Fantastic Faculty :: Read More For Fun

In 2020, Professor of History Laura Dull set a goal for herself: Read more for fun.

“It’s easy as a faculty member to count reading student work as ‘my reading,’” Laura explained, “but reading for enjoyment is a different activity. Between our tense electoral politics and the COVID crisis, doomscrolling became a real danger. Reading was a more positive and constructive way to distract myself from the negativity and fear. The more tense the world became, the lighter my reading: cozies (light murder mysteries) and some novels involving baking or beaches.” Laura’s goal became evident as pictures of books with her commentary about them began showing up on her Instagram feed.

“I began posting the covers and numbering them as a mini-reading journal for myself. I was surprised when I received messages from friends that seeing my reading was motivating them to read for fun—or to read more.”

Book #115 closed out the year, but as we ventured into 2021, Laura showed no signs of slowing her reading adventure.

“I decided to continue posting and counting what I’ve read in 2021 because I enjoy seeing reading integrated into the images that document my year. Sometimes I wonder if people see these posts in their feed and roll their eyes at my choices, but ultimately, I post for me, so roll away.”

Many of us (English teachers included!) complain how little time we have for “pleasure reading,” yet Laura seems to have developed a true reading habit in her daily life. “I read before bed, while I eat breakfast, waiting for appointments to begin or to pick up my daughter. My phone tells me how much screen time I spend each day on what type of activities. The amount of time we might spend on email, games, or social media adds up. I am taking some of that time and repurposing it for one of my first loves—reading!”

And “reading” can include on traditional paper, via her Kindle app, and even listening to Audible recordings. “Many of the books I read are from the ‘bargain bin,’ which has introduced me to new authors,” Laura shares, as well as the “unexpected benefit” that “reading for fun has re-engaged my creativity, which I have been able to bring into my classroom as I have reflected more deeply on the power of stories.”

Fantastic Faculty :: Helping Rebuild a Community

In May 2020, many of us watched in horror as the news unfolded: Heavy rains and poor upkeep caused a series of dams in Midland County to fail, resulting in catastrophic chain flooding of Secord Lake, Smallwood Lake, Wixom Lake, and then Sanford Lake, all of which were let loose. The lakes were drained in a matter of hours and 10,000 people evacuated. In the aftermath, 2,000 homes were lost or destroyed, and countless residents remain in litigation limbo. With little to no financial support, many homeowners, some with generations of history in the area, have been forced to abandon their properties or remain in hopes that someday, they will be able to have their lakefront restored.

Amidst so much chaos and overwhelming devastation, there are those who have committed themselves to supporting their community and working tirelessly to pursue restitution and rebuilding. Professor of English Crystal Starkey is one such leader. Crystal grew up on Sanford Lake and is now raising her own family there. She had previously served for eight years on the Edenville Township Board of Review and is now engaged in doing all she can to help others by serving as a Trustee on the Edenville Township Board and as a member of the Edenville Township Planning Commission.

Additionally, Crystal is contributing her writing expertise by assisting the Vice President of Four Lakes Task Force (4LTF) with their grant efforts. “The dollars they are pursuing are much larger than anything I’ve been able to garner in the past,” Crystal says, “so I put the 4LTF in touch with the grant consultant for the Michigan Township Association. Both of these guys are highly skilled, so I am beyond thrilled to be able to work with them on such an important issue.”

Crystal continues volunteering her time, as she explains, “I do this work because what happened was unfathomable and unfair and awful…all due to greed and neglect. It stirred something in me, you know?”

For more information about how to support the Sandford and Wixom Lake communities, visit Four Lake Task Force.

Fantastic Faculty :: Thinking Civically for All

“Thinking civically,” explains Professor of Political Science Kimberly Klein, “involves looking beyond an ‘I’ toward a ‘WE’ viewpoint. This broader perspective encourages us to understand our role as a member of the larger community in shaping the world that we want to be a part of.” And Kim walks this talk, both on campus at Delta College and in the larger academic community with the publication of her essay “Thinking Civically: Delta College Champions Community Engagement” in the forthcoming book Enhancing Performance: A Best Practices Guide for Innovations in Community Colleges (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers).

