Drop-in teaching and technology support is encouraged at Faculty Commons' front desk.

Faculty Commons

UD teaching faculty use Faculty Commons for variety of purposes during first six months


11:21 a.m., May 4, 2015--For faculty and others who teach at the University of Delaware, Faculty Commons in 116 Pearson Hall is an oasis.

Whether receiving “just-in-time help” with teaching and related technology, hosting a faculty event or a small meeting with colleagues, or simply feeling at home while away from the office, more and more faculty members have already discovered the hidden gem that is Faculty Commons.

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“There aren’t a lot of places on campus for faculty,” said Karen Stein, associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration. “I really don’t know of any other place with Faculty Commons’ kind of environment. I love being there.”

Faculty Commons is an idea that combines the strengths of many on-campus departments into a one-stop-shop for faculty members with teaching and technology needs. 

Partners include several different units within Information Technologies (IT), Morris Library’s Multimedia Collections and Services, Morris Library’s Reference and Instructional Services, Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning (CTAL), Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education (ITUE) and many more — but when visiting the Commons, faculty members don’t need to remember the list of support units. They simply arrive with a question and leave with an answer.

“It’s great that there are consultants there who can quickly provide advice about teaching with technology and help solve problems related to things like course management systems,” explained Carmine Balascio, associate professor of plant and soil sciences, who’s been using the Commons as his “satellite office” since its inception. “It’s a comfortable facility that I enjoy taking advantage of.”

“There are always friendly faces [at] the desk whether you need help or not,” Stein concurred. “They’re always there to provide support.”

Faculty Commons has also provided a convenient space for small faculty events and gatherings related to teaching. Over the past six months, it’s hosted more than 75 events, including faculty presentations and select sessions from the Department of English’s “Brown Bag Lunch” series.

“The space provides us access to technology that helps us talk about our work,” said Joe Harris, professor of English. “[English 110 professors] love making use of the tables set up around the collaborative screens. We can have a whole group working together on the same document.”

Because Faculty Commons is a space exclusively for those who teach — including both full-time and adjunct faculty and graduate students — the Commons’ configuration is dynamically defined by faculty needs. The space can become whatever faculty members need it to be. 

“When I go to Faculty Commons, I almost always bring someone new who hasn’t been before, and they’re always impressed,” concluded Harris. “It’s a nice place to walk into, and I’m sure many of my colleagues will return.”

Faculty members who have not yet experienced Faculty Commons are encouraged to take advantage of the resource. Drop in to ask a teaching or technology question, reserve a conference room, grab a coffee, bring lunch and collaborate with a diverse, often unpredictable set of colleagues. 

Faculty Commons is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., weekdays, in 116 Pearson Hall. For more information, visit the website, call 302-831-0640, or email faculty-commons@udel.edu.

Article by Christopher Johnson

Photos by Mathieu Plourde and Paul Rickards

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