AU REPORT |
Budget will include new programs
Redfields receive Humanitarian Award
Two departments to merge in 2001
AU mourns slain graduate student, wife
Board grants tuition break to GTAs
Budget guidelines include pay raises, new programs
Budget guidelines authorized on Monday by the AU Board of Trustees will provide a 2 percent across-the-board pay increase to faculty and staff and a 3 percent pool of funds for merit and equity increases, effective Oct. 1.
The guidelines also call for a 3 percent overall increase in funding for departmental operating budgets, $1.5 million for academic "Peaks of Excellence" programs, an additional $1 million for development of new "Peaks" programs, a new $750,000 fund in the Provost's Office to ease the impact of enrollment fluctuations and overcrowded core classes and a new $1 million program for need-based undergraduate fellowships.
The guidelines, endorsed by President William Muse, were developed by an 18-member committee of faculty, staff and students headed by Executive Vice President Don Large. The administration will use the guidelines to develop a budget for review at the board's next regular session on Aug. 31. Final review and a vote on the 2000-01 budget are scheduled for Sept. 29.
The budget committee forecasts $18.2 million in additional funds for the main campus next year. Of that amount, approximately half is slated for employee compensation.
Guidelines for pay raises will be similar to those adopted last year, with the amount of each raise in excess of 2 percent based on merit determinations or salary equity adjustments. The raises will go to all fulltime employees as of June 1. Parttime employees are also covered if they work halftime or more.
Muse said the increases are a step toward moving Auburn closer to the regional average in compensation for faculty and staff.
The salary increases and most other spending increases set forth in the guidelines are in keeping with the Priorities and Reallocation Plan adopted by the trustees in January 1999. Those priorities include an additional $1 million for deferred maintenance, raising spending for that objective to $7.4 million next year as the university steps up its campaign to improve maintenance of campus buildings.
Approximately $2.3 million is targeted for special one-time allocations to the library, instructional technology, core curriculum, diversity enhancement, laboratory enhancements, semester transition and other needs.
In his annual report, Board President Pro Tem Jimmy Samford cited the priorities on which the budget is based as one of the board's chief accomplishments.
"I want to emphasize that these achievements are possible because of the vision and leadership of this board and hard work by many," Samford said. "While the board has been criticized severely, Auburn University today is a better institution both academically and fiscally."
Redfields receive AU award
From left, authors Salle and James Redfield receive the President's Award for Humanitarian Service from AU President William Muse. The annual award recognizes Auburn alumni who have made exceptional service to humanity. The Redfields have developed a worldwide following for books such as The Celestine Prophecy which examine spirituality in the modern world.
Journalism, Communication departments to merge in 2001
The departments of Journalism and Communication will be merged in the fall 2001 semester, following action Monday by the AU Board of Trustees.
A team of faculty in those departments will spend the next year working out details of the merger. Led by College of Liberal Arts Dean John Heilman, the transition team will address issues related to unit name, organizational structure, curriculum management, budgetary structure and personnel decisions.
The merger was recommended by Heilman and accepted by Provost William Walker and President William Muse before going to the board. The two departments were among 16 that failed to meet criteria established in January for creation of new departments. Nineteen were originally listed, but some were undergoing merger before the review began. At the board's request, the administration reviewed existing departments that did not meet the criteria.
Heilman, citing merger discussions going back 10 years, said he expects the merger of Journalism and Communication to strengthen the academic quality of programs in both departments.
The Liberal Arts dean cited support for the merger from a consulting team of visiting scholars and accreditation agency officials led by Will Norton Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska.
A merger could strengthen both departments, the consultants said, if the faculties of both departments are willing to work together and the college takes designated steps to enhance the new unit.
The two departments in Liberal Arts were the only ones to receive a dean's recommendation for merger. The administration and trustees concurred with deans' recommendations to retain the other departments in their current structure.
Provost William Walker said most departments that were reviewed should be continued because of their ties to industries, their roles in research and graduate studies and other elements of their mission.
The College of Agriculture request for continuation in their present structure of four of its departments -- Biosystems Engineering, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, and Poultry Science -- noted that changes could come later from an internal review that the college is conducting. The college's review will examine its entire administrative structure, including all eight academic departments.
