Welcome to Drury University: A Message for New Faculty
Welcome to a place that will provide splendid opportunities for you as teacher and scholar. Let us encourage you to learn from your department chair and the senior faculty members with whom you will work. Let us encourage you to call upon any and all of the institutional resources to support your important work here. And let us encourage you to enjoy the place, your colleagues and students, and your work.
Drury is distinctive in its commitment to a personalized approach to education. From the first contact in the admission office through our contacts with alumni after they graduate, we are committed to treating students as individuals and responding to their individual needs. Your responsibility as a faculty member is to help each student reach his or her potential. In advising, this means being aware of the needs of the students whom you advise; it means helping them to develop a program that meets their individual goals. It means helping students devise opportunities to enhance their education through work experiences and internships. It means providing that special, personal touch. In all cases it means being available on campus for informal as well as formal contacts with students.
The central test of what we do is to ask, “Is this in the best interests of our students?” That focus can keep our attention on the most important aspects of our work. The commitment to personalized education also includes our outreach to prospective students. We each have an obligation to help students understand the special qualities of the Drury education, and to counsel students in a way that will ease the transition from high school and enhance the college experience.
All of our programs prepare students for productive and fulfilling professional lives. That preparation includes a careful integration of liberal arts with professional programs. The Drury University CORE general education curriculum is designed to give curricular expression to the goals of the university and provide the basis for the integration of liberal arts and professional studies in a global context. With administrative leadership provided by the Associate VPAA for Academic Quality, the CORE curriculum is the responsibility of every faculty member. It is defined by the six goals (or student outcomes) that the faculty identified for the comprehensive educational experience at Drury: developing writing skills, oral communication skills, global awareness, critical thinking, values analysis, and creativity.
Faculty should be completely familiar with the general education curriculum and make every effort to help students see connections between their majors and CORE. Faculty and, particularly advisors, should help students understand and appreciate the value of the CORE curriculum. In particular, faculty have an obligation to help develop coherence throughout the curriculum including connections between majors and the general education curriculum.
Drury’s values are expressed in the goals of the university and underlie the curriculum. The Drury education is interested in synthesis, in helping students understand the connections across disciplines. The Drury education is reflective, and we aim to help students develop habits of reflection. The liberal arts education as it is practiced at Drury engages students actively in the learning experience. As teachers we must be intentional in encouraging students to become involved and take responsibility for their own learning.
A liberal arts education, at its best, creates a bridge between the theoretical and the practical and helps students understand the ways theory and experience relate to and enrich each other. Faculty and students are encouraged to engage in service learning, internships and other kinds of experiences that will complement the classroom.
Faculty members are significant role models. If you are interested in interdisciplinary work and supportive of the CORE curriculum, your students will share that interest and excitement. Faculty are expected to teach in the CORE program as part of their responsibility to the university.
As a faculty member at Drury University, you are expected to maintain the highest standards of professional behavior. You should have the same high standards for your students. Values and value judgments are implicit in everything we do and everything we teach.
Our classrooms should be inquiring, open, and tolerant. We should encourage those same virtues in our students as we help them learn to consider questions of value and to make reasoned value judgments. A part of a liberal education is to learn and practice tolerance and openness to other views. A free and open discussion of ideas must characterize our community. Just as the university will respect and protect your right to academic freedom as a faculty member, you should protect the rights of your students to academic freedom. You should encourage them to feel that they are in an environment of free and open discussion, and do your best to cultivate such an environment in your classrooms and beyond.
Civility in discourse is absolutely essential. We teach that best by modeling it in our behavior. We should encourage students to be courteous in their relationships with other students, particularly during debate and disagreement in class. Courtesy is expected in communication with all of the employees of the university, with students, with parents and, indeed, all of our constituents.
Our community is a place where we can manifest as well as discuss these ideas. This gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the relationship between the theoretical and the practical, the idea and the application of the idea. Through involvement in community service, through service learning and through ethical behavior, we can teach students what it means to be responsible members of a community.
With your students, you should be clear about your expectations: your expectations about attendance, your expectations about academic honesty and integrity, your expectations about the students’ need to perform at the best level that they can, and your expectations regarding priorities. As in all other regards, you are a role model for students with regard to professional behavior. You are a mentor. The way you dress, the way you meet your classes, the way you prepare for your classes, all of these things will be "read" by your students and given more meaning than you imagine. Your respect for faculty colleagues and for your students will translate into student respect for you and for fellow students. Your high standards for yourself and for students will translate into high standards of personal expectation by each student.