“The essay describes Delta’s commitment to creating a culture highlighting the importance of civic engagement,” Kim explains. “Engagement equals action and action is empowering! When we act, we tend to get buy-in, and with it comes a sense of belonging and a belief that we matter.”

Exemplifying this engagement in her work at Delta College, Kim is co-chair of The Democracy Commitment, which hosts on-campus events, such as voter registration drives and Change Your World Week (which has continued to take place virtually during the pandemic).

Community outreach that Kim spearheads centers on an annual Race to College event and Safety Town program. “Race to College,” Kim explains, “involves a partnership with local elementary students introducing them to Delta through the use of a bike. Delta students, faculty, and student services personnel using hands-on activities teach youngsters about bike and traffic safety, along with health and wellness. We have established partnerships with Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Transportation, Covenant Hospital, Jack’s Bicycle Shop, and our Police Academy Cadets.

“We intentionally designed activities that would bring the young people and the law enforcement community together. Our goal involved law enforcement and youngsters viewing each other in a different light. Operating in a relaxed, inviting environment created an opportunity to get to know one another on a different level.

“The Safety Town program is geared toward teaching kids how to stay safe as accidents are the number one cause of death in the 0 to 14 age group. Hands-on lessons involving fire and water safety, stranger danger, and COVID safety are included in this outreach. To date, we have impacted the lives of 1,100 elementary students with the day-long Race to College on-campus visits (pre-Covid) and our Safety Town event has impacted 300 kindergarteners through third-grade students.

“The coolest thing about teaching using thinking civically,” Kim shares, “is being a part of the transformation that happens with students. Students gain confidence as they begin to see what a difference they make in their own life and the lives of others.” And for herself as an instructor, Kim adds, “It is invigorating to have the freedom to develop projects that challenge our students and ourselves.”

Fantastic Faculty :: Virtual Student Art Show

One of the highlights for the Delta College community at the end of each school year is the Annual Student Art Exhibition and Awards. While the Fine Arts Building Galleria (located in S-wing) showcases outstanding student work throughout the year, the Annual Exhibit is the one time the Delta College Art + Design faculty bring the show into the community. Past shows have been held in Bay City and Saginaw, but the pandemic struck, and the Midland venue had to be postponed. Rising to the challenge, faculty devised an alternative method for sharing selected student painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, design, graphic design, and photography.

The Delta College Associate in Fine Arts Virtual Student Exhibition 2021 is a sixteen-minute full-color, high resolution video displaying of student work from the past two years. The works were selected by Art Instructor Tamar Aldrich, Art Instructor Sanford Buchalter, Associate Professor of Art Ben Clore, Professor of Art Randal Crawford, Art Instructor Amy Gibas, Associate Professor of Art Michael Glowacki, and Associate Professor of Art Andrew Rieder.

Pictured: Best of Best in Show Winner “Perspective” by Jocelyn Gonzales, ART 111 Drawing II, Instructor Randal Crawford.

The Student Exhibit is important,” Michael Glowacki says, “to emphasize the value of showing your work as an artist. Showing work to the public furthers the support of the arts in our local communities while also preparing students for the process of applying to art exhibitions, the reality of sometimes not having your work selected, and furthering confidence in their craft.”

“Normally,” Michael adds, “one of the many benefits of an off-campus student exhibit is that we are able to showcase the hard work of our students while supporting a local arts venue in one of the tri-cities. With a virtual exhibit, the major benefit to give our students a well-deserved pat on the back while showcasing that the arts are not going anywhere even amid a pandemic.