The board accepted an administration proposal to modify the guidelines
for future designation of departments. The modifications, recommended
by the University Senate's Academic Program Review Committee, are:
* Expand the requirement for at least one baccalaureate to add: "or entry level or first professional" degree program.
* Expand the requirement for a minimum to at least fifty majors in the department to add: "or a number of FTEs comparable to the average number of FTEs for similar departments at Auburn's peer institutions."
* Expand the requirement for a minimum student credit hour production of at least 5,000 per academic year to add: "or a number of student credit hours produced by similar departments at Auburn's peer institutions unless the department's mission is primarily research and outreach."
AU grants tuition benefit to GTAs
Starting this fall, graduate teaching assistants will no longer have to pay in-state tuition fees.
A resolution approved Monday by the AU Board of Trustees will make Auburn more competitive in recruiting GTAs, said Provost William Walker, who told the trustees that Auburn was the only major comprehensive university in the Southeast that did not waive the charge for its GTAs.
Walker said Auburn is competitive in its pay for GTAs but has difficulty competing with other institutions because of the effect of tuition on their net income. He noted that although AU pays its GTAs $9,900 a year -- $200 more than GTAs earn at the University of Alabama -- Auburn students have to pay $2,900 back to the university as in-state tuition.
The tuition benefit for GTAs had been a major goal of the Graduate School and the University Senate. The university had previously granted GTAs in state status for tuition, but other universities had dropped the requirement altogether. With removal of the tuition requirement, Auburn will be able to recruit high quality graduate students as GTAs to improve the quality of undergraduate instruction and graduate research, Walker said.
About 600 GTAs are expected to receive the benefit, which is offset partially by a $200 semester enrollment fee for GTAs. The fee is similar to that charged at other Southeastern institutions.
University boosts its match for employee annuity fund
Faculty and staff will be able to add extra money to supplemental retirement accounts and get a university match following action Monday by the AU Board of Trustees.
The university will increase its match for employee contributions to the Tax Deferred Annuity Program by $150 annually starting next Jan. 1, under a resolution approved by the board.
The maximum university match will increase to $1,050 per year for the annuity program. Employees who contribute up to 5 percent of the first $21,000 of income during 2001 will receive an equal amount from the university in their account. The current maximum is $18,000.
Faculty and staff paid on a 12-month basis will have the opportunity of raising their contribution from the current $75 per month to $87.50, with the university matching that amount.
This is the fifth time the matching annuity has been increased since it was established in 1970. The matching provision is open to all fulltime employees who have been on the job for five or more years.
More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil in Samford Park on Thursday night to honor two stabbing victims -- Changqing Chen and Yi Wu -- who were slain at their apartment near campus on May 29. Chen was a graduate student, while his wife had applied for admission to AU as a graduate student.
AU expresses grief over deaths of student and wife
AU President Willam Muse expressed the university's grief and shock at the stabbing death on May 29 of a Chinese graduate student and his wife.
Changqing Chen, who was working on a doctorate in textile engineering, and wife Yi Wu, who had applied for admission to Graduate School, were found dead at their apartment just one block from campus.
"Our international students are very dear to us," said Muse. "We extend the hearts and prayers of the Auburn family to the families of Changqing and Yi half a world away in this time of tragedy, shock and grief. In addition to working with the families, we are committed to helping students and others in Auburn cope with the losses we have suffered."
More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil in Samford Park on Thursday night to honor the couple.
Gov. Don Siegelman has authorized a state reward of $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant.
AU will pay the travel expenses of five members of the victims' families to fly to the United States from China.
Record number expected for spring graduation
Auburn will award an estimated 2,220 academic degrees at two separate spring quarter commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 10.
Depending on the final numbers, AU's spring 2000 class could be its largest ever, eclipsing the record 2,031 degrees awarded in spring 1992. Auburn fell just short of its all-time graduation record in June 1999, when it awarded 1,990 degrees.
The two ceremonies this year will begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Of the degrees AU will award, 1,963 are bachelor's degrees, 206 are master's degrees, 49 are doctorates and two are specialist's degrees.
