SISH Faculty win FIU Recognition Awards at 2013 Ceremony

Dean Furton with SISH award winners Ana Wlodarczyk, Leanne Wells, Suzanna Rose and Ada Monserrat

President Rosenberg was on hand November 7, 2013, in the Graham Center ballroom to personally congratulate this year’s awardees, as well as the many employees who celebrated 5 years on up to 40 years of service (for the first time in FIU history), as well as this year’s retirees. During the presentation of the seven FIU Recognition Awards, the School of Integrated Science and Humanity was proud to bring home two of the awards.

The President’s Access & Equity Award was given to Professor Suzanna Rose, Director of the School of Integrated Science and Humanity. The award recognizes efforts exceeding one’s job responsibilities to support the goals and objectives of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Rose has demonstrated commitment to the spirit of diversity and shown leadership in her interactions with persons of different cultural backgrounds as well as making a commitment to those who are members of traditionally under-represented groups within the institution.

Dr. Rose has been a leader and innovator at FIU in terms of building a diverse faculty and staff, and in creating mentoring opportunities for junior faculty and colleagues to help them succeed in their careers. In addition, for the past 3 years, she has launched and continues to oversee 3 main programs at FIU to support increasing diversity: ACE, the Awareness, Commitment and Empowerment program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the FIU Faculty Mentor Program and the Leadership Institute for Women Faculty.

In 2011, the ACE team received an NSF-ADVANCE grant, of which the major component is directed at educating and mentoring colleagues concerning the best practices for faculty hiring, particularly in the sciences, where unconscious bias affects hiring of women and under-represented minorities. In the first two years of the grant, there has been a substantial increase in the number of women and minorities hired in the sciences at FIU. The team is also working on creating conditions for newly hired faculty to feel welcome, supported and well-informed on how to efficiently navigate the FIU organization.

The Faculty Mentor Program, now in its 3rd year, started with the College of Arts & Sciences, and has now expanded to Engineering and Computing, as well as Public Health & Social Work. The program has over 100 faculty members currently participating and provides workshops year-long that relate to academic success, such as Tips to Tenure, Preparing for the 3rd Year Review, Journal Publishing, Grantwriting, and Summer Planning. Junior faculty are matched with a senior faculty outside of their own departments but in a related research area, occasionally resulting in innovative research projects and collaborations.

The Leadership Institute for Women Faculty was begun in 2010 in response to a Faculty Climate Survey. The survey identified a number of areas in which women faculty indicated dissatisfaction or disadvantages due to institutional climate. Since then, the institute has sponsored several day-long skills workshops. Sample topics include Assertive Communication, Salary Negotiation, How to Chair a Meeting, Balancing Work & Family and Do Babies Matter?

The FIU Community Award was given to the members of the Mastery Math Lab Founding Team, which includes Leanne Wells, Ana Wlodarczyk and Ada Monserrat. This award recognizes faculty who promote high quality teaching, state of the art research and creative activity or collaborative efforts with local and global communities. The team has played a pivotal role in support of FIU’s mission.

Prior to 2011, College Algebra classes were taught in a traditional lecture-based format, and at FIU they had an abysmal 36% passing rate. Since passing College Algebra has been demonstrated to be an excellent predictor of student retention and graduation, the decision was made to try a new approach – the “High-Tech High-Touch” approach to teaching this gateway course. The Lab uses Learning Assistants, peer tutoring and a computer-based mastery program.

The goal has been to increase the passing rate 8% each year since the Lab was opened in the Green Library, with 204 computers, in the fall of 2012. To date, the passing rate has increased to 47% in 2011-12 and to 54% in 2012-13, and is expected to go even higher for 2013-14!

In addition, the team reached out to Miami-Dade County Public Schools with the ACCESS Mastery Math Pilot project in which 95 students from four Title 1 schools were invited to spend 3 consecutive Saturdays in the Mastery Math Lab to prepare for the State of Florida end-of-course exam in Algebra. Of the 95 students, 75% had been predicted to fail the exam based on their prior low scores. The other 25% were predicted to pass but were in danger of failing based on socioeconomic factors.

The results of the exam were stunning: 79% of the students participating in the pilot passed their end-of-course exam in Algebra 1, compared to 66% district wide. Based on this success, the Mastery Math Lab team is leading efforts to transform the program into a permanent project and make it an outstanding example of FIU community engagement.

Congratulations to all of our SISH Faculty on their FIU Recognition Awards and for their dedication to creating success at FIU!