The Fantastic Faculty feature has moved! Delta College President Dr. Gavin has invited these stories to be published internally via the Delta News and shared monthly with the Board of Trustees. Press looking for great tips can contact Leanne Govitz (leannegovitz-at-delta.edu), and visit the Delta home page for news features (www.delta.edu). The DCFA appreciates Dr. Gavin’s collaborative approach to sharing faculty news, and we look forward to connecting with our community through these regular features.
While many of us appreciate a good book, Associate Professor of English Mark Brown has taken up a unique perspective of the book form through book arts, which he defines as “an artistic and scholarly field that asks questions about what a book is, what it does, how it’s constructed, and how its content and form together can do new things. It draws attention to the physical object of the book and tries to push the boundaries of what fits under that label. The short version of that,” he adds, “is it’s where people make fascinating, amazing artworks that use the book form as their basis.”
Mark explains his journey with book arts began as an undergraduate when he came across the book Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz. He was “entranced by a book made out of metal that was shaped like a fish and the ‘pages’ hung on metal rings. I loved the tiny books that were housed in handmade boxes, poems handwritten on scrolls wound around wooden spools, and books with windows and secret compartments.” Inspired, Mark says he “immediately started trying to imitate some of what I saw with copy paper, glue, rubber bands, and other supplies on my desk.”
Later, in his MFA program, Mark took a book art class from Tom Trusky who was head of the Idaho Center for the Book, but “beyond that,” he shares, “I am largely self-taught.” In 2018, Mark attended a month-long National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah where he studied with book artists and scholars like Johanna Drucker and Charlotte Howe. “We visited rare book rooms at both University of Utah and Brigham Young University; made everything from cheap, hand-drawn zines on copy paper to electronic books programmed with Arduino circuit boards. Each participant created a final project that was part of a show at the Salt Lake City Library for four months. It was one of the most exciting, gratifying professional, creative experiences I’ve ever had.” The show was also on display in the Delta College Library for six months.
Sharing his expertise with students in the classroom, Mark’s honors composition course is “built around zines and self-publication, and the first thing we do on the first day is create an individualized, hand-made zibaldone (notebook or commonplace book). In an effort to get students to simultaneously be less self-conscious about their writing and also more purposeful, we practice different ways of presenting their writing in self-published zines. Zines are cheap and meant to be easy and accessible, but I also introduce them to artist books and the concept of book arts. Some students take their projects to elaborate, sophisticated levels, and it’s been rewarding to see how enthusiastic and ambitious some of them become.”
Outside of the classroom, Mark belongs to a group called the Broken Nose Poetry Collective with the goal for each member to make and distribute a chapbook of original poetry to the other members of the group each year. ”My goal,” Mark says, “is to use different book arts ideas and techniques every time. One year I made seven or eight tiny, one-poem books and housed them all in a metal box the size of an Altoids tin. Another year, I made a poetry machine – a board with multiple spinning wheels called volvelles that could create over 144,000 different poetry combinations. The year I attended the NEH institute, I made an accordion book with the poems I wrote in Salt Lake on one side and a running print of the Wasatch Mountains on the other side. It’s a lot of work to create an edition of anywhere from 20 to 40 handmade books, but I find it satisfying and fun.”
Still, there are some frustrations, which Mark explains, “It’s probably the same for any artistic pursuit – it’s just never as good as I want it to be. I don’t know enough. I can’t find exactly the right material or pull off the technique in the way I want. It doesn’t match what I envision in my head. I’m getting better about accepting projects as they are rather than being angry about what I wanted them to be.”
But, overall, there are more positives, “Each new project is my latest, greatest joy. I just really love making new things, and I get excited about every step of the process – daydreaming and conceptualizing, prototyping, collecting materials, figuring out the problems that arise, showing the finished product to people who care. Books are magic – not just because of what we read in them but because of what they are. Making things that highlight and hopefully augment that magic is joyful for me.”
Professor of Radiology Cindy Kramer applied for and was awarded a grant through the American Society of Radiologic Technologists to work with RAD-AID International. RAD-AID brings radiology to low-resource areas by delivering education, equipment, infrastructure and support. Cindy explains, “My task was to develop informational and educational resources that could be shared with patients so that they might better understand what takes place when they receive radiologic examinations.” Over two months, Cindy worked with representatives from RAD-AID to understand their end goals for this effort and to develop the content.
Cindy engaged her students in the process as they supplied her with photographs of work they were doing in the clinic to add realistic visual content. The completed an audio/visual presentation and brochure will be shared around the world.
“I have always had a desire to do mission work and use my radiology knowledge, and this was a perfect combination,” Cindy explains. “Historically, I would have gone to other countries and ‘taught’ them directly; however, travel was eliminated, and education/content was moved to online, much like we did on campus. It’s wonderful that RAD-AID is continuing its work all over the world through the pandemic. It was a great opportunity to serve my profession and network on a higher level.”
“I hope to continue to volunteer with this organization in any capacity they wish. I look forward to teaching others in underserved areas the importance of safety and quality in radiologic imaging.”
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.”
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. https://www.four-lakes-taskforce-mi.com/
“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.”
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.
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.”
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
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.