Just a few days ago, it seemed like campus was empty. Now it's teeming with people, and on Monday we'll be back in full swing.
As I participated in our annual Faculty & Staff Institute, I reflected on how the university seems to spring into being so quickly, so suddenly. How is it possible for all these faculty and students to swoop onto campus and reconstitute an operational university in such short order?
The answer, obviously, is that campus wasn't empty ten days ago. Plenty of staff members and administrators (and, yes, even some faculty) have been laboring here diligently all summer and all year round. I'm proud to count myself in that number. I was reminded that our faculty and students need the support of our hard-working staff, in order that we can even have a university.
Yet, campus seemed empty without faculty and students around. It was peaceful and quiet. I enjoyed it, but that's a temporary condition. Indeed, the illusion of peaceful emptiness was delicious precisely because of its ephemeral nature. I was reminded that staff members like myself need our faculty and students in order for our work here to have any meaning.
These are simple observations, to be sure. I merely want to affirm this simple truth: we need each other.
Our cultural summer is over, though the heat will blaze on for quite a while. In the coming school year, it's my wish that we may find that great value that we supply to each other, that we may see it, and act upon it, in service to our shared mission.
"[M]y time at Xavier has allowed me to understand and appreciate the mission of St. Katharine Drexel and the University. This insight is vital for understanding the needs of our students and the demands upon our faculty and how this impacts programing at CAT+FD. -Dr. Mark Gstohl
Although we are sad to see Dr. Jay Todd move on to other things, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Mark Gstohl back to CAT+FD as our new Associate Director for Programming beginning January 2022! Dr. Gstohl is an associate professor in the Theology Department who has taught at Xavier since 2000. He formerly served as CAT+FD's faculty-in residence for Service-Learning from 2010-2013. His service-learning projects, Little Free Library projects, and work with local artist Jacqueline Ehle Inglefield at A Studio In the Woods helped him to win the Top 100 Leaders in Education by the Global Forum for Education & Learning in 2021, in recognition of his contribution to the field of education.
In addition, Dr. Gstohl brings his talent in incorporating technology into teaching, as well as his expertise in effective online teaching. He served on our original e-learning committees and implemented effective online and hybrid pedagogical practices well before they were pandemic imperatives.
In 2014 (CAT+FD's 20th anniversary) Dr. Gstohl served as a central member of our MVP team, where we explored how our mission should grow and change. It is with this insight and history that he will approach his new position to support our activities and initiatives by planning and promoting CAT+FD programming.
It is with great CAT+FD pride and almost as much heartache that we lend our support to Dr. Tiera Coston as she joins the A&S Dean's office as the new Assistant Dean for Engagement and Outreach. In this position, she will provide oversight for our new Quality Enhancement Plan, ‘CARE.’
Tiera has been in CAT+FD since 2013, when we were simply CAT. She has played a large role in the evolution of our work including expanding our mission to support all areas of faculty responsibility, developing expertise in supporting effective, culturally responsive mentorship, and meeting the professional development needs of our STEM colleagues. These are only a few of the areas where she has made an impact. Of course, there are too many to name individually.
Personally, I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned from Tiera over the years—about leadership, kindness, faith, little dogs and more. I know I speak for all in CAT+FD when I say that we wish her well, we support her, and we are looking forward to seeing the amazing things she does with CARE.
You can read more about Tiera in her bio below.
Tiera S. Coston is a proud alumna of Xavier University of Louisiana. She earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Tulane University and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Dr. Coston joined Xavier’s staff in 2013 as the STEM Educational Improvement Specialist in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development (CAT+FD). She has also served as the Assistant Director for Mentoring and Pre-Law Advising. Dr. Coston has more than 13 years of experience supporting faculty and in the areas of pedagogy, curricular development and enhancement, and mentoring. She has collaborated with faculty to develop their teaching and mentorship in projects sponsored by Innovation through Institutional Integration (iCUBED), Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), and Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD). She has conceptualized, developed and implemented three different mentorship education programs that are currently ongoing at Xavier - Preparing Mentors and Advisors at Xavier (P-MAX), Entering Research at Xavier University of Louisiana (ER-XULA) and Mentee-to-Mentor (M2M). She is a National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Certified Facilitator, which requires demonstration of consistent and effective facilitation of mentoring-themed workshops and seminars. She has facilitated these events and Xavier, throughout the United States and abroad. She mentors undergraduate research and pre-law students as well as freshly minted Xavier alumni whose goal is to gain entry into graduate or professional school programs. She has had the privilege of teaching general biology and the various iterations of College Experience. In all of her work, her ultimate goal is to facilitate and promote the success of Xavier’s students for the fulfillment of Xavier’s mission.
The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development is delighted to welcome Ms. Carla Simmons to our team! Carla is a native New Orleanian and Xavier University of Louisiana alumna, graduating with a degree in psychology. With an interest in serving the community, Carla is pursuing a Master's in Public Administration at the University of New Orleans and served in the Junior League of New Orleans from 2016-2018. Carla is an avid Jazz Fest attendee, reads almost any book she gets her hands on, and loves to practice yoga. Carla will provide administrative support for the Center and we are delighted to have her on board. In the new year, we encourage XULA faculty to stop by and introduce themselves.