• Friday, March 06th, 2009
Finally!! Sunshine and 50 degrees, midterm grades turned in and spring break a few hours away – it has been a long eight weeks since we began the second semester. Students and faculty alike are ready to “fly the coop” and get some R and R.
For some students a break in the action began last Friday night as they participated in the WLC Murder Mystery “Murder in the Stacks.” WLC librarian Sandy Lemke and student library assistants planned a spine-tingling event where a WLC faculty member was murdered on the steps in the library and 30 student guests, following the clues, had to determine “Who killed Dr. Shireson.”
What began as a retirement party for Dr. Shireson, retiring professor of Hobbit Studies after 30 years at WLC, ended up in a mystery of “who done it?” Students played the roles of a department head, a fellow professor, the department secretary, “super senior,” undergraduate student, and the librarian – all with good reasons for killing Dr. Shireson. On her way to the celebration in the Heritage Room, Dr. Shireson (yours truly) met her murderer who could no longer contain her anger and a blood curdling cry rang out through the library. In her last dying breath Shireson revealed the first clue could be found at Noah’s Ark, the lights went out, and the search for the murderer began. Each guest was given a flashlight and in groups the guests searched for the clues to uncover the murderer.
In the end it was discovered that the department secretary was the guilty party – apparently not only was the professor’s handwriting enough to drive her to murder but worse yet the secretary had used her own library card to check out books for Shireson with a resulting $600 library find. The moral of the story: Don’t check out books for anyone else on your own library card. A fun time was had by all.
Happy spring break to all!
• Monday, February 16th, 2009
Most members of the Wisconsin Lutheran faculty serve on at least one committee in addition to their teaching and advising responsibilities. I serve on the Faculty Development Committee whose responsibility it is to provide learning and growing opportunities for all faculty members through luncheon seminars, book discussions, in-service days, and a variety of other activities.
The book being discussed this school year is “Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms.” In previous years we have read and discussed “The Earth is Flat” and “Putting Students First.” Faculty is invited to participate in the discussions as their time and interest permits.
The Faculty Development Committee also sponsors seminar lunches once a month for both interested faculty and staff. The seminar lunch affords the opportunity for faculty members to present and highlight their research, travels, special projects, etc. First semester presenters included Dr. Kerry Kuehn who shared with us a report on the 2008 Science in Perspective mini-conference held during the summer of 2008 and Dr. Glen Thompson discussed his trip to Turkey and research done there. Second semester presenters will include Prof. Deborah Uecker of the Communication Department discussing her intercultural e-mail communication project involving WLC students and their counterparts in Russia, Prof. Kristin Gjerdset of the Art Department sharing her experience as an Artist in Residence at Mesa Verde National Park, and Dr. Daniel Ebeling of the Chemistry Department explaining his research during his recent sabbatical
In addition to the above presentations, more informal discussions regarding a variety of subjects are also available to faculty during the lunch hour. Topics for these discussions include teaching methodologies, test-writing, grant-writing, preparing for promotion and improving advising. A wide variety of opportunities is available for all faculty members during the course of the school year.
The Faculty Development Committee is also responsible for distributing mini-grant monies for faculty proposals in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.
• Monday, November 03rd, 2008
Many students come to Wisconsin Lutheran College unsure of what they want to major in. Others come with a clear goal and as early as midway through the first semester discover their passion for a subject or career direction has cooled dramatically because of poor grades in some classes or changing interests. The first semester for most freshmen students is usually a combination of courses that will count toward their gen ed requirements. They discover that although in high school they didn’t particularly enjoy some course, now in college it turns out to be quite interesting. Or, vice versa, a subject they were really looking forward to turns into something for which they no longer have a passion. Deciding on a major course of study can be quite challenging.
Tuesday night the Career and Field Services Office sponsored a one-stop shopping Major/Minor Night in the Warrior Underground. Faculty representatives from most of the majors and minors were available from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. to discuss with students their respective programs, career opportunities and generally answer any questions students had. All freshmen were strongly encouraged to attend and there were many sophomores and even a few juniors who came looking for answers and advice. More than 150 students participated in this event and enjoyed root beer floats at the same time.