Students in the colleges of Engineering, Sciences and Mathematics, Liberal Arts and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will receive their degrees in the 10 a.m. ceremony. Graduates of the colleges and schools of Agriculture, Business, Education, Human Sciences, Nursing and Architecture, Design and Construction will be awarded degrees at 2 p.m.
As usual, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Pharmacy will hold separate ceremonies.
The College of Liberal Arts will award the most undergraduate degrees with 420, followed by the College of Business with 400 and the College of Engineering with 276.
The College of Education will award 201 degrees, the College of Sciences and Mathematics 127, the College of Architecture, Design and Construction 114, the College of Agriculture 106, the College of Human Sciences 89, the College of Veterinary Medicine 88, the School of Nursing 80, the School of Pharmacy 39 and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences 23.
Auburn prepares to enter final quarter on June 14
With the start of summer quarter on June 14, there are 37 class days remaining before Auburn launches into the semester system.
Summer term 2000 is the last under the quarter system. On Aug. 22, more than three years of planning, preparing and curriculum designing comes to a head as Auburn begins fall 2000 under the semester system.
Summer 2000 is an eight-week quarter. To ensure an academically viable term, class meeting times have been extended. What typically has been a 50-minute class under the quarter system is being extended to a 60 minute class for this summer term.
Summer 2000 runs June 14-Aug. 8, with final exams scheduled for Aug. 9 11. Special Saturday labs are scheduled on June 24, July 8, 15, 22 and 29, and Aug. 5. Classes meet as follows: Morning sessions: 7-8; 8:10-9:10; 9:20-10:20; 10:30-11:30;11:40-12:40. Afternoon/evening sessions: 12:50 1:50; 2-3; 3:10-4:10; 4:20-5:20; 5:30-6:30; 6:40-7:40; 7:50-8:50; 9-10.
Students transitioning from the quarter system to the semester system are urged by the Provost's Office to take a nominal 15-hour course load under the semester system to ensure that they remain on a timely track for completing their degree requirements.
Students in Camp War Eagle this summer are registering for semester classes and will be the first class to attend under the semester system for their entire degree program.
More information about Auburn's semester transition can be found on the semester transition web site.
Employees of the Year
Four AU employees were presented Spirit of Excellence Awards for 2000 as AU employees of the year in a ceremony hosted by Human Resources on May 24. Recipients are, from left, Comer Mask of Facilities, Sonja Payne of Telecommunications, Lloyd Albert of Facilities and Cedron Wynn of Telecommunications. The awards recognize the most outstanding service to the university during the year by staff and professional employees.
Short stay turned into 51 years and counting
Doris Brown Gardner planned to stay a couple of years when she went to work as a typist in the Poultry Science Department at Alabama Polytechnic Institute but liked the people and the work, so she decided to stay a little longer. "A little longer" turned into 51 years and counting.
Now the department's office manager, Gardner was honored for more than five decades of service to Auburn University at an employee awards ceremony on May 24. In addition, state Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, presented her with a resolution of commendation from the Alabama Legislature. Although pleased with the honors, Gardner says the best part of her years at Auburn has been the day-to-day interaction with peers, students, faculty and visitors in the Poultry Science Department.
Since joining the department in the College of Agriculture on April 1, 1949, Gardner has seen two department heads retire and remembers Robert Brewer, Poultry Science Department head since 1987, from his days as a graduate student in the department. Brewer, who left Auburn to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia and later returned, has been an AU faculty member for 32 years.
One of the pleasures of the job, Gardner says, is seeing former students return decades later as major executives or professionals within the poultry industry. "I have really enjoyed seeing them mature as students and go out into their jobs and then come back years later as leaders in the industry."
Brewer said Gardner's enthusiasm has never waned. "Her enthusiasm for the job and the department is still as vital today as in the first 10 years she was here," he said. "That is very unusual in any environment, and it is greatly appreciated by those of us in the department."
Since Gardner started, Poultry Science at Auburn has grown from a handful of students to approximately 60, and the faculty from three to 15, many of whom are heavily involved in research for Alabama's largest agricultural industry. The poultry industry accounts for more than 57 percent of agricultural income in the state and has an economic impact of $8 billion annually.
