In this essay, Barbara Rodriguez, Ph.D. shares reflections on ACUE’s partnership with Winston-Salem State University, which is part of the “Excellence in Online Instruction” Initiative, supported by The Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Who says you can’t feel energy and excitement in a Zoom room?
As part of Winston-Salem State University‘s annual Faculty Festival, more than 50 ACUE Certified faculty were recognized for earning their credential in effective college instruction. The partnership is part of the “Excellence in Online Instruction” Initiative, launched in 2021 with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and ACUE to equip hundreds of faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) with innovative, evidence-based practices.
Winston-Salem State University is a nationally-recognized institution and a top-ranked HBCU for advancing student social mobility. At the pinning ceremony, Provost Dr. Anthony Graham said the ACUE initiative for HBCU institutions offered an opportunity to serve its student-centered mission by enhancing institutional capacity. ACUE, he said, was “part of our ecosystem, where we focus on intellectual climate, student success, and lifelong learning.”
Having a clear vision for how ACUE would fit into Winston-Salem State’s institutional strategies is what has made our partnership so beautiful. We worked closely with the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction, which moved quickly and intentionally to recruit faculty for its inaugural cohorts.
The ACUE course, a comprehensive 25-module program, would require faculty to devote a significant amount of time on a weekly basis for the entire academic year. Once again, the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction, or CITI, was critical to supporting faculty and keeping them engaged throughout the entirety of the program. It was an honor to work with Dr. Wanda White, the center’s director, and Dr. Jeremiah Schipp, an ACUE co-facilitator who also created a Class of 2022 Yearbook that does an excellent job of telling the ACUE story at Winston-Salem State University.
“I really expected us to lose faculty over the course of the year, but you all challenged my deficit thinking,” Graham said. “We lost very few faculty throughout the year, which suggests to me that you are committed to our students, you are committed to your own learning opportunities, and you are committed to this university and what we stand for.”
“Faculty, thank you so very much for jumping in headfirst into this opportunity,” Graham continued. “You had faith in the size of a mustard seed, as they say, and you took that first step.”
To scale the ACUE Online Teaching Excellence program at WSSU, the CITI will work closely with certified faculty to serve as leaders for the university at large.
“We need you to be ambassadors within your departments and across the campus,” Graham said. “We must work in partnership to achieve the larger goal here, which is to ensure that student success and student engagement and learning at a very optimal level is occurring. That is the power of partnership.”
Dr. Barbara Rodriguez is the Regional Director for Academic Programs for ACUE.
Watch the full ACUE Pinning Ceremony on the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction YouTube page.
Hear from ACUE Certified Faculty at WSSU:
- Dr. Cindy Bell, Occupational Therapist (12:55)
- Dr. Fenghai Guo, Associate Professor, Chemistry (19:59)
- Ms. Michele Leverett, Instructor, University College