This fall brings the launch of an exciting new initiative, the Ashland University Research and Writing Community (AURWC), a program created and facilitated by Dr. Sharleen Mondal, Assistant Professor of English. The AURWC trains participants to learn, practice, and receive support and accountability in developing habits that are empirically proven to improve faculty research and writing productivity, work/life balance, and teaching efficiency and effectiveness. While the fall pilot program serves only faculty, if the pilot is successful, the program will be expanded to serve graduate students and undergraduates working on long-term writing projects. This means that both faculty and students at Ashland who participate in the AURWC will receive small group support and individual coaching to achieve their writing goals, furthering Ashland’s “accent on the individual” philosophy and providing a core community of other scholars and writers, reducing isolation in writing and increasing the likelihood of a productive and rewarding writing experience.
Dr. Mondal developed the AURWC as follows: with the generous sponsorship and financial support of Ashland University Provost, Dr. Frank Pettigrew, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Dawn Weber, Dr. Mondal participated in a national program, the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s Faculty Success Program (or “faculty boot camp”), in Fall 2012. The following semester, with the support of Ashland University’s Professional Discipline Experience Grant and in collaboration with the Faculty Development Committee, Dr. Mondal developed a similar program to the Faculty Success Program, tailored to the specific needs of Ashland University. During the grant period, Dr. Mondal consulted with Dr. Kerry Ann Rockquemore, President of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, to get feedback on the AURWC modules and to receive training in how to facilitate and coach such a program. Late in the spring 2013 semester, the AURWC call for applications went live and the pilot program’s participants were selected.
Four faculty members across colleges at Ashland University are currently participating and the program has been publicized through a recent presentation Dr. Mondal delivered at Faculty College; if the program is successful, current participants can be trained as future coaches and the program can expand into multiple small groups of faculty and students.
The AURWC is one of many examples of initiatives developed by English Department faculty who are committed to supporting both faculty and student scholarship, and who are passionate about developing opportunities for researchers and writers to thrive in their academic careers while experiencing the joy of truly being part of a scholarly community.