Gardner went to work in the department soon after settling in the late 1940s with her husband Austin on their farm on Shelton Road in north Auburn. She had planned to work a couple of years and quit to raise a family, but when she became pregnant with her first child three years later, the department head, Dale King, persuaded her to take a leave of absence instead. She did the same for the births of four more children, always returning to the job that she had originally intended to be temporary.
While Doris worked on campus and Austin ran the farm, they sent all five children through Auburn city schools and on to college and careers and families of their own. A fulltime mother and farm wife away from the job, Doris Gardner said she discovered that she could balance work and a homelife and found both to be fulfilling.
Gardner said she found a career home in the Poultry Science Department because of
the family-type atmosphere that was especially prominent in the early days.
"It was a very small department, and everyone was like family," she recalled. "The department is larger now, along with the entire university, and everything moves so much faster, so there's not as much closeness today. I miss that but I still enjoy working with the people."
Although the university is developing plans for a new Poultry Science building to replace the cramped quarters on Ag Hill, Gardner still considers the 40-year-old facility the "new building." For her first 10 years on the job, the department was housed at the present site of the Poultry Annex south of campus.
Gardner says she is astounded by the growth of the Auburn campus from 5,000 students to 22,000 and by the continuing expansion of the physical plant. For most students, names such as Funchess, Rouse and Draughon identify buildings, but for Gardner, the names bring to mind people she once associated with her job. "A lot of buildings are named for people that were here while I have been working at Auburn, so I think about them when I see the buildings."
A secretarial school graduate when she arrived at Auburn, the Talladega native said she is happy to see more women entering careers that were almost exclusively male until recent decades. Now, for instance, one-sixth of Poultry Science students are women. "There's a lot of jobs for women that didn't used to be there," she said.
Another major change, she says, has been the rapid acceptance of new technologies as a part of everyday life. Quick to learn new technologies, Gardner manages the office's computer programs for administration and student records.
"I started out pounding away on a manual typewriter, and I thought it was really something when we went to electric typewriters," she said. "Then along came computers, and it is amazing what you can do with them. I never dreamed that technology would come to this."
Gardner expects to retire in the near future, but she is undecided whether to take the step this year or wait a year or two. She has promised Brewer that even when she does retire, she will continue to work parttime for the department. "I don't think I could just walk away from it," she said.
Rocking good time
Dora Lockhart of Housing and Residence Life tries out a gift she received on May 24 in recognition of her 40 years as an AU employee. The rocking chair was a surprise gift during a ceremony hosted by the Department of Human Resources to celebrate years of service by university employees.
Vet Medicine completes site preparation for new building
Site preparation has been completed for the College of Veterinary Medicine's new 150,000-square-foot large animal teaching hospital.
"The site is ready and hopefully we can begin awarding construction contracts sometime in late summer," said Dwight Wolfe, head of the Department of Large Animal Surgery and Medicine. "The time frame depends on state and private funding. Right now, we're using the funds that we have already raised to begin the project."
The College of Veterinary Medicine is raising private funds to go with $7.5 million committed by the state and $7.5 million from the university. "Private donations are very important at this point," said Timothy Boosinger, dean of the college. "The sooner we complete the fundraising, the sooner we can proceed with additional construction phases."
The complex will include a modern hospital, equine and cattle barns, admissions office, and a dual-track equine lameness arena. Plans also include renovation and upgrading of McAdory Hall.
Pharmacy receives grant to help with facilities growth
The School of Pharmacy has received a $250,000 grant from the Institute for the Advancement of Community Pharmacy to expand and renovate its facilities. The work will accommodate an increase in student enrollment.
The grant is one of 21 totaling $4.7 million over the next five years announced by the Institute. They are designed to increase the number of graduates going into community pharmacy.
Lee Evans, dean of the AU School of Pharmacy, said the money would be used primarily to develop more space for the school. "The two things that we need to address in order to expand and enhance our program to train more students are add personnel and space," he said. "With this type of onetime money, you can't really address personnel, so the most effective way to spend it is to enhance space and step up recruitment efforts."
Calvin Anthony, the co-chair of the Institute and executive vice president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said the aim of the grants is excellence in community pharmacy.
