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Provost Beth Dobkin praised the College's faculty for its scholarship during 2008 at a reception in Saint Albert Hall Library on Friday evening. The past year's scholarly achievements ranged from published books and articles to prestigious national arts awards and a selection to lead a national science education initiative.

The evening's remarks also highlighted several ways in which the College will provide greater support to faculty members in their scholarly pursuits. Vice President for Development Keith Brant announced that a full-time grant writer would be hired to assist faculty in writing proposals and securing and managing grants and contracts.

The Provost also announced changes in the leadership of faculty development. Starting in the fall, Vice President for Mission and Dean for Faculty Development Carole Swain will focus primarily on mission-related activities. Facilitation of faculty development will shift to the new position of faculty director, which will focus on workshops, events and curricular programs for new and senior faculty members.

"What we want to do is put together a program that has structured workshops and discussions for the younger faculty, who need the development, and also provides resources for the more senior faculty so they can become re-energized and can get a jumpstart on new projects," Dobkin said. Next year Dobkin hopes to implement more internal grant opportunities for research, innovative teaching and curricular development.

Dobkin encouraged faculty members to consider creating a scholarly center or institute, and noted a new process authorized by the Academic Senate for approving these endeavors.

"What this does, I hope, is give you the opportunity to dream," Dobkin said. She directed faculty members to her web page for information on creating proposals. "We have some wonderful centers on campus, but how to start one is sometimes a little-known secret." With protocols for starting a center or institute clearly defined, Dobkin hopes the process will be easier for more faculty members.

Additionally, Dobkin pointed to a growing trend and culture of graduate education at Saint Mary's. "We have growth in graduate enrollments. We have joined the council of graduate schools. All of this shows that we are solid and we are strong in our graduate and our undergraduate education."

Dobkin said that it's important to continue the tradition of the formally acknowledging faculty achievements, even during times of belt tightening. "The reason is out of respect for you, and to show you just how valuable we think this event is and how important your accomplishments are," said Dobkin. "It is a moment of celebration and accomplishment that I think that we should preserve."

Joining Dobkin in hosting the Seventh Annual Scholars Reception was Vice Provost Frances Sweeney, Dean for Academic Resources Tom Carter and Deans Roy Allen, Nancy Sorenson, Steve Woolpert and Brian Jersky, who was unable to attend.

Reflecting on 2008's scholarly achievements and new initiatives that are underway to assist faculty, the provost was optimistic about the future. "We are really poised for even greater things. I encourage you to keep working and keep dreaming, and I thank you for all that you have brought to Saint Mary's."

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