May Newsletter

From the digging up of tulip bulbs to the reduced density of yellow dust on everything outdoors, there are plenty of signs that spring term is ending. As we transition from the academic year to summer, I’m remembering the past few weeks of celebratory events, from inauguration activities to research symposia and retirement parties, with the accomplishments of students, faculty, and staff continually recognized and celebrated. Each event marked a transition and provided a necessary pause for reflection and the creation of new memories.

One of the most memorable events of my spring term also served as a timely reminder of why we do what we do as faculty. This year, I was honored to attend the end-of-year celebration of the Department of Theatre and Dance – a wonderfully entertaining and memorable evening that included a costumed coronavirus (Johann Stegmeir) chasing a classroom teacher dressed in full personal protective gear (Anne Van Gelder), accompanied by pursuit and escape music and lighting! Interspersed with departmental awards and costume changes with comedic skits (Johann and Anne), several graduating students gave memorable and heartwarming speeches about their experiences at UR, describing the guidance, education, sense of community, and developmental support they experienced along the way. It was a poignant reminder, as we find all across campus, of who we are when we chant “we are…UR” – we are a caring and committed group of talented artists and scholars who can, alone and together, have remarkable impact on students’ lives. Messaging like this about the positive experiences of our students occurs throughout the year, but it becomes more meaningful when we hear it from the students who are themselves in transition, and reflecting on their last four years—the students who will graduate next weekend.

Sometimes we don’t hear those messages clearly, though, as we are in the midst of our own transitions, or are too busy to reflect. It can be helpful, then, to remember that these transitions are part of the academic year cycle and to try to find the necessary time to reflect, to remember, and even, if necessary, to re-boot.

Unfortunately, re-booting isn’t as simple as selecting the “restart” button on your computer when it becomes stuck or frozen. Re-booting is going to be a series of actions over time to address pace, routines, and priorities. Some delays may occur until prior commitments are resolved but, when the time is right, re-booting allows greater intentionality and better integration of well-being into our lives. Re-booting is a necessary practice to avoid errors and malfunction when you finally re-start your computer. Likewise, a re-boot seems particularly important in the transition to summer 2022 and we encourage you to reach out to the Faculty Hub as part of your re-boot when the time is right for you. Some of the opportunities in this newsletter may speak to your interests and we always welcome your feedback about supporting teaching and scholarship when the time is right for you.

Best wishes for your transition to summer,

Linda Boland
Associate Provost for Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub, and Professor of Biology

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

April Newsletter

A big part of what we do in the Faculty Hub is encouraging and facilitating faculty learning together. This month, we wrap up some of our semester-based and academic year-based faculty cohorts including those focusing on inclusive pedagogy (two groups this year!), digital pedagogy (one each semester), and professional development for early career faculty. These are just some of the groups that meet regularly with and within the Faculty Hub. Faculty who have participated in the cohorts will be present to connect with other faculty at the upcoming Celebration of Teaching on Thursday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. We invite all instructors to join the festivities! RSVP here. Please also let us know if you have a small group that we can help support. For example, some faculty have been gathering in the Faculty Hub to write together. More information about writing space is available in this newsletter. Also, a small group has been gathering from time to time over the past two academic years, to explore alternative assessment practices, including ungrading – a process that capitalizes on the benefits of formative feedback to guide learning and with adherence to a growth mindset. To understand why some faculty find this to be a transformational teaching and learning experience, please see Libby Gruner’s article in The Conversation and reach out to the Faculty Hub if you would like to learn more! In these and other activities, our goal has been to facilitate faculty-faculty learning and community building while also offering individualized faculty professional development support. In this month’s newsletter, we invite you to explore the opportunities and services we offer; as always, please reach out to us if you have unmet needs that we can discuss with you.

The Faculty Hub Team

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

March Newsletter

March has long been a favorite month of mine, partly because of the excitement of March Madness, the NCAA’s marketing term for the final tournament that crowns championship teams in men’s and women’s basketball. March Madness is the pageantry of a three-week event of “one-and-done” games with non-stop media coverage. The “madness” is the amazing, last-second winning shots, the underdogs sometimes coming out on top, and the incredible individual performances and teamwork. It is, despite all the analytics and prognostications, a period of unpredictability, and it repeatedly exposes raw human emotions, from extreme exhilaration to intense disappointment.

