The NAC&U Faculty Ambassadors have accomplished much in three years, including the recent creation of a planning grant for cross-institutional collaborations known as the Collaboration, Growth, and Innovation (CGI) Grant Program. This new program comes on the heels of the successful NAC&U Award for Student Excellence that was implemented last year by the Faculty Ambassadors.

To encourage and facilitate collaborative projects, the CGI Grant Program is designed to foster connections and seed collaborative projects in the areas of teaching, service, research, and scholarship among faculty at different NAC&U institutions. For more information on applying for this planning grant, please go here.

“This program is unique in that it provides funding support for faculty across the consortium to plan, rather than simply implement, collaborative endeavors,” noted Jeannetta Williams, associate professor of psychology at St. Edward’s University and NAC&U Faculty Ambassador. “At smaller institutions where faculty development resources may be scarce, a CGI grant is a great way to jumpstart innovative projects.”

Building on Previous Success

After a successful inaugural year, the Faculty Ambassadors also have opened the call for submissions for the 2018 Award for Student Excellence. Last year three students within the consortium were recognized for their knowledge and experience in liberal arts, professional studies and experiential learning, and/or civic engagement after a competitive process of 13 submissions that covered a range of disciplines from natural science to criminal justice to public health.

The awardees – Rebecca Carman of Ohio Northern University, Amy Ontai of St. Edward’s University, and Samantha Tirrell of The Sage Colleges – presented their work to faculty and administrators at the NAC&U Summer Institute in June at Valparaiso University. Their projects included an interactive web-series designed to engage middle school students with science, graphic design campaigns that address societal challenges, and a paper that employed post-colonial theory to draw parallels between a fictional character in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and the secession of the sovereign state of Biafra from Nigeria. For more on this year’s call for submissions, please go here.

“From the outset, Faculty Ambassadors have believed that a great many students who attend NAC&U institutions are doing incredible things not only in their chosen fields of study but also in the areas of Liberal Arts, Professional Programs, and Civic Engagement,” said Keith Koster, assistant professor of music and co-chair of the NAC&U Faculty Ambassadors. “Our inaugural winners serve as powerful reminders of the transformational kinds of experiences that our institutions provide the next generation of scholars, artists, professionals and leaders.”

Creating a National Network of Faculty

The NAC&U Faculty Ambassadors are a relatively new, and quite unique, constituency group within NAC&U. In 2013, NAC&U held an Innovation Summit at North Central College that brought together faculty from member institutions to discuss how to increase professional development and student learning opportunities within the consortium. One of the recommendations was to establish the NAC&U Faculty Ambassadors, a constituency group of one to two faculty members per campus, that work together as a group to share best practices, collaborate with one another, and link other faculty and students on their campuses with resources and opportunities in NAC&U. The group first met in June 2014 at NAC&U’s Annual Summer Institute. In addition to the award and grant programs, the Faculty Ambassadors have monthly topical conference calls, share collaborative opportunities via science and humanities databases, and collaborate on campus visits (guest authors, for example) and student projects.

“The NAC&U ambassador program has made cross-institutional collaborations a very real possibility,” said Heidi Laudien, associate professor of English at Manhattan College and co-chair of the NAC&U Faculty Ambassadors. “Our monthly conference calls are a unique opportunity to engage with faculty from different disciplines to strategize solutions to challenges specific to our campuses. Rarely do faculty have the opportunity for such collegial exchanges. As the co-coordinator of the program for the past three years I have had the unique pleasure of working with faculty from across the United States and it has been an invaluable experience both personally and professionally.”