"These grants will provide additional resources for pharmacy students to receive
more exposure to community pharmacy practice and realize the vast opportunities
to provide patient care services in community pharmacies," he said.
Auburn's was one of 10 schools of pharmacy receiving grants for expansion of existing programs. In addition, five grants were awarded for development of new schools of pharmacy and six for innovative courses or enhanced curricula in community pharmacy practice.
Susan Smith elected president of ACLA
Susan Smith, AU's director of trademark licensing, has been elected president of the Association of Collegiate Licensing Administrators for 2000-2001.
The Association of Collegiate Licensing Administrators is the international association of collegiate licensing administrators, licensees, individuals, and organizations affiliated with collegiate licensing whose purpose is to foster the growth and development of collegiate licensing and the competence of its practitioners.
Smith, who holds bachelor's degrees from AU and the University of Southern Mississippi and a master's degree from Auburn, has been employed at AU since 1984 and in her current position since 1988.
Swamidass named encyclopedia editor
Paul Swamidass, professor of management at Auburn, is the editor of the newly published Encyclopedia of Production and Manufacturing Management.
The encyclopedia, published by Kluwer Academic Publishers of Norwell, Mass., is reference work for management in the manufacturing industry. It includes the most recent technical and strategic innovations in production and management manufacturing.
Swamidass, who is also associate director of the AU-based Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management, was responsible for editing about 100 articles written by experts from around the world.
AU faculty who contributed articles to the encyclopedia included J.T. Black, former professor of industrial engineering who is now retired; Patrick McMullen, an assistant professor of management; Amitava Mitra, associate dean of the College of Business; and Swamidass.
Library to offer seminars on Internet use
Seminars to be offered this summer by AU Libraries will attempt to help faculty, staff and graduate students surf the Internet with ease.
Two sessions for each of the three seminars are planned for June and July and were the outgrowth of focus group studies from last year, said Marcia Boosinger, chair of Reference and Institution Services at Ralph Brown Draughon Library.
"What we found out from several focus groups last year is that faculty come with their classes to the library but we heard from them that they would like more instruction focused on faculty needs," she said. "We also thought it was important to include staff, since many of them use the Internet in the course of doing their job."
The seminars will focus on three areas: Electronic Journals in the Sciences and
Engineering; Electronic Journals in the Social Sciences; and Statistical Resources on
the Web. All sessions will be held in the first floor instruction lab of the library.
All seminars are free to AU faculty, staff and graduate students, but advance registration is required by completing the online registration form. Persons registering will receive an e-mail confirmation.
A space will be reserved for each person requesting to attend, so Boosinger says it is important that if a person has to cancel to call Library Instruction Services at 844 1759.
* Electronic Journals in the Sciences & Engineering will be offered Thursday, June 22, at 3 p.m. and Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. The AU Libraries offers a wealth of full text journal articles directly available from the computer in your office. Joan Shedivy, science and technology reference librarian, will teach participants about electronic journals and how to access them from the library's web page; how to use AUBIECat to link to databases with full-text articles; and to create a list of electronic journals in a subject area.
* Electronic Journals in the Social Sciences will be held Thursday, July 13, at 3 p.m.,
and Friday, July 14, at 10 a.m. Jim Jenkins, a social sciences reference librarian, will
show participants electronic journals in the Social Sciences and how to access them
from the library's web page and how to use AUBIECat to link to databases with full
text articles and to create a list of electronic journals in a subject area.
Subject areas of the social sciences include: political science, economics, business, history, law, anthropology, sociology, education, psychology, geography and communication.
* Statistical Resources on the Web will be taught Thursday, July 27, at 3 p.m., and Friday, July 28, at 10 a.m.. Barbara Bishop, microforms and documents reference librarian, will teach participants how to learn more about statistical and demographic data available on the web. Both fee and free websites will be discussed and demonstrations of Statistical Universe and StatUSA (NTDB) will be included.
Marching in review
Auburn ROTC cadets from all the military services march in review at the annual President's Day ceremony on May 25. More than 35 students in Air Force, Army and Navy/Marine ROTC units and their service auxiliaries at Auburn received awards from AU President William Muse and service representatives during the ceremony.