Madness was also a subject of study of the late neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933-2015), a passionate optimist and humanist who turned clinical case studies into narratives that reflect underlying positive aspects of the human condition. Sacks’s stories about madness juxtaposed disturbances of the mind with features that many would consider desirable, such as explosive energy and creativity. His writings remind us that we experience positive and negative at the same time: successes alongside disappointments, winning shots as well as the ones that don’t make it.

The time period after spring break has always felt like madness to me as we begin a sprint to the finish with numerous projects to supervise, theses to review, letters of recommendation to write, and celebrations to attend. This year, I want the madness of March to retain a sense of optimism so that we appreciate how hard we have worked individually and collectively and how far we have come. Shining moments for students will abound and there will also be many opportunities to recognize the achievements of the faculty in the next two months. Beginning with the annual Faculty Accomplishments Reception this week and including a new Celebration of Teaching next month, congratulatory events remain important for supporting one another. Beyond the culminating works we will celebrate, we also recognize that the shining moments surface daily in all of the ways that faculty work impacts others – on the stage, in classrooms, studios, and labs, and for those who read, view, or experience our work. As the semester continues, the Faculty Hub hopes to learn more about the sources of your explosive energy and creativity and ways that we can support you as you continually grow as a teacher and scholar. Our March newsletter highlights some of the opportunities we are offering, and we look forward to helping you navigate the madness!

Linda Boland
Associate Provost for Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub, and Professor of Biology

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

February Newsletter

Welcome to February, that short, bleak, month into which we pack the celebration of two presidents, four hundred years of Black History, and the hearts and flowers of romantic love. It’s the longest stretch of the semester without a break, and if you began the semester already tired, as I did, it may all just seem like too much.

The Faculty Hub held two sessions on sustainable teaching recently, and we listened as we also discussed recovering our joy and purpose, boundary-setting, and finding efficiencies. What we heard is what you probably already know: that the past five semesters have both created and exposed enormous challenges to our conventional teaching practices. We simply cannot go on as before and be either equitable or sustainable.

So we invite you to think with us as we focus this month on the twin challenges—and promises—of equity and sustainability. On February 11, we welcome Dr. Bedelia Richards, founder of RaceTalk LLC and Associate Professor of Sociology, for a facilitated conversation on creating an inclusive environment in the classroom. Learn more and register here. Dr. Richards draws on her research and teaching practice to offer sustainable and effective practices for building trust and supporting all students, especially those with marginalized identities. We are also happy to welcome Dr. Janelle Peifer, Assistant Professor of Psychology, as our newest Faculty Hub Associate. You can read more about Dr. Peifer elsewhere in this newsletter; she’ll be working with us to facilitate conversations on building affective capacity for avoiding and dealing with microaggressions. Both faculty and students have been asking for these conversations and we are delighted to be able to offer them.

We also invite you to continue to think with us about how to make our own practices more sustainable. Whether that’s “bundling” Zoom appointments and working from home sometimes to avoid a commute, or streamlining assessments and feedback to be both more timely and more efficient, we’d love to talk about solutions that work. You may also find some of them in our Morning Blend archive—a sustainable approach to faculty development, with 10-15 minute recorded presentations and tip sheets on a variety of topics for you to access on your own time. (Or, of course, join us live on Thursday at 9 am (over Zoom) or Friday at 10:30 in the Hub for the newest offerings!)

Finally, sustainability is a matter of equity: we cannot serve our students if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of the environment around us. And our students deserve to see us setting boundaries and taking care, so that they, too, learn these important skills for themselves. I hope we can work together, not only during this short month but every month, to raise our awareness of how sustainability and equity are linked—to slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on what really matters.

Libby Gruner
Coordinator for Faculty Development in Teaching, Faculty Hub, and Professor of English 

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

Welcome Back!

