January 9, 2002
In this issue

Submit your ideas

NMU Logo

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Highlights Diversity

Several activities are planned Jan. 15-21 at NMU to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. Bill Hill (Diversity Student Services, pictured left) encourages broad participation on the part of faculty, staff and students.

“Special events like this are not intended primarily for students of color; everyone will be richer for the exposure,” Hill said. “We owe our students a multicultural experience. If they leave here without it, they might leave with a degree but they will be short an education.”

Isolated activities such as choral concerts and campus marches are valuable in their own right and draw attention to diversity issues, but Hill said they do not go far enough in creating a welcoming environment. April Lindala (Diversity Student Services) agrees that the university’s success in recruiting and retaining minority students relies on a steady, campus-wide commitment. “Colleges are seen as agents of change, so it makes sense to start here and then work out to the local community,” Lindala added.

As part of Northern’s magnified focus on diversity, consultant Frances Kendall visited campus last month to make presentations to student and employee groups. “Her visit opened the floodgates of dialogue, but there is work to be done,” Hill said. “The next step is to develop a comprehensive diversity plan to move the university forward.”

Elements of that plan include the following: making diversity part of student and new employee orientation programs; infusing multicultural material into the curriculum; and designing awareness or training programs for faculty and staff. Diversity Student Services plans four public forums this semester to continue the dialogue sparked by Kendall’s visit.

Hill said, “She asked the majority population to answer the question, ‘What does it mean to be white at NMU?’ Her point was that, if people can’t answer that, there’s no way they can think beyond that frame of reference and begin to have dialogue with people who are different and understand what their experience here is like. Interjecting different ideas, asking people to take self inventory, and implying a need for changes makes some people uncomfortable. But that’s the point of issue here – dealing with perceptions and preconceived notions so we can begin the process of changing attitudes and behaviors.”

For a schedule of activities planned during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, visit MLK Activities.

Campus Briefs

Upgrades ...

Olson Library is in the process of upgrading its online catalog. Krista Clumpner (Library) said it is part of a continual cycle of improvements.

Software is normally upgraded once a year, resulting in improvements to some aspect of the system. “This particular upgrade will allow us to enter purchase information more efficiently,” she said. “It also includes some nice improvements to the public side of the system known as WebVoyage."

Changes impacting online catalog searches include:

-Adding color to the pages to help in grouping information;
-Adding the call number and location to the same page as title information, which should reduce the need to click to another page if that is the only information you want;
-Adding more specific help information that patrons can click on, based on student feedback reported by reference librarians;
-Redesigning the page so it is more concise and the Limit box is more apparent; and
-Removing tabs that are not functional and gradually reinstating them as the staff develops the functionality of the system (the tabs were there before but did not work).

Renovations ...

Renovations to the first floor of the Learning Resource Center began Dec. 10. According to Carl Pace (Facilities Operations), the project will create an indoor student gathering space with 150 seats, an outside patio area, an expanded Writing Center, a satellite tutoring program, office space for Academic Information Services and expanded computer server services.

Audio-Visual Services will move to the first floor and some offices will move to ground level.

Clark Construction of Marquette is the contractor. The $2.2 million project is scheduled to be completed in October.

Changes ...

The NMU Board of Control changed its name to the NMU Board of Trustees, effective Jan. 1.

Workshops to Focus on Active Learning

Educators agree that active learning is more effective than passive learning, but why does so little of the former actually occur in a typical classroom? Two in-service workshops at NMU will explore the energizing promise of active learning and explain how to implement this technique in large classes.

Charles Bonwell will serve as the presenter. As an instructional consultant, he has facilitated more than 190 workshops nationally and internationally on active learning and critical thinking. He is co-author of the best-selling ASHE-ERIC monograph “Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom.” Bonwell directed Centers for Teaching and Learning at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Southeast Missouri State University. He received a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from Stanford and a Ph.D. in the history of science and technology from Kansas State University.

The workshops are sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee and endorsed by Academic Affairs. Faculty with a class schedule conflict may choose to find an alternative way to meet instructional responsibilities in order to attend. Here are brief summaries of each session:

Active Learning: Energizing the Classroom
2-5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, Cadillac and Brule Rooms of the University Center

This interactive workshop will answer the following questions: What is active learning? Why is active learning important? What barriers prevent faculty from using active learning strategies? How can these barriers be overcome? The session will also model ways for faculty to transform students from passive listeners to active learners. Particular emphasis is placed on lessening the risk of using active learning in the classroom.

Lively Lectures: Engaging Students in Large Classes
9 a.m. – Noon, Friday, Jan. 25, Jamrich Hall 216

Financial constraints have forced many institutions to expand class size at the very time educators are calling for an increased emphasis on active learning. This workshop explores the special problems and issues associated with introducing active learning into large classroom lectures. It will examine the strengths and limitations of lectures, look at the research on making lectures more effective and help participants select active learning strategies that are appropriate for large lectures within the context of their needs and the course goals.

Please register for one or both sessions by Friday, Jan. 18. Contact Mike Strahan (Library) at 2463 or mstrahan@nmu.edu.