Teaching and Scholarship
The model for faculty members at Drury University is the teacher-scholar. Faculty members are expected to be excellent teachers. The single most important criterion for continued employment, promotion, and tenure is the quality of your teaching. Since teaching is never perfected, faculty must continually work to improve their teaching, accepting and understanding all of the sources of information regarding their teaching including student evaluations, comments from department chair and peers, etc. Faculty are expected to discuss their teaching as part of their annual professional development plans.
One important source of feedback is the course evaluations conducted in each class, each semester. We use the IDEA system developed at Kansas State University, which is strongly focused on student learning. These results are taken seriously by individuals, departments, and the institution as a whole. They provide data for both evaluation of instructor effectiveness, but more importantly, can serve as a powerful tool for faculty development.
Faculty are expected to be engaged in scholarly work; promotion and tenure will also depend on demonstrating a pattern of scholarship. Scholarship is defined in the Faculty Handbook. Drury University recognizes scholarship as a vital component of faculty professional development and faculty are expected to demonstrate ability to work and remain current in their area of expertise. A successful pattern of scholarship will generally include communication of ideas to, and critical review by, entities outside Drury. Faculty are encouraged to establish patterns of scholarship early in their career, developing a record that can be reviewed.
You are encouraged to seek balance in your life. The profession you have chosen is a demanding one, and excellence in teaching and scholarship are not easily attained. You will spend more time on your teaching, and that will weigh most heavily in your evaluation at Drury. Your teaching and your professional life will be enhanced by regular and serious engagement in scholarship. In addition to your role as teacher and scholar, you will also be asked to serve the institution in other ways. Governance is one of the most important services faculty contribute to the University.
Drury has a collegial governance system that is described in the Faculty Handbook: “The Board of Trustees, the administration, and the faculty of Drury University are committed to shared governance to promote the mission and goals of the university. The Board delegates authority to other parties, recognizing that the Board has the ultimate responsibility for decisions that emanate from that authority. In some cases, the Board will rely upon the recommendations of the President, who will be informed by judgments of his/her delegates in the administration and the faculty. The commitment to shared governance depends on openness, trust, and continual dialogue among all the members of the Drury community, defined in the broadest sense. The structures and procedures of governance are the means by which the University organizes itself to achieve institutional goals that transcend individual interests and make possible the achievement of larger objectives. Membership in the Drury community presupposes a voluntary commitment to a philosophy of shared governance, to these structures, and to procedures for their orderly change.”
The role of new people in the community is an important one. New ideas complement and challenge the ideas of those who have been at the institution for some time. The development of the very best policies, practices, and curriculum will result from a strong interchange of ideas.
All of us must share a concern for both the individual and the collective well-being. Because the faculty play an important role in the governance of the university, it is essential that there be good faculty leadership. Your role in governance is an important part of the contribution that you make. Without faculty involvement and faculty leadership, the governance system would not work.
A particular prerogative of the faculty is the curriculum. In this regard it is the responsibility of all faculty members to set aside individual interests, and work to develop and sustain the best and most forward-looking curriculum to meet and serve the needs of our students.
By virtue of being a faculty member, you will be perceived by students and staff as one of the leaders in the institution and as an exemplar of what we ought to be. Your concern for educational excellence, for our common values, for individual students and their needs will help to set the tone for the institution. You have a very significant responsibility. From the students' point of view, you are an expert and model of what the educated person is and should be.
Faculty are expected to be supportive and positive about the mission and goals of the university. Obviously, this is not intended to preclude debate and discussion regarding those goals and values, but the university has made commitments and faculty need to be supportive of and enthusiastic about those goals and commitments that have been shaped by the faculty in this community over the years.
Your work with individual students will help to insure that the largest number of students possible is able to complete their education successfully. The retention of students is important to us because many of the students who choose to leave any institution do so because of dissatisfaction with the institution, not because the kind of educational experience that they need is unavailable. The students who come to Drury have the ability to achieve their educational goals. It is our responsibility to create an environment that enhances the opportunities for each student and encourages students to reach toward their educational potential.
Implicit in all that has been said about personalized education, collegiality, faculty governance, advising, and interaction is the expectation that faculty members will be available on campus to meet both formally and informally with students and faculty colleagues. It is the expectation of the university that all full-time faculty will be available a significant portion of each day when regularly scheduled classes are held. Such availability makes possible the committee work of faculty governance and the informal contacts that are so essential to a community in which conversation and the life of the mind are important.