And welcome to our newsletter, a new way that the Faculty Hub will be communicating with you going forward. In this newsletter, you will find our monthly schedule of events, highlights of upcoming programs, links to resources, an introduction to our fantastic staff and associates, and additional content that we hope will be useful to you. We would be happy to receive any feedback on the newsletter and our programs and faculty are always welcome to suggest new and useful programs and events.

Best wishes,
The Faculty Hub team

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

Faculty Hub Opportunities

December Events 

  • Friday, December 3, 9:00-9:50 a.m. – Morning Blend: Reflecting on the Semester (Zoom) (see below for details) 
  • Tuesday, December 7, 12:00-12:50 p.m. – Conversation: Adjuncts (Zoom) 
  • Wednesday, December 8, 10:00-11:00 a.m. – Conversation: Course Design (Tower Room/Zoom) 
  • Thursday, December 9 and Thursday, December 16, all day – Grading Breaks in the Faculty Hub (see below for details) 

 Early January Events 

Note: The Tower Room is in the Faculty Hub. If you have any questions about access, please contact Jane Bise. 

Morning Blend 

Our final fall term Morning Blend, Reflecting on the Semester, will be facilitated by Dr. Libby Gruner on Friday December 3 at 9 a.m. Afterward, we will pause the Morning Blend until January, but our presentation and tip sheet archives are available 24/7/365! Our consultants are also happy to meet with you individually to discuss applying these and other ideas to your teaching and scholarship goals. We welcome suggestions for future Morning Blend sessions; please email us at 

 Hub Talks 

We have had a great time engaging with faculty who have shared their current scholarship through Hub Talks. Looking ahead to spring term, we have an excellent lineup for this program to share scholarly works (or works in progress) and build community among the faculty. Registration is now open for the first talk in February. 

  • Thursday, February 3, 2022 from 12:12-1 p.m.: Melinda Yang, Assistant Professor of Biology, “Using Ancient DNA to Understand Human History: Perspectives in East Asia” 
  • Friday, March 25, 2022 from 3:12-4 p.m.: Doug Bosse, Professor of Strategic Management and the David Meade White Jr. Chair in Business, “Exploring Stakeholder Capitalism” 
  • April, 2022, Date and Time TBD: Jessica Erickson, Professor of Law and Director, Richmond Law & Business Forum, “The Gatekeepers of Corporate Litigation” 

Faculty Hub Associate for Spring Term, 2022 

Interested faculty are invited to apply for a one-semester position as Faculty Hub Associate. In this role, a faculty member will work closely over the course of the spring semester with Faculty Hub staff in creating and facilitating a series of workshops and/or discussions on a focused topic related to inclusive pedagogy. Details are available here; brief applications are due by December 8.  

Faculty Hub Conversation: Course Design 

Join the Faculty Hub for an end-of-semester conversation on course design. In this session, we’ll offer a brief introduction to three frameworks/tools that can be useful for course design – backward design (Wiggins & McTighe), integrated design (Fink), and Universal Design for Learning (CAST). This hybrid conversation will take place on Wednesday, December 8 from 10:00-11:00 a.m.* Please register in advance for this conversation on course design. Coffee, tea, and light breakfast will be provided at 10 am for in-person participants.  

Grading Breaks at the Faculty Hub 

Come by the Faculty Hub on December 9 and December 16 to take a break from your grading or to enjoy a new space to do your grading! We’ll have coffee and breakfast available all morning, quiet spaces to work, and an optional mindfulness meditation break at 12:30. In the afternoon, we’ll have more coffee and snacks, and the same quiet space. Come for as long as you like and enjoy our pleasant space, the company of others, and a brief break before the semester closes. No registration required—just drop by when the timing works for you. 

Responding to Student Feedback 

As you begin planning for the spring, consider scheduling a consult with Libby Gruner or another Hub staff member to help you analyze and respond to feedback generated by end-of-semester course evaluations. This is also a good time to start planning how to gather feedback from students about your teaching and/or their learning next semester, if you haven’t done so already. Email us at or give us a call (804-662-3000) for more information or to schedule a consult. 

