Faculty fellow to evaluate feasibility of potential interdisciplinary programs

Distinguished service professor Dennis Showers (pictured above) will enter into the role of faculty fellow in the spring 2018 semester. As faculty fellow, Showers will help to organize class clusters across multiple disciplines. (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)

Dennis Showers will assume the position of faculty fellow and will focus on creating a new integrative learning program pursuant to the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education. 

The position was created with oversight from the Office of the Provost to implement new interdepartmental changes, according to Showers. Showers’ role will officially begin in January, and he may have a proposal for new programs by the end of the academic year, according to Interim Associate Provost for Personnel and Diversity Kenneth Kallio.

“The position has been created for someone to work across the college rather than focusing on a particular department or program,” Showers said. “The purpose of this position is to look across the college for opportunities to do innovative programs … creating new interdisciplinary structures or programs.” 

GLOBE, a framework for the college’s curriculum, identifies integrative and applied learning as one of the three major educational outcomes the curriculum should include. Similarly, the position was created in response to the need to implement new programs and upgrade existing ones, Kallio said.

“It’s very important if you look at the academic programs that we offer, the majors … it’s pretty much the set of majors that we had going back to the ‘80s at least, and maybe earlier,” Kallio said. “There are new things out there, and we need to respond.” 

The position will allow Showers to work across various departments of the college independent of any specific responsibilities. The exact duties associated with this position are still in the process of being defined, but the college hopes to collaborate with other SUNY colleges and with the SUNY system on programming and other efforts, according to Showers. 

These changes are important to help students prepare for the workforce and other potential future career opportunities, while utilizing the resources the college currently has, according to Kallio. 

“We need to develop new academic programs that will be appealing to students, but also stay consistent with our liberal arts mission, as well as offer good programs to prepare students for … 21st century society,” Kallio said

One of the responsibilities of the job will be to take the lead on the creation of new initiatives, according to Showers. Kallio clarified that one example of a change would be if professors involved in teaching different statistics courses decided to form a group allowing students to take classes in applied statistics. 

“The college engaged in something called cluster hiring over the last couple of years,” Showers said. “But there really hasn’t been a collaborative overarching structure for that, to bring those people to do more than just providing service to departments, but actually taking the initiative to create things that make the college a different place.” 

The position is still in its defining stages, but the college is hoping to see key modifications by the end of the year, according to Kallio. 

“The college hopes that this position will foster a more collaborative environment between faculty and staff across the various departments of the college,” Showers said. “This is an opportunity for somebody to draw people into strategic conversations about what we know and what we do really well. We want to take a look at who can we be and what could we do in addition to what we’re currently doing.”


News editor Malachy Dempsey contributed reporting to this article.