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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.



We have been taking steps to make the CAT+FD site more secure. Most recently, we started serving all our content over a secure connection. From this point on, anytime you're visiting our site (including this blog) you may see "https://" at the beginning of the web address in your browser's location field. You may even see a little padlock symbol.

This varies from browser to browser, but here's how it looks on Chrome:

Secure connection (Chrome)

This means that all the content that flows back and forth between your browser and our site is encrypted, encoded, making it harder for anyone else to snoop.

Of course (unless you're CAT+FD staff) you probably aren't exchanging any sensitive data with our site. Still, it's a good idea, with increasing concern in recent years over civil liberties in an age of ubiquitous surveillance.

It might also be the wave of the future. More and more sites are supporting encryption. Google already favors secure sites in its search results.

Some browsers make it easy for you to examine a site's digital certificate. Here's how that looks in Safari:

Certificate in Safari

This shows you that we are who we claim to be. DigiCert is a third party that verifies Xavier's identity.

Sounds pretty good, right? In fact, you may wonder why all your web transactions aren't secure. Well, it's the same reason why we don't all engage in good password behavior. We know it's good in theory, but in practice we defer and delay. Some sites you visit undoubtedly do support secure transactions — but only if you ask for it. You can encrypt as much as possible by using a browser extension like the Electronic Frontier Foundations's HTTPS Everywhere, available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Android.

Thanks to ITC for helping us to implement HTTPS.

Those of you who get these blog posts by email are in for a treat. (If you aren't already signed up, please subscribe now so you never miss a post.) We're upgrading to MailChimp, and going forward, our email newsletter should look better than ever. We're retiring our FeedBurner newsletter (for good reason), and we have high hopes for a smooth transition.

What do you need to do? Nothing! We'll make the switch in a few days. Just relax and enjoy.

The old newsletter usually went out at 4PM, whereas the new newsletter goes out at 4AM. You may get one duplicate issue. Please bear with us!

Actually, however, there is one potential "gotcha" for those who use the tabbed inbox in Gmail.

...continue reading "Email Newsletter Transition"

Here is an interesting article in the Washington Post about high achieving high school students who bomb once they get into college. We all know things like socioeconomic class and, to a lesser degree, standardized test scores factor in.  However, this study used personality traits that correlated to academic success in college.

Two categories were created, the thrivers and the divers. The “thrivers” were those who did much better in college than their high school grades would have predicted. The “divers” were those who did much worse.

"What the divers had in common was a tendency toward rashness and disorder. In particular, they lacked a trait that psychologists call “conscientiousness.” Compared with the average student, divers were less likely to describe themselves as organized or detail-oriented, less likely to say that they are prepared, that they follow a schedule or that they get work done right away. Divers were also more likely to say they crammed for exams and more likely to score highly on measures of impatience."

It looks like all of us, especially our students, could benefit from mindfulness and contemplative practices. If only CAT+FD offered resources for those things...

You can read the full article here:

And check out the CAT+FD calendar for the Monday Quarter of Quiet and Contemplative Inquiry Team here:

by Bart Everson

Spirostar I

Xavier faculty certainly do a lot to advance the University's mission.

That's why here at CAT we are excited to be expanding the scope of our support for Xavier's faculty. Our newly revised mission is focused on "the development of faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility."

Read our complete statement of Mission, Vision & Values.

Photo credit: "Spirostar I" by Heartlover1717

Hopefully by now you've gotten in the habit of using your CAT XX water bottle, bringing it with you to CAT events, and refilling it at our shiny new bottle-filling station.

You may wonder why we decided to stop purchasing flats of bottled water.

Here's why.

(Thanks to Olivia for spotting this amazing video.)

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching has been part of Xavier's culture for 20 years. Therefore we have selected sustainability as the theme for our 20th anniversary year – teaching sustainability in our disciplines, providing offerings to sustain faculty in their professional development, and engaging in sustainable practices of our own – all to promote Xavier's mission of creating a more just and humane society.


In line with our sustainability theme, we are no longer serving bottled water. With the support of Academic Affairs, we've installed a bottle-filling station on the fifth floor of the library. Please remember to bring your water bottle when you come to CAT!

Here at the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Stassi DiMaggio (Chemistry) and Mr. Jeremy Tuman (English) as our newly appointed Faculty in Residence.

Dr. DiMaggio is the CAT Faculty in Residence.

The CAT Faculty in Residence has primary responsibility for enhancing and leading programming for first year faculty. Duties include: assisting in the planning and implementation of new faculty orientation; facilitating new faculty mentoring; organizing and implementing the new faculty "brown bag" series; organizing and implementing a coherent set of workshop open to all faculty but focused on new faculty; assisting in grant writing for CAT initiatives related to first year faculty development; and assisting in the assessment of CAT's programs related to first year faculty development.

Need to get in touch? Contact Dr. DiMaggio.

Mr. Tuman is the Faculty in Residence for Service Learning.

The Faculty in Residence for Service Learning at CAT works in close partnership with the Center for Student Leadership and Service to provide services to faculty incorporating the pedagogy of service-learning into the curriculum and promoting civic engagement through meaningful community participation. Duties include: creating and implementing training workshops and program materials; assisting in identifying service-learning faculty and courses; and serving as the co-chair of the service-learning faculty advisory board.

Need to get in touch? Contact Mr. Tuman.

Attentive readers may have noticed some changes to this space recently. We started this blog to promote our podcast, Teaching, Learning, and Everything Else. We used the blog as a handy way to index episodes and provide additional content such as pictures and links, but the main focus remained on the audio conversations.

Then, in the fall semester of 2009, we decided that we here at the Center for the Advancement of Teaching might have more to say on a variety of subjects, and that a blog might be the best way to do it. Thus was born CAT Food (for thought). We could have established it as an entirely separate creature from the podcast, but I thought it made more sense to simply expand the scope of our existing blog rather than maintain two different blogs going forward.

So, essentially, our podcast blog got bigger and changed its name. Teaching, Learning, and Everything Else is still chugging along, but now it's a topic which will be presented alongside such other topics as Blackboard Bits, Bytes, and Nibbles and Sociable Feast. It's my hope that this model best serves our primary readership, namely faculty in higher education. In particular we are dedicated to our faculty here at Xavier, but we believe much of this content may be of general interest to teachers everywhere.

If you were subscribing to the podcast in a feed reader, you probably didn't notice anything different except that the name of the feed may have changed. Now you know why. If you'd like to continue to focus on the podcast only, you needn't do anything. We now are publishing to separate feeds: one for just the podcast, and another that encompasses all the blog topics, including the podcast.

You'll find all the feed options listed in the sidebar from our main page. And if you don't have any idea what a "feed reader" is, don't worry. There's also an option to subscribe by e-mail.