Teaching Squares 

Faculty interested in developing their teaching practice in community may want to join a Teaching Square in the spring. Teaching Squares provide an opportunity for mutual, non-evaluative peer observation. This is a low-stakes way to learn more and reflect on your own teaching. More information and an invitation to participate are on our website. 

Digital Pedagogy Cohort 

The inaugural Digital Pedagogy Cohort is wrapping up our semester’s work on crafting digital media assignments (resource materials developed by the Hub technology consultants can be found here). Registration is now open for next semester’s Web Publishing cohort. If you’ve used course blogs or ArcGIS Story Maps in the past and/or are interested in using them in future semesters, please consider joining us.  If you don’t have the time to commit to a semester long cohort but have a digital pedagogy question, schedule a consultation with one of our technology consultants.  

Faculty Hub Book Collection 

As you look ahead to prepare for your work this spring, please also consider stopping by the Faculty Hub to browse the faculty development book collection. Faculty and instructional staff are welcome to borrow a book from our collection and return it at your convenience. Do you have a topic or specific title you are seeking? Give us a call and we’ll let you know what’s available in our collection. 

Innovative Instruction, Collaborative Curriculum, and Diversity and Inclusion Grants 

The Associated Colleges of the South has a rolling deadline for faculty and staff to submit pre-proposals for projects ($25,000 – $50,000) that end by September 1, 2022. The rolling application deadline runs through May 1, 2022 (or until funds are exhausted). If you have questions, please email Stephanie Fabritius, President of ACS. Please reach out to the Grants Office and the Faculty Hub for assistance with the pre-proposal. 


Call for applications: Spring Semester Faculty Hub Associate

Faculty Hub Associate: 

The Faculty Hub invites applications for a one-semester position as Faculty Hub Associate to work closely with Faculty Hub staff in creating and facilitating a series of workshops and/or discussions on a focused topic related to inclusive pedagogy. If you have an expertise or interest in specific topics related to ensuring inclusive classroom environments, we invite your application to serve as a Faculty Hub Associate for the spring semester of 2022. In this pilot program for a one-semester appointment, the Faculty Hub Associate will receive a stipend of $2,000 upon completion of the work.   

Eligibility and Time Commitment: 

We invite applications from all University of Richmond tenured faculty or non-tenure track faculty with similar teaching experience (minimum six years) who have expertise to advance faculty professional development in one or more of the following areas:  universal design for learning, facilitating difficult conversations in the classroom, anti-racist pedagogy, avoiding or handling microaggressions in the classroom. 

The Faculty Hub Associate will be expected to: 

      • Work with Faculty Hub staff to plan, develop, and facilitate three or four one-hour discussions in faculty-facing workshops or conversations during Spring 2022. 
      • Produce an additional deliverable for the Faculty Hub, such as a brief video, podcast, blog post, case study for discussion, or other resource to guide faculty development.  
      • Commit to regular planning sessions with Faculty Hub staff during Spring 2022.  

Application Instructions: 

Applicants should complete this brief application and upload their CV as part of the application process. 


The application deadline is December 8, 2021. We will schedule brief interviews with applicants to assess the potential impact of the proposed work, the ability to complete the work in one semester, and the opportunity of the work to expand faculty development opportunities in the Faculty Hub. 


Dates and Times to Connect and Learn 

November 5, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Blackboard is hosting a virtual Digital Teaching Symposium featuring faculty speakers from around the world. Registration is free, and presentation topics UR faculty might find useful include: 

  • The accessibility tool-kit: Strategies for ensuring accessibility for all learners 
  • Discussion boards: How to manage feedback using rubrics and break into groups 
  • “Teach the class with your own example.” Giving students a stake in the F2F class 
  • Using SafeAssign in Blackboard: Plagiarism prevention in one click 

November 12 @ 3 p.m.  In collaboration with the Provost’s Office and Jennifer Cable from our mindfulness community on campus, faculty and staff are invited to a virtual workshop on Mindful Leadership with Janice Marturano, author of Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership. The session is designed for those who have yet to explore mindfulness practices, as well as those who regularly practice. Registration is limited and includes a copy of Ms. Marturano’s book. Friday, November 12 from 3-4:30 p.m. Sign up for the workshop here.  

