June Director's Message

As we turn from the end of the spring semester and into the summer, I have been reflecting on yet another challenging term punctuated by escalating violence in and against communities and communities of color across the nation.  

In such times I often despair and question how and whether the work I do matters. I sense a great divide between teaching undergraduate writing courses or honors seminars in rhetoric and effecting societal change. Amidst that despair, however, I always find hope through the very students I teach, colleagues who surround me, and friends—all of whom lift me to action.  

In reflection, I also recognize that our work—at the Drake Institute and across offices and programs at Ohio State—can itself be a balm, a space for making connection. I truly hope that the hundreds of instructors who engaged this academic year in our consultations, workshops, course design institutes, SGIDs (Small Group Instructional Diagnoses), book groups, GTA Toolkit, orientations, FIT mentoring cohorts, and learning communities all felt a sense of connection—with one another and with our staff. 

I also reflect on programming across the university that inspires me. Just last month, I attended a FAME workshop on strategies for effective cross-cultural mentorship led by Dr. Jamilah Hackworth and was reminded of the singular, fundamental importance of “connection before content,” of reaching out to one another as a first act of engagement even as we continue much of our work remotely and contend with unspeakable violence and loss. 

As I look forward to the Institute summer programming, I see rich opportunities for us to connect with the university community as we partner with instructors and units designing and redesigning courses for the new General Education curriculum at the same time we continue to offer a wide range of professional learning programs for all who teach at Ohio State. In addition to offering one-on-one consultations, institute staff and our colleagues in other units that support teaching and learning are hosting programs—both in person and online—throughout the summer months. The Institute Upcoming Events calendar lists these events. 

Of note this summer are the  

These intensive professional learning opportunities create extended time to learn and reflect on course planning and connect with staff and colleagues throughout the process of developing new or redesigned courses. 

Since its founding in 2016, the Institute has transformed from a hub connecting individuals and units with teaching and learning programming to an established center with interrelated responsibilities of educational enhancement, strategy, infrastructure, evaluation, and research, fulfilling the vision articulated by Steven Mintz (Higher Ed Gamma 30 November 2020). That vision served as the framework through which the institute conceived its five-year self-study and undertook both internal and external reviews in 2021 and 2022. Those reviews confirmed for us that the Institute is “a unit that is acutely attuned to the shifts that are taking place ... across the higher ed landscape; that can identify opportunities, roadblocks and challenges; drive innovation at scale; and assess program performance rigorously and in a timely manner” (Mintz, p. 5). The processes of looking back and looking forward have been especially valuable as we plan for the next five years of institute activity and welcome the next institute director. 

As I come to the close of my second (and final) term as director of the institute, I reflect, as well, on the achievements that mark the past six years since the founding of the institute in 2016. I am especially grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the inaugural director of the institute and work with colleagues in the Office of Academic Affairs, a dedicated staff, graduate students, faculty fellows, and institute affiliates to elevate and impact scholarly teaching at the university. Each one has encouraged me to connect in ways and at a scale far beyond what I had imagined possible.

Thank you.