The timing of the Major/Minor Night is scheduled to coincide with the beginning of registration for spring semester classes. All students will be meeting with their academic advisors to discuss courses being offered, gen ed requirements, major/minor program requirements and in general “what should I take next semester?” Although it is not the role of the academic advisor to prescribe courses and programs for students, we are there to discuss options, answer questions, or direct them to the appropriate person on campus who can provide those answers.
Advising students has always been an enjoyable part of what I do here at WLC. Often students will come into my office with that look of “nothing fits” on their face. The courses they had planned to take are all offered at the same time, or a science lab extends into a class time they want or need, or it is just all overwhelming. Usually by the time they walk out of my office they realize they have multiple options, or a one credit course in class piano (who would have thought it!) will fulfill one of their fine arts requirements. A liberal arts education offers many opportunities to grow and learn in a variety of areas. Advisors just need to open the student’s eyes to the world of possibilities – as well as specific major requirements.
• Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Many faculty and staff, as well as present and former students, gathered on Tuesday, October 7 to say our last farewells to Pastor Roger Fleming. Pastor Fleming came to WLC in March of 1977 as our first full-time called professor. When the Lord took him home in October of 2008, Roger had faithfully served his Lord and WLC in many capacities. As I worked on Synod Certification courses and was both a professor and student I was privileged to study Christian Doctrine as well as Lutheran Confessions in his classroom. Back in the ’70s, the Jesus Movement was big and he asked me to do research and a presentation on that phenomenon – with my blonde wig, sign that read “Repent Now” and sandwich board that declared “Jesus Saves” I demonstrated outside of several classrooms. In addition to theology professor, Roger served as athletic director, financial aid director, registrar, golf coach, Greek professor, and wore many other hats. In those early years many of us were carpenters, painters, janitors, and just did what needed to be done, regardless of our titles. There were several elderly men from Mt. Lebanon Lutheran Church who came over at least one day a week to paint or do carpentry projects and Roger usually spent some time working with them, not only building the college but building relationships with our constituents. Many professors will remember the “Roger look” as he came looking for someone who had not turned in a grade or was somehow negligent in our record keeping for the paperwork in the Registrar’s Office.
Somehow he always caught up with us. Most memorable was Roger’s Ragout. Every fall Roger would go deer hunting and just before Christmas the faculty and staff would gather to share his bounty. A delicious venison ragout served over noodles was accompanied by the side dishes provided by others. It just wasn’t Christmas without the food and fellowship provided at Roger’s Ragout. Those were the days when the kitchen was small and anyone who wanted to cook could use the facilities available. Roger retired from his full-time duties in 2005 but continued as Greek instructor and men’s golf coach until 2008. We the faculty, staff, and students have been blessed by Roger’s many contributions to Wisconsin Lutheran College.
• Thursday, October 02nd, 2008
In communication we often discuss the “lenses” one is looking through and the impact those lenses have on our perception. I have been asked to share my perceptions of life on Wisconsin Lutheran College’s campus through this blog – to provide “HeinSight,” if you will.
Some of you have read my blogs from Hong Kong – looking through lenses that were totally in a new place – a new culture, a new experience, a new living arrangement, a new classroom teaching experience. Unlike those blogs, these blogs will be looking through lenses that have been on WLC’s campus for over 30 years – some of you reading this will have been in my classroom a quarter of a century ago; others sitting there today. I have no agenda except to share with you my perceptions of events on campus today, at times with a bit of a historical perspective.
This week in COLLEGE 101 (the freshmen orientation course), students were asked to indicate what they felt was a big issue on campus. There were a variety of responses, however, one concern was expressed by many students. It appears these 18 freshmen are overwhelmingly overwhelmed. As we approach the midpoint of the first semester I’m sure more than just these 18 freshmen are identifying their personal time management as a stressful issue. Suddenly first exams, papers, journals and everything else is due and the fun time I was having a couple of weeks ago has become stress time now.
I remember some years ago the faculty debated hard and long whether a Fall Break was necessary or even desirable. There were those who thought the stretch from late August to Thanksgiving was a mere few months in the classroom. Others argued that students would be more focused and less stressed if a two day Fall Break in the middle of the semester gave students an opportunity to get away, or at least caught up. It is obvious the latter argument won the day. It was also evident to me as I read my students’ concerns regarding their time crunches that the decision made several years ago supporting a Fall Break was a good decision. By the way, most faculty eagerly anticipate the break as much as students do!