November 17 @ 3 p.m.  Please join us for “What Inclusive Instructors Do: A Focus on Students’ Sense of Belonging,” a discussion with Dr. Tracie Addy, author of What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching on Wednesday, November 17 from 3 – 4:15 p.m. on Zoom. Please register here.  

November 30 @ 12:12 p.m. Leadership During Personal Crisis: Research and Implications for Practice”  Come learn from Laura E. Knouse (Associate Professor of Psychology, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Faculty Director of the Richmond Scholars Program) and Gill Robinson Hickman (Professor Emerita, Jepson School of Leadership Studies) who will share their current scholarship on Tuesday, November 30. The talk will be from 12:12 to 12:30 p.m. with discussion to follow. A Zoom option is available; there will be pizza in the Faculty Hub for those joining in person. Please sign up for the Hub Talk here

Each week, on Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, we host coffee break conversations on timely topics; see the Morning Blend program on our website for in-person and Zoom options. Upcoming topics include:  

  • Writing Strong Letters of Recommendation with Dana Kuchem 
  • Adapting Exams for Flexible Delivery
  • Academic Integrity and SafeAssign 
  • Reflecting on the Semester 

Tip sheets and videos of prior topics are available on our website and our consultants are happy to meet with you individually to discuss applying these or other ideas to your teaching and scholarship goals. 

 Services and Resources Available From the Faculty Hub 

It’s not too late to do a facilitated course assessment! For anonymous student feedback on a new assignment used this term or new teaching approaches you addedconsider a confidential, formative, facilitated course assessment from the Faculty Hub for quality feedback you can use. Contact us to learn more.  

Associate Professor Kristine Grayson has completed her role as a Faculty Hub Associate in our pilot program designed to support individual faculty development while also developing resources and knowledge to share with other faculty. To learn about Grayson’s experiences and access her resources on “Teaching Quantitative Data Literacy, please read her blog post here and contact Grayson or the Faculty Hub for more information. 

Resource Spotlight: Group Projects – Faculty using group projects in their courses may find helpful suggestions and resources in our “Group Work: Overview”and “Group Work: Assessment” tip sheets. 

Learning Communities in the Faculty Hub 

Digital Pedagogy Cohort members have been improving their skills with methods and increasing their familiarity with theories related to digital media assignments. If you are interested in diving deeper into digital pedagogy, consider joining the Faculty Hub’s spring term cohort focused on web publishing or reach out to one of our technology consultants to discuss your needs and interests.    

The Faculty Hub’s Alternative Assessments Working Group met on Friday, October 22 at 2 p.m. to discuss portfolio grading; specifications, contract, and labor-based grading; and ungrading. Future conversations will take place roughly monthly at the same time; contact Libby Gruner for more information or to join the group.  

Faculty Hub Associates Project: Teaching Quantitative Data Literacy by Kristine Grayson

When I started teaching in the Biology Department, I was enthusiastic to incorporate active learning with data into my classroom. My ideal activities asked students to use data and graphs to draw conclusions from studies that tested biological principles. Unfortunately, I kept running into student discomfort with very basic data skills such as organizing, summarizing, and graphing that resulted in short activities becoming lengthy and frustrating. To help students acquire data literacy skills, I started scaffolding data tutorials into most of my classes alongside biology concepts.

While this worked well, I wanted more time to engage students in thinking deeply about the presentation of data in biology and society. And I was anxious to advance my own knowledge, as my graduate training was not keeping pace with the tools now used by many in my field. I decided to invest more time in using Program R and learning pedagogical approaches for building student enthusiasm for coding. I just needed a nudge of confidence and support, and the pilot year of the Faculty Hub Associates program came at the perfect time to explore approaches for teaching data literacy at UR.

