tl;dr version: Jeff got a new job.
As of May, I will have been chair of the Department of History and American Studies for six years. In that time, I’ve published a monograph, been promoted to full professor, published several articles/essays, presented at over 40 conferences and workshops, was a part of the team of professional term paper writers and served on countless committees and review boards on and off campus.
But I am particularly proud of my department over the same time: over 1/3 of my colleagues have been awarded tenure, they have published 5 books (and counting), 35+ scholarly articles & book chapters, & 30 reviews/short essays served on 45 professional organization committees, including as book series editors/members of editorial boards, as conference program or book prize reviewers, & as officers (including two presidents) of professional organizations, they have presented at hundreds of conferences, and served as at least as many committee years. We have established a program that has a two-semester methods class and integrates concepts of digital identity and digital fluency more deeply than any other history and American Studies program I have seen. We have created 45+ new courses in that time and we contribute to 12 majors and minors, including new programs in Women’s & Gender Studies, Museum Studies, Urban Studies, Social Justice and Digital Studies. I don’t pretend that my tenure as chair resulted in this amazing productivity of these teacher-scholars, but I do know that I’ve worked as chair to help support and serve them in that mission and I’m proud to call them colleagues.
I am also incredibly proud of our students. We have an amazing set of History and American Studies students with a track record of creating rich digital projects, a decades-long streak of student winners of the campus writing contest, Phi Beta Kappa membership, earning departmental honors, publishing senior theses, and of students going on to graduate school (70% do within 5-10 years) and finding terrific professional positions. Perhaps more importantly, they are thoughtful, smart, engaged people, many of whom are already making contributions to their chosen fields.
All of this is to say that I’m in an awesome department, one that I’ve been honored to serve as the chair of for the last six years. But it’s also time to move on, if not from the department, then from my chairing of it. If you read my blog or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you know that I’ve been particularly passionate about the intersection of teaching and technology for over a decade. I’ve been offered an opportunity to follow that passion and at the school that I continue to cherish.
As of May, I will step down as department chair and begin my new job as UMW’s Special Assistant to the Provost for Teaching, Technology, and Innovation. This new position is a half-time teaching position, so I will still get to work with students in my classes each semester. But the rest of my time will be focused on the ways that technology, teaching, and research intersect and lead to innovation at UMW and beyond. Specifically, I will be working with the directors of UMW’s terrific Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (Mary Kayler) and the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (Jim Groom). [A privilege since both have been making me and many other UMW faculty look cutting-edge for years.] I’ll also be collaborating with IT, Speaking Center, Writing Center, Library, Events, and Student Affairs to get the new Information Technology Convergence Center up and running.
I’ll also have the following responsibilities*:
- Lead strategic planning to ensure excellence and impact of innovative use of technology to forward the teaching and learning mission of the University;
- Partner with faculty and staff to develop and prioritize initiatives;
- Oversee continuing development of UMW’s distance learning program, with a special charge to help address critical enrollment needs;
- Serve on the President’s Technology Advisory Committee;
- Seek out grant and development opportunities for UMW and its partners in these areas.
I am incredibly excited to take on this new position and to be able to build on the excellent work that Mary Washington’s faculty, students, and staff have already done in this area. Look for more here in the weeks and months to come about the process, potential, and progress in this new position for me.
*In some ways, I’ll also be expected to talk even more about the work that is happening at UMW and elsewhere in the field of the digital liberal arts and digitally enhanced pedagogy. So, I plan on taking up my writing for ProfHacker again (that’s a public commitment Jason and George….) and look for more posts here as well. I also see my service on the new THATCamp Council as fitting in with my new expanded role here at UMW.