Cohort 1 Lilly Faculty Fellows Program Campus Project Summaries
Ben Brammell and Daniel Strait
The Faith and Science Faculty Fellows Program at Asbury University (AU) seeks to find the connection between faith and science and foster discovery across disciplines. For Faith and Science programming in the 2020-21 academic year, co-directors of the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program grant Dr. Ben Brammell, Professor of Biology at Asbury University, and Dr. Daniel Strait, Professor of English at AU, held three Faith and Science events with the purpose of engaging faculty and students in a dialogue about the relationship between faith and science.
The first Symposium fostered an interdisciplinary dialogue across lines of specialization to renew and enliven a sense of Christian calling among faculty, and to enlarge the intellectual, religious (Christian-Wesleyan), social, and moral context for cultivating redemptive human action. The second Symposium featured Dr. Praveen Sethupathy, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Director of the Center for Genomics at Cornell University, who gave a lecture via Zoom to the faculty about the common ground between faith and science. In the third event, Dr. Sethupathy was the guest lecturer at a student Faith and Science event.
As a result of these Faith and Science program events, AU learned that, while interest in faith and science topics may not be universal, given the opportunity, the institution has a number of faculty that are interested in participating in activities that strengthen the connection between their field and their faith as well as their field and other disciplines. AU desires to extend this program into more lectures and seminars, regional conferences and potentially an honors class or Foundations course requirement. The co-directors will seek more funding to accomplish these long-term goals.
Douglas A. Vander Griend & Kevin den Dulk
Our program targeted associate professors and aimed to focus on attributes of leadership as well as faith and excellence. Leadership is defined in various ways, but one definition that fits the vision for this program is a process of social influence which maximizes efforts of others towards achievement of a goal (Kevin Kruse, “What Is Leadership?” Forbes). We chose the lens of leadership for several reasons:
- More specific than excellence, leadership focuses on social influence.
- Leadership is rarely a focus of intentional development in small-to-medium sized academic institutions (including at Calvin).
- The current environment for higher education is highly dynamic, and the challenge of navigating it successfully requires skills beyond standard expertise in one’s discipline.
- We believe focusing on leadership can initiate a cascade of positive impact throughout the institution.
This last point is especially indicative of the value of leadership. In fact, leadership itself becomes self-evident because when leaders improve, everybody wins. In a Christian context this means that when Christians influence others, the Kingdom of God advances.
We focused on associate professors because mid-career faculty are poised to leverage their growing expertise of teaching, scholarship, and service yet are often overlooked in the process of faculty development. Also, they are ready to broaden the impact of their faith through their careers and impact Calvin greatly over next decades. All associate professors at Calvin were invited to participate in one of three peer-to-peer discussion groups: Faithful Leadership in Teaching (led by D. Vander Griend), Faithful Leadership in Scholarship (Led by K. Du Mez), Faithful Leadership in Service (led by K. den Dulk). Each group held 4-8 meetings and discussed relevant readings. Not only were there many formative discussions about how to lead faithfully in areas of teaching, scholarship, and service, but that the communities that formed around these conversations were extremely valuable to the faculty because it was such a taxing year overall.
Eastern Mennonite University
Laura Yoder and Esther Tian
For our EMU Lilly Fellows Program, we invited any mid-career faculty to apply, and selected six faculty from a variety of disciplines to participate in the program during the 2020-2021 academic year. Due to the pandemic, we did not begin the program until spring semester 2021 and ended the program at the end of fall semester 2021.
Our two project aims were: 1) Nurture mid-career faculty from a variety of disciplines in their exploration of “What does it mean to be a Christian Academician?” and 2) Encourage the fellows’ development and application of practices and habits in response to the question. To meet these aims, we had monthly meetings over zoom with the six fellows where we discussed a shared reading; a Spring 2021 workshop open to all EMU faculty members with Dr. Nathan Alleman, Baylor University, author of The Outrageous Idea of Christian Teaching; participants developed a plan for a “Christian praxis” project, fall 2021 keynote speaker open to all EMU faculty members with Dr. Derek Schuurman, Calvin University, author of Connecting Bytes with Beliefs; and a one-day retreat at Gallywinter Farm.
Grove City College
Brian Dellinger and Dr. Michelle McFeaters
Our project was to lead a pair of linked faculty groups during the 2020-2021 academic year. The groups were to be centered around our respective areas; Brian would assist a group of faculty from STEM fields (computer science, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, etc.), and Michelle would work with a group of faculty from business-related fields (accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, management, marketing, etc.) to provide space for participating faculty to reflect upon their callings as academics and enliven and encourage each other. Each group would read relatively-short books on the intersection of faith and academic work within the STEM and business fields. In addition, we planned to bring several speakers to campus to discuss related issues.
