2021 Fall CAS Newsletter

STAFF New to the NSU Foundation FACULTY SPOTLIGHT CAS Distinguished Faculty Award DR. VIRGINIA “GINNY” LEWIS is the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Faculty Award for academic year 2020-2021. Dr. Lewis, a language faculty member in the Department of Languages, Literature and Communication Studies, arrived at NSU in 2005. “Since her arrival, Dr. Lewis has proven an invaluable colleague and a popular and highly regarded professor,” notes current Department Chair Dr. Elizabeth Haller. She is passionate about language learning and scholarship and is deeply committed to her students. Dr. Lewis is fluent in multiple languages, providing education, curriculum development, and scholarship in German and French and translating Hungarian and German manuscripts. She is actively engaged in CAS strategic efforts, serving as co-chair for plan development and chair of research, and she is willing to serve in leadership roles, formerly serving as chair of the Department of Languages, Literature, and Communication Studies and now serving as a member of Graduate Council for the university. Further, she was integral in the development of the new Global Languages and Culture BA program, championing it throughout the development process. “Dr. Lewis’ contributions to NSU’s students, to the university and to the broader community, and to her profession are myriad and significant,” said Dr. Haller. Thank you, Dr. Lewis. The CAS appreciates you and your dedication to academia! Center for Public History and Civic Engagement FALL 2021 marks the inaugural year of the Center for Public History and Civic Engagement. The Center is directed by Professor of Government Jon D. Schaff. The Center coordinates activities that already exist at Northern, for example Constitution Day and National History Day, as well as promoting some of the archival resources owned by the Williams Library, such as an extensive collection of materials related to the history of Germans from Russia. The Center will also provide programming in the form of public events and speakers, addressing themes of regional history and increasing civic knowledge. “We have a growing sense that as a people we are not doing enough to promote historical and civic engagement,” says Prof. Schaff. “We hope that the Center for Public History and Civic Engagement can help address the need for us to think about who we’ve been, who we are, and who we want to be.” The Center is currently working on raising funds to engage in these activities. People should look for Center programming starting in spring term 2022. A Student’s Perspective: Trent Shuey, a History Education major TEACHING during the two and half semesters dominated by COVID protocols was rather unusual. Not all faculty or students had the same experience or approached teaching the same way, but here is how I approached the task. I chose to continue offering face-to-face instruction for those students who wanted it, and most of them did. I felt comfortable enough, with all of them in masks and maintaining social distance. Then I either posted online lectures that were already recorded, as well as lecture notes and other material, or I recorded lectures as I delivered them, making those recordings available online. I kept office hours via Zoom and of course communicated with students using phone and email. I had the option of wearing either a mask or a shield when teaching, and I chose the latter, which worked out fine. And how was it teaching this way? In a word, it was strange. Yes, I was glad I had the options I had, as it allowed me to be in a room with students, an environment in which I feel at home. However, making discussion work in my classrooms was quite difficult. Students were even more reluctant to speak than usual, even history majors and minors, who are by nature a chatty bunch. If they did speak in a classroom, big or small, hearing them was a challenge. How many times did I ask people to repeat themselves? Tests and papers were completed and submitted using computers. While this made it all touch-free—a plus in a pandemic—it also made adding comments harder; I couldn’t help but notice that I got fewer comments from my students, too. Getting to know them was also much more difficult. Just last week I had a person, a history major in my upper division class this term, in my office and I asked her where we had met, as her voice sounded familiar; it turned out that she had been in my introductory class last semester, and I failed to recognize her. When I walked into the MJ 204 classroom at 9 a.m. on the first day of class in the fall semester of 2021, and I saw the two dozen faces in front of me, I was thrilled. During the semesters that NSU operated under COVID–19 protocols it was not business as usual. Faculty had plenty of help making this rapid and deep transition; instructional design and tech services were busier than ever. But while the basic functioning of the university went forward, it didn’t feel much like Northern. There will be long-term changes as a result of this pandemic; things won’t exactly be the same as they were before, but I’m relieved to report that this semester Northern is back to feeling like Northern again. ONE ASPECT of education that was different during the pandemic was virtual learning. I had to learn new technologies and adapt to doing much of my learning off campus, which was difficult at times because if I had a burning question, I couldn’t just run to the instructor’s office and ask quickly; I had to hop on Zoom or email them, which sometimes took longer than I wished it did. When learning was in-person and socially distanced, we still had to rely on technology more because teachers couldn’t hand anything out and there was no group work because nobody could get close enough to be heard over the masks. Overall, compared to traditional college environment, learning during the pandemic was more isolated and relied more on lectures at the expense of personal interaction. TEACHING AND LEARNING DURING THE PANDEMIC A Teacher’s Perspective: Dr. Ric Dias, Professor of History AIMEE BURMESTER has joined the NSU Foundation as the Director of Development. She is excited to connect with alumni, parents, and friends to advance the mission of Northern State University. Prior to joining the Foundation team, Aimee has served as a Marketing Specialist at Kitchen Tune-Up, filled multiple roles in the athletic department at Presentation College, and spent numerous years as a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual. An Iowa native, Aimee earned a B.A. from Southwest Minnesota State University in Speech Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. She and her fiancé, John, reside in Aberdeen.