R.C. Tang, professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, was invited by the Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems, National Science Foundation, to serve as a member in the Review Panel for the Program of Advanced Technologies for Housings held in April in Arlington, Va.
P.K. Raju, professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Laboratory for Innovative Technology and Engineering Education, was a panelist at an MIT workshop in April on "Mechanical Engineering Education in the Information Age." Other invited speakers were from MIT, Purdue and the University of California at Berkeley. Raju made a presentation on LITEE, a joint project of the AU colleges of Business and Engineering that uses multimedia case studies to bring real world issues into engineering classrooms.
Thomas Capo, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, received the Richard M. Griffth Memorial Award for Psychology for a paper, "A rapidly developing, nonstrategic visual familiarity effect," he presented at the 92nd annual meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology recently in Atlanta. The Society gives out two Griffith awards each year, one in Psychology and one in Philosophy. This is the first time the Griffith Memorial Award has been won by someone representing Auburn University.
Southern Living Cooking School set for June 8
There will be two presentations of the Southern Living Cooking School on Thursday, June 8, at the AU Student Activity Center. The presentations, which mark the 25th anniversary of the magazine's cooking school, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. are part of a community effort to raise funds for a larger shelter for victims of domestic violence in East Alabama. Tickets are $10 for the fundraiser and are available the door and in advance at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and several local merchants. For more information, call 749-9284.
Vendor exhibit set for Friday
AU's 2000 Vendor Exhibit will be from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, June 9, at the Dixon Conference Center. Exhibitors will present their latest lines of office equipment, computers, cellular phones, audiovisual equipment, applications, services and supplies. For more information contact the Purchasing Department at 844-4625.
BC/BS representative on campus
AU's Blue Cross/Blue Shield representative will be on campus in Ingram 212 from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesday, June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8 to meet with faculty and staff who have questions or need assistance concerning their BC/BS insurance coverage. No appointment is necessary.
Child Study Center enrolling students
Classes are forming for the 2000-01 school year at the Child Study Center, a halfday preschool for children ages 2.5 to 6. Contact Margaret Vollenweider at 844-4696 for enrollment information.
Workshop set on child development
A workshop for professionals and students set for June 15 at Dixon Conference Center will examine the importance of a child's early experiences and how those experiences can affect success of development at school. The workshop, set for Thursday, June 15, will feature Sharon Ramey and Craig Ramey, founding directors of the Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to understanding the process of human development and treating and preventing learning and related biological and social disabilities. The one-day workshop is sponsored by AU's Psychological Services Center, the Department of Psychology and the Alabama Psychological Association.
Foundation endows new fellowship
Auburn is offering a new fellowship for undergraduates in agriculture and related fields.
The fellowship, supported by an endowment fund established with the Auburn University Foundation, is intended for students enrolled in agriculture, forestry, wildlife, zoology, botany, food technology, pre-veterinary medicine and other agriculture-related courses of study. The fellowships will allow students to study abroad and encourage and enable firsthand experiences in global agriculture, enhancing the participants' understanding of the challenges and opportunities for U.S. agriculture in today's global marketplace.
Students may obtain academic credit for fellowships through the AU Study Abroad program or through programs organized by other U.S. or foreign colleges or universities. Fellowships may include formally structured educational experiences, internships or cooperative work assignments.
Applications are available at the office of the dean of the College of Agriculture in 107 Comer Hall, or at the AU Study Abroad Exchange Office, 201 Hargis Hall.
Campus Views: Lights, camera, Powerpoint
By Herbert Jack Rotfeld, Professor of Marketing
If you talk on the telephone while driving your car, even if you are using a hands free microphone-and-speaker system you increase the probability of being involved in an accident. I have yet to meet the person who can talk to others in the room while programming the VCR. It is therefore illogical to expect maximal use of classroom technology to always improve an instructor's ability to hold an intelligent interaction with students.
In theory, technology can make a presentation more interesting. However, it is easy for the equipment to distract the teacher instead of assisting.
Over two decades ago, I was amazed when a colleague proudly proclaimed that his doctoral studies included a minor in "Audio Visual Communications." A doctorate that also included courses in running a film projector? But I had to admit when I saw him in action, he used all available technology. With films, tape players, slides and a well-honed "act," he taught principles of marketing in the biggest room on campus, with eight term-long "shows" every year, and he was winning all of the student groups' teaching awards. From an entertainment point of view, he was the David Copperfield to the rest of us who were clumsy street magicians teaching the advanced classes.