The two reading groups were to primarily conduct their readings separately, as this would provide opportunity for rich conversation in domain-specific fields. At intervals, however, the two groups would meet together to fellowship and share thoughts, especially after hearing from and engaging with each speaker. These periodic meetings were to allow ideas to “cross-pollinate” between groups and to share interesting discoveries or conclusions. Despite COVID-related interruptions, much of the core of the project was completed as intended, although speakers were brought to campus on a delayed timeline.
Northwest Nazarene University
Jennifer Chase and Donna Allen
Our program had 2 main, interrelated activities: book clubs and a speaker for the full faculty start-of-year retreat.
The book club read Sulmasy’s “A Balm for Gilead: Meditations on Spirituality and the Healing Arts”, with about 2 chapters per month plus a mid-year retreat. The goal of the book is to encourage physicians to reconsider the spiritual aspects of their vocation. Some of this is how to refocus one's attention on the spiritual dimension of those served, of the challenges of the vocation itself, and the internal sources of motivation and intent that physicians need. We saw that there were deep parallels between the vocation of medicine and teaching. (Of course, for the participant who teaches in the nurse practitioner program, there was no distinction!) We chose to focus on chapter 8, Sulmasy’s rewriting of the beatitudes, for our mid-year retreat and writing exercise.
We invited David I Smith to be our speaker for the 2022 faculty retreat (August 2022). He spoke to the participants (faculty and spouses) to show us how one can teach Christianly & not be caught in the idea that teaching is independent of our faith. He based the presentations on the content of his book On Christian Teaching, as well as John Amos Comenius: A Visionary Reformer of Schools. His message was very well received, with about a dozen participants querying him for several hours after the last session.
Matthew Fleenor and Matthew Rearick
The primary goal of the Lilly Faculty Fellows program at Roanoke College (LFF @ RC) is to support the development of “whole” faculty on campus. We believe a pro-active dialogue around the themes of “who we are” and “what we are” will serve as a bridge to a richer, holistic community of thinkers, learners and doers, one that can truly embrace the mantra of aspiring to educate students as “whole persons”. We argue one must be, or aspire to be, a whole person before venturing on to mentor others to become whole persons.
Program content centered around the Roanoke College mission statement, the Rule of St. Benedict, supportive literature from Lilly and our own personal journeys, as well as a secular text by Brene Brown, Dare to Lead.
The program unfolded throughout the entire year, meeting one time per month over 8 months. Topically, the primary focus was INWARD (personal) in the fall and OUTWARD (serving) in the spring. Each monthly gathering introduced a combination of short reading(s), quotes and/or prompts that suitably informed the theme for that session and provided participants with the necessary background for their own reflection, prior to, and subsequent sharing in an open and dynamic dialogue. The year was bookended by an introductory session in September and final social in May (outdoors and face to face for the first time!). Four main thematic meetings covered five areas of interest: i.) Values, ii.) Rest & Prayer, iii.) Work and iv.) Community. Pre meeting readings, questions and thoughts, and post meeting reflections were provided to faculty members.
Saint Xavier University
Zepure Sawami and Nathan Peck
The Lilly Faculty Fellow Program at Saint Xavier University provided space for creative exploration of how Christian thought and practice intersect the academic vocation. The pilot cohort included mid-career tenured faculty across the disciplines. The program examined the Sisters of Mercy Critical Concerns: earth, immigration, nonviolence, racism, and women as a focused lens through faculty engagement and practices with academic vocations across their disciplines. By framing the series in the Critical Concerns, the faculty fellows were draw from the University’s rich Mercy tradition and their teaching, scholarship and service experiences with the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy. The outcome was to develop a video storytelling series, worth viewing, on faculty’s relationship to the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy.
The program included monthly meetings, scheduled activities and creation of the video storytelling. The format of monthly meetings allowed the faculty to share their stories of how they connect the Critical Concerns and the Mercy tradition to their own professions, vocations, and teaching. The meetings occurred fall 2020 and spring 2021, and each meeting convened for two hours. The creation of the video storytelling was accomplished by three things. First, during the sessions Dr. Peck and Dr. Samawi generated interesting questions for our faculty participants to share in regard to their own stories of the critical concerns. Second, interview time was set up with each faculty participant for professional quality interviews. The interviewer used the questions generated in the meeting to guide the faculty member and help draw out stories and personal experiences relative to the Critical Concerns into a five to fifteen-minute mini documentary. Third, Dr. Peck and Dr. Samawi collected high quality video and audio of faculty telling their stories. The final editing phase required independent work by a professional video editor and consultation with the faculty fellows. The outcome of our scholarly conversation was the development of a professional video documentary of the faculty work in how they relate their work to the critical concerns.