“Students interested in pursuing a career in the arts are not only creative in the field but can be in life as well. It has been amazing to see how art students adapt to continuing their craft remotely. Some students had struggled at times including myself as an instructor, but, given the circumstances, a majority have had the attitude of ‘we are all in this together,’ and we figured out a way to successfully work remotely this past year. There has been equally impressive work created this past year in comparison to previous years before the pandemic. As an instructor, I will say it has been surprising how connections with students are still made, but I do look forward to meeting these students in person more regularly in the future.”

The Annual Student Art Exhibit will continue, hopefully in person for 2022, though Michael says they will also document and share the exhibit virtually as they have done this year. While the pandemic may have forced the faculty to create alternative methods, many of these have proved viable options or enhancements in our new normal.

Fantastic Faculty :: PTA National Exam Input

Delta College Faculty regularly participate in their professions at the national level, as in Physical Therapist Assistant Associate Professor Christopher Hausbeck’s invitation to serve as an Item Writer for the National Physical Therapy Examinations (NPTE), administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). According to the FSBT, “Development of the NPTE is an important component of FSBPT’s mission to protect the public by providing service and leadership that promote safe and competent physical therapy practice. The contributions of Item Writers for the NPTE is critical in supporting this mission.”

Chris is ready to commit to the four-month term that includes a three-day training workshop to start. “The expectation,” he says, “is to create forty exam questions during the four-month term. The questions are reviewed and analyzed on multiple levels before eventually (hopefully) being accepted for use.”

This work is essential, Chris explains, since “passing the NPTE is required to become licensed in the field, which is necessary to work. There is a Physical Therapist version of the exam and a Physical Therapist Assistant version of the exam. Once an individual passes the exam, that person can work anywhere in the USA.”

The initial commitment for Item Writers is one-time, but, often, Chris says, “they are asked to serve for additional terms. There are multiple workshops held throughout the year with an ongoing staff of writers. The expectation is that each participant creates and submits their own questions with oversight from the Item Writer Coordinator.”

The benefit of this work goes both ways, Chris adds, “I am excited to get an insider’s perspective as to how the questions on this important national exam are constructed, so I can bring that knowledge back to my students and Physical Therapy Assistant Program at Delta College. It is also a neat way to give back to the profession.”

Fantastic Faculty :: New Surg Tech Tech

Surgical Programs Faculty at Delta College were excited to welcome a new addition to their classroom on April 29 this year. A new lap Surgical Technical simulator will be used by both Surgical Technology students and Surgical First Assistant students. The lap ST simulator will allow students to practice holding the camera for laparoscopic procedures as well as develop hand eye coordination and practice anatomy recognition exercises. This is essential knowledge and skill for Delta program graduates to have so they can assist surgeons with laparoscopic surgery procedures such as as clamping vessels, cutting, suctioning, and suturing. Delta College ST and SFA faculty will also receive special training in order to teach this new technology. Once again, Delta College faculty keep both themselves and their students up-to-date with technology to produce some of the most sought-after graduates in the field. To better understand how this technology is used, watch laparoscopy simulation training videos on the Surgical Science website: Video | LapSim® | Surgical Science

Fantastic Faculty :: Can’t Stop This Press!

Delta College Faculty often serve in multiple roles at the college, including Crystal McMorris, Associate Professor of English, who is also Advisor to the Delta Collegiate, the student-run news organization that has operated at Delta College since its founding in 1961.

Through her commitment to freedom of the press, Crystal has mentored countless students on to careers in Journalism and Integrated Media, with many of them earning accolades along the way. This year was no exception as work by two Delta College student-journalists earned statewide recognition in the 2021 Michigan Community College Press Association Awards: one for commentary by Velencia Mejia and another for photography by Michael Pieper.

“This was a difficult year for student-journalists, who had to navigate a new way of gathering information during a pandemic,” Crystal said. As a Certified Media Advisor, Crystal’s role is to provide support and advice to the Collegiate staff, who make final decisions themselves regarding content they publish on their web site and social media, exercising their First Amendment rights. The print edition has been temporarily discontinued due to a lack of students on campus.

