Skip to main content

University Supports and Budget Cuts

As many of my readers know, I worked with the Center for Teaching and Learning at both the University of Minnesota and our sister system, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Today, I received a shocking letter from the Director of Faculty Development: the CTL is closing, systemwide.

This decision is significant because it was through CTL that I conducted seminars for faculty on how to meet the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders and other cognitive special needs. The closure means less faculty development, less awareness, and an increased likelihood that students with ASDs will struggle in the university settings.

I am already an underemployed Ph.D., with a unique specialization in autism and language instruction. My Ph.D. also includes "Rhetoric" in its title. Well, it is time for some persuasive rhetoric from educators, parents, and advocates. If we do not explain that not-training faculty members will eventually increase the costs to society of supporting individuals with ASDs, we will lose more programs that focus on staff development.

Here is the letter I received. The CTL closes in less than two weeks. I'm stunned.
Dear Colleagues:

In follow-up to my September, 2010 memo about changes at the Center for Teaching and Learning, I forward the attached letter from Interim Vice Chancellor Scott Olson announcing the closure of the Center, the majority of its programs, and its website, http://www.ctl.mnscu.edu, on January 31.

As I imagine so many of you will, I feel a mixture of sadness and pride when thinking about this loss. The pride comes in having worked with dozens of talented faculty and staff here in the Center, and in knowing that each year since 1998 more than 4,000 faculty across the state have both benefited from and contributed to CTL. You’ve presented at and attended CTL conferences, managed CTL grants, engaged as lifelong learners in CTL workshops, webinars, and forums. More than 300 of you have served your campus colleagues as CTL Campus Leaders. I know from our analytics that the CTL website will be greatly missed, but we will let you know where to find links to some of its resources on other Office of the Chancellor websites.

This closure is significant, but at almost all of our campuses, faculty and students are dealing with the painful impact of academic program closures. We must respond with creativity and vision. I look forward to working with all who have an ongoing interest in teaching, learning, and the work of faculty to imagine and create a balanced set of campus-based (and, if needed, system-level) services for faculty professional development.

I send deepest thanks for all you’ve done for and with your colleagues through CTL.

L. M.
System Director for Faculty Development
Minnesota State Colleges & Universities
Center for Teaching & Learning

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"

A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.

I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…

Life Updates: The MFA Sprint

Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.

With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.

You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.

The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …