UML Cuts Ribbon on Space for Collaboration and Innovation at University Crossing

Two women and a man pose for a photo while cutting a ceremonial ribbon in an office Image by Ed Brennen
Chancellor Julie Chen, left, cuts the ribbon on the new Faculty Success Center at University Crossing with Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Julie Nash and Provost Joe Hartman.

By Ed Brennen

Three years and three days after the university shifted all courses online because of COVID-19, it cut the ribbon on the new Faculty Success Center — a physical space borne out of the need for faculty to collaborate and learn from one another remotely during the pandemic.

“Never let a crisis go to waste,” said Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Julie Nash, echoing the words of Winston Churchill, as she welcomed dozens of faculty, staff and administrators to the center’s ceremonial grand opening. “With the pandemic, we were able to see that teaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We need a space where people can come together and support their teaching and careers.”

Located on the first floor of University Crossing Building B (UC-140), the Faculty Success Center brings three resources together under one roof: the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT), Academic and Instructional Technology and the ADVANCE Office for Faculty Equity.

While UML is first and foremost an institution of learning for students, Chancellor Julie Chen noted that it’s also a place where faculty, staff and administrators continue to learn and create new ideas.

“This space is about faculty being able to test new ideas and support each other, and for staff to be a part of that,” she said. “It will be exciting to see this place bustling.”
A small group of people talk with one another in a room with a diamond pattern on the walls Image by Ed Brennen
Faculty and staff chat during the opening of the Faculty Success Center at University Crossing's Building B.

In addition to spaces for meetings and workshops, the center has a Faculty Technology Sandbox where faculty can try instructional tools such as lightboards, virtual whiteboards and one-button lecture recording. Faculty can email to schedule a training session.

There is also a library featuring faculty-authored books and a collection of pedagogy-related publications on topics such as assessment and universal design. The library is curated by the CELT strategy team of Nash, Shaima Ragab (Director of Faculty Success), Donna Mellen (Director of Academic Technology), Paula Haines (Senior Director of Curriculum Assessment and Accreditation) and Patrick Connell (Executive Director of Online Learning and Faculty Development for Graduate & Professional Studies).

“It’s great to see the faculty-authored books in one place. I wasn’t aware of all the different things our faculty were doing,” Amit Deokar, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the Manning School of Business, said after browsing the titles.

The center’s walls, meanwhile, are decorated with works by five faculty members from the Art & Design Department: Assoc. Prof. Pouya Afshar, Assoc. Teaching Prof. Regina Milan, Asst. Teaching Profs. Melissa Schrenker and Pavel Romaniko and adjunct Meghan Ambra.

The center officially opened its doors at the beginning of the semester and, for its first in-person event, hosted a faculty panel discussion on incorporating the artificial intelligence application ChatGPT in the classroom. A follow-up discussion is planned for late April.

“We’re hoping this will be a focal point where all faculty, whether they’re adjunct or have been here for 10 years, can come together for a coffee and discuss topics,” Ragab said. “Whether they’re perfecting a skill or learning a completely new skill, that’s what we’re here for.”