practice, contemplative pedagogy, and related research. The team of eleven participants first convened in the fall of 2015 and continued this work in the spring 2016 semester. The inaugural team included:

  • Rene Akbar, Education
  • Bart Everson, CAT+FD (facilitator)
  • Wendy Gaudin, FRSM
  • Donna Gould, English
  • Nicole Greene, English
  • MaP≤ Kinnord, Art
  • Ross Louis, Communications
  • Herb McGuin, Library
  • Robin Runia, English
  • Lisa Schulte, Psychology
  • Jason Todd, CAT+FD
Sr. Consulata Visits XCIT
Sr. Consulata (SBS) spoke to the Xavier Contemplative Inquiry Team about the spirituality of the Laguna people, covering much ground from landforms to cornmeal to fetishes to salt to the Prayer of the Four Directions.


CAT+FD has been selected as one of twelve centers to take part in a study that will inform the understanding of how STEM education centers and centers for teaching and learning currently function on their campuses. This research is part of an NSF-funded initiative titled, Creating and Studying a National Network of Centers of STEM Education: Developing Foundational Infrastructure for Educational Transformation and is being conducted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.