Helping Highlander faculty keep teaching

When Radford University announced the move to remote teaching as part of the response to COVID-19, Executive Director of Faculty Development Heather Keith, Ph.D., and her team in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) sprang into action.

Heather Keith, Ph.D.
Heather Keith, Ph.D.

Starting with organizing and delivering several faculty drop-in support sessions and workshops with partners in the Division of Information Technology, the Harvey Center, McConnell Library and the Center for Accessibility Services, the CITL group worked multiple 16-hour days to support faculty in their rapid transition to online delivery methods for all classes.

Keith spearheaded development of the Keep Teaching website, leading her team in facilitating support through a faculty-maintained Facebook page and developing additional just-in-time rapid response faculty development programming for the faculty community with Friday “Faculty Reunion” zoom sessions, final exam assessment tools, trauma-informed teaching and student evaluation assessment options.

“Our ability to work together toward a common good is important right now, whether by staying home and keeping everyone safe or by pitching in where we can,” Keith said. “I have dedicated my professional life to cultivating life-changing experiences in college classes, and this unprecedented time has certainly afforded us all the opportunity to think deeply about how we come together to ensure that students, now more than ever, still have access to those experiences.”

Last month, Radford University announced the transition of all summer session courses to fully online delivery. Keith and her CITL team once again are working to ensure faculty can continue offering students the special experiences they can only get at Radford.

Under her leadership, CITL Director Charles Cosmato and the CITL team have consolidated their three online faculty development institutes into a two-week “Rapid Online Course Kit” to support summer online teaching.

“I draw strength from my colleagues in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, our stellar faculty and our steadfast Division of Information Technology,” Keith said. “I look forward to seeing my CITL colleagues’ smiling and supportive faces multiple times a week via Zoom and to hearing about the incredible and creative work they are doing with faculty and students, making great new things happen in classes as a result of our rapid transition to remote teaching and learning.  I am constantly impressed with CITL’s dedication and skills.”

The dedication of Keith and her team has not gone unnoticed, according to Jeanne Mekolichick, Ph.D., associate provost for academic programs.

“I have received emails, read posts on Twitter and Facebook and heard many of the faculty share their deep gratitude for the support they received in the transition,” Mekolichick said. “Infused in all of Heather and her team’s work is attention to inclusive excellence and a keen focus on our students, creating equitable and quality Highlander experiences that are the hallmark of a Radford University education.”

In addition to all that Keith is doing with the CITL team, she continues teaching her philosophy class, implementing the practices she is sharing with others and home-schooling her son, along with her partner and fellow philosophy faculty member Steven Fesmire, Ph.D.

“She demonstrates the definition of responsiveness and resilience,” Mekolichick said, “embodying the spirit of the Highlanders Rise campaign and of Radford University.”

#HighlandersRise is an initiative to spotlight how Radford University students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members push through fear and frustration to pursue their hopes and dreams, even in trying times. Our resiliency sustains us, and our responsiveness empowers us. The entire Radford family, both near and far, is demonstrating a tremendous amount of strength during the unprecedented times we are facing locally, regionally and globally.

May 1, 2020
Mark Lambert