“Despite our challenges of budget cuts and social distancing, the student-journalists have continued to find ways to create content that engages readers in the Delta College community,” Crystal said. “The staff has shown dedication and creativity during this tough time.”

“I am especially proud of Michael and Velencia for their awards, but the whole staff deserves recognition for keeping the Collegiate going during an unprecedented time, when we could not even access our newsroom.”

The award-winning photo by Michael Pieper captured the action of Delta’s last home men’s basketball game before the pandemic upended college sports, and Velencia Mejia’s humor column offered insight into the life of a pregnant student.

Fantastic Faculty :: Future Surg Tech Text

Associate Professor of Surgical Technology Rebecca Hall is both a contributing author and executive editor of a new textbook, The Practice and Principles of Surgical Assisting. One of the nation’s top publishing companies, McGraw Hill, is the publisher. Rebecca explains, “It is being written by surgical assistants to be used by the surgical assisting programs. While McGraw Hill is the publisher, the Association of Surgical Assistants is the sponsor. They will own the rights to the book.”

Since the book is currently only 60% complete, Rebecca explains, it is not yet slated for a publication date. “The publisher needs 80% to begin building the book. I am hopeful the remaining chapters will come in in a timely manner.”

There can be no better authors and editors for textbooks than experienced teachers, especially from such a successful program as Delta’s. Both our students and faculty have much to look forward to when the book becomes available for classroom use.

Fantastic Faculty :: Data in Real Life

On March 12, 2021, Professor of Psychology Dr. Ralph Worthing presented the paper “How Political Affiliation Affects Attitudes Toward Mask-wearing, White Privilege, and Systemic Racism” at the annual conference of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters (MASAL), which was held virtually this year.

Dr. Worthing’s paper was based on an in-class survey research demonstration in his Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 Introduction to Psychology classes. Dr. Worthing asked students to indicate their political affiliation, then rate their attitudes toward wearing masks in public and the social issues of White Privilege and Systemic Racism.

Dr. Worthing opened his presentation with this comment, “A phrase than can make me cringe is ‘research has shown’. Research can be meaningful or meaningless, depending upon the skills and objectivity of the researcher. I like to have my students understand that concept by experiencing the process of research from the ground up. Hence, I engage my students in some type of study each semester. My goal is for the scientific method to become real to them rather than an abstraction.”

What could be timelier and more meaningful than the exploration of these attitudes, which intersect several very real social issues? Dr. Worthing has shared his presentation notes here, which students also read and reflect on to close the loop in their learning experience:

Fantastic Faculty :: All Things Medieval

History Instructor Michael Evans is organizing the 36th International Conference on Medievalism to be hosted online by Delta College on November 4-6, 2021. The conference is run under the auspices of the International Society for the Study of Medievalism, of which Michael has been an active member for fifteen years.

“Medievalism,” Michael explains, “is the study of modern responses to, and interpretations of, the Middle Ages. It is inescapable in contemporary culture, from the success of medievalist fantasy television shows such as Game of Thrones and The Witcher, through media comparisons between Covid-19 and the Black Death, to the use of medieval rhetoric and imagery in extremist political movements.”

Even though there are many popular connections with this time in history, Michael says, “the study of the Middle Ages is in decline in higher education, coming under assault in the name of cost-cutting and ‘relevance.'” And yet, given the parallel events occurring in our time, Michael asserts, “This is, therefore, the ideal time to assess the state of medievalism today.”

Michael will also be speaking on “teaching and medievalism” at the online Global Medievalism conference on April 28-30, 2021, organized by the Medieval Studies Group from Unimontes, Brazil.

He is also continuing his research on Isabella Capet, a medieval queen of England, which he plans to develop into a book. He will be presenting papers about Isabella (remotely) at the International Congress on Medieval Studies (Western Michigan University, May 2021); the 10th Annual Kings and Queens conference (University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland, June 2021); and the International Medieval Congress (University of Leeds, England, July 2021).