As I learned from the experiences of others, I’ve collected and curated materials for low stakes ways to build data skills in students across disciplines. Some of my favorite resources include:

Initiatives in Data Analytics and Data Science highlight the investment on campus for building student data skills. These include the quantitative data literacy general education requirement, the proposed interdisciplinary Data Science & Statistics Minor, strengths in Digital Humanities and Spatial Analysis, and the recent purchase of a high-performance computing cluster and webserver. Courses that build student skills in programming and data analysis are already available across disciplines, and these initiatives strengthen the programs and resources that prepare students for a data-rich world.

For biology students, the increasing availability of environmental and public health data makes learning skills in exploration and visualization vital. My colleague Angie Hilliker and I developed a new upper-level biology course to address this need called Data Visualization and Communication for Biologists (syllabus).

As we explored topics in data visualization, we introduced students to Tableau and Program R and it was the first time either of us taught with these tools. While it was great to give students exposure to multiple platforms, doing both well was hard and we’ll likely shift more towards Program R when we offer the course again. There are pros and cons for including Program R in undergrad biology courses due to the time needed to develop confidence and independence with coding and it really helped to have an entire course focused on these skills. Our students were highly enthusiastic about learning data skills, and reported valuing the tools they learned for their future careers.

Thank you to the Faculty Hub for supporting my exploration of new skills and pedagogy. Despite being mostly virtual, I really valued spending time at the Hub with Linda Boland, Ryan Brazell, Kylie Korsnack, Andrew Bell, and Jane Bise as well as fellow Hub Associates Libby Gruner and Kristine Nolin. I explored several other new teaching approaches during my time in the Hub, including social annotation tools to increase student engagement and accountability with course readings (Perusall was a game changer for having students show up to class having done the reading). I am grateful for the support of the Biology Department and chair Krista Stenger for developing a new course and especially to Angie Hilliker for teaching with me.

October in the Faculty Hub

Mid-Semester Feedback – This is a great time to gather feedback from your students about their learning. You can use the feedback to make changes before the end of the semester and give students more agency and voice in shaping their learning experiences. Here are some suggestions and resources for facilitating a midterm assessment. The Faculty Hub also offers a confidential, formative, facilitated course assessment process that some faculty use as a midterm assessment. Contact us to learn more.

Morning Blend - Weekly, the Faculty Hub hosts coffee break conversations on timely topics; one session each week is in person and one is on Zoom. See our website for dates and times. Upcoming topics include:

  • Finding Grant Funding
  • Book Arts Studio – Incorporating Creative Projects into Courses
  • Using R Workbench
  • Digital Media Projects

Hub Talk - Todd Lookingbill will share his current scholarship on Friday, October 15.  Join us for “What’s Hot in the City? The Unjust Evolution of Urban Heat Islands in Richmond, VA.” The talk is from 3:12 to 3:30 p.m. with discussion and a reception to follow in the Hub or join the talk and discussion on Zoom. Please register here.

Upcoming Fall Break - As we head into fall break, we hope you will take some time to rest, reflect, and reassess. These two recent pieces, from Inside Higher Ed and VCU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence offer tips to make a shift, let go of perfection, and reduce stress.

We are re-starting an Alternative Assessments discussion group. If you are interested in specification grading, portfolio grading, or other non-traditional assessment methods, please contact Libby Gruner.  Whether you want to discuss current needs or explore approaches for a future course, we welcome your participation.

External Opportunities - Our colleagues at the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship at Lafayette College are offering several dynamic workshops this fall, open to all. Get more information and register for all workshops on Lafayette’s registration page.

Innovative Instruction, Collaborative Curriculum, and Diversity and Inclusion Grants – The Associated Colleges of the South has a rolling deadline for faculty and staff to submit pre-proposals for projects ($25,000 – $50,000) that end by September 1, 2022. The rolling application deadline begins now and runs through May 1, 2022 (or until funds are exhausted). If you have questions, please email Stephanie Fabritius, President of ACS. Please reach out to the Grants Office and the Faculty Hub for assistance with the pre-proposal.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NOVEMBER:  What Inclusive Instructors Do – A discussion with Dr. Tracie Addy, author of What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching on Wednesday, November 17 from 3 – 4:15 p.m. on Zoom. Please register here.