But this colleague was teaching the same introductory-level course time after time. New preparations were not an issue. And, more importantly, a graduate student ran all of his equipment, a luxury that few faculty could ever claim. Most of us live the other extreme (and in some classrooms, faculty must also allocate time to tote equipment to the lecture).
In our video MBA program, students view recorded class meetings so they can take courses without spending time on campus. In one state-of-the art video classroom, instructors control a computer which can show a Powerpoint display to the full television monitor or project it on a screen. There is a VCR below the table and a document camera on top, allowing me to show students the latest advertisements I might encounter to help illustrate my marketing topic. One camera focuses on students while they participate in discussion and a camera at the rear tracks the teacher by following an infrared element in the microphone. And all of this is controlled and switched by sequences of icons pushed on a portable touch screen display that I can carry with me as I move around the room.
Of course, using technology means my attention is on the control panel. And I am supposed to do all of these things, or a subset of them, while running a lecture, answering questions from students and generating some classroom discussion in this advanced graduate class.
Almost every professional presentation I have seen has someone designated to handle the visuals no matter how simple they might be. Playing with technology is a distraction, as I noticed when one of my students took a phone call while walking out the door and promptly walked into another student in the hall.
And, of course, there are the "technical problems."
As presenters shifted from using transparencies to Powerpoint or other computer
programs, the Advertising Research Foundation added 15 minutes to the breaks
between each session to allow people to set up the new computer configurations.
When I last testified at government hearings, my reliance on transparencies instead
of computers made me the only person who did not lose half my allotted time to some assorted glitch....
Of course, I wonder why many presenters bother with the computer generated graphics. Most aren't any more interesting than a simple transparency. The speaker stops in the lecture while hunting for the mouse and waiting for the screen to change -- even the fastest machines still seem maddeningly slow to refresh screens -- and then he or she stands in front of the beautiful graphic, arms waiving like a demented weather forecaster instead of using a laser pointer or the program's mouse pointer.
Just because a technique is possible does not mean it has to be used. The purpose of
the class is an intelligent focus between instructor and students, so when the
technology shuts down thinking, it should not be used.
This week's Unsung Hero is Chris Nelson, building maintenance technician at Foy Student Union. He has been at AU for nearly 23 years and in his current position for one year. He was asked:
What do you do in your current job? "Supervisor of Union Building specialists. I also do maintenance in Foy Union."
What is the most rewarding part of your job? "Completing work tasks and having someone tell you that you did a good job."
What is the most challenging part of your job? "Employees needing my assistance
at the same time I'm trying to solve other maintenance problems."
If you were not doing this job, what would you most like to do? "Some type of job involving high performance engines or any type of auto racing."
What makes Auburn special? "Having been employed here so many years. I've made so many friends and met lots of nice people. Having their friendship means a lot."
What was your first impression of Auburn University? "My father worked at AU for 39 years, so I got to know the campus at an early age. My father would bring me to football and basketball games or just to visit him at work. To a small kid, the large stadium and beautiful campus were awesome."
How has that impression changed? "It hasn't. The university just gets larger in the number of students each year."
What do you like to do when not at work? "Mud racing with my family and being active in my local volunteer fire department."
What person or persons do you most admire and why? "My mother and father. Mother, the heart of the family, was always concerned with everyone's well-being and giving so much and never concerned with what so little she received in return. Since my father passed away, I've grown to understand and realize the great values he taught me in life."
What is your favorite line from the Auburn Creed and why? "'I believe in honesty
and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my
fellow men.' My mother and father always taught us children to be honest and
Editor: Roy Summerford. Contributing editors: Bob Lowry, Janet McCoy and David Granger.
University Relations Executive Director: Pete Pepinsky. The AU Report is the faculty/staff newsletter of Auburn University and is published by the Office of University Relations at Auburn University. Direct correspondence to AU Report, 23 Samford Hall, Auburn University, Ala. 36849-5109.
Telephone 334/844-9999. Electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org