The house was packed in the Forum of the Ernst Community Cultural Center on Monday, August 20 as Annandale Campus Provost Dr. Pam Hilbert greeted faculty members with a Welcome Program as they returned to campus for the 2018 Fall semester.
She provided an overview of the NOVA’s restructuring and then introduced the dean of the new Languages, Arts and Social Sciences (LASS) Division, Jen Daniels, formerly dean of the Languages and Literature Division, and the dean of the new Mathematics, Sciences, Technology and Business (MSTB) Division, Dr. Abe Eftekhari, formerly Dean of the Mathematics, Science and Engineering Division.
Hilbert then introduced LASS Associate Deans Dr. Hemchand Gossai, Department of Social Sciences, Religion, and Philosophy; Jen Rainey, Department of Arts and Communication; Tonia Rodgers, Department of Languages; and Jay Steere, Department of English and Developmental English.
MSTB Associate Deans Rick Fiesel, Department of Business, Engineering, Computer Science and Technology; Dr. Mary Vander Maten, Department of Natural Sciences, Physical Education and Parks and Recreation; Dr. Karen Walters, Department of Math and Developmental Math; and Dr. Ben Wang, Department of Physical Sciences, Administration of Justice, and Hospitality Management were also in attendance.
Gossai gave a presentation on “The First Lecture,” a condensed version of a presentation he made at the 2018 VCCS New Horizons Conference, in which he focused on the ethos of teaching and belonging in the classroom. “The critical importance that we have as teachers,” he said, “is to ensure that we meet students where they are and guide them to where they need to be.”
He examined the origins of several words commonly used in education, including “excellent.” Derived from the Latin excellēns, which means elevated or exalted. Gossai said that to be excellent is to reach to the heavens. “That is height of our calling;” he said, “this is what we aim for, not only in words, but action.”
He emphasized the importance across every discipline of civility in the classroom, so that students understand the value of being civilized in their discourse and are taught to always be in pursuit of the ideal of excellence. “Education is never to be kept to ourselves,” Gossai said. “It must always be shared. Education should make us all want to be better persons. That too is an essential quality that we pursue as educators.”
Dr. Ritu Kansal, associate professor of chemistry and a member of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Core Team, then discussed ATD initiatives for the coming academic year. The initiatives include a Provost Forum on September 21, a workshop on Transparency in Learning and Teaching, a student panel, a workshop on the Inclusive Teaching Environment, and a college-wide workshop on Writing Across the Curriculum.
After the presentations, LASS and MSTB faculty split into divisional meetings with a campus-wide faculty dinner in the evening, followed by departmental meetings with faculty. It was a long, but productive day for the Annandale Campus faculty as they prepared for the start of the 2018 Fall semester.