Providing pathways for development, promotion and everything in between.

Volume 6 | Issue 7

March 2023

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Feature Articles

Faculty Affairs Welcomes New Associate Director for Faculty Initiatives, Ursula Gorham

We are delighted to welcome Ursula Gorham as the new Associate Director for Faculty Initiatives, overseeing policy and procedural matters governing PTK and other non-tenure-track faculty. She comes to the Office of Faculty Affairs from the College of Information Studies (the iSchool), where she served as the director of the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program and taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses focused on information access and information literacy. She is a proud alumna of UMD, having earned a PhD and a Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) from the iSchool, a law degree from the School of Law, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a Master of Public Management from the School of Public Policy.

Prior to pursuing a PhD, Ursula followed a career path that alternated between the law (including two judicial clerkships and a stint as a corporate transactions associate in a Baltimore law firm) and librarianship. As a doctoral student and then PTK faculty member, Ursula conducted research on digital government and, more specifically, on the use of technology to assist self-represented litigants in the U.S. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on related topics, most recently collaborating on research examining the accessibility of court documents. She is a co-author of Foundations of Information Law, to be published in Summer 2023. 

Ursula is a member of the American Library Association's Policy Corp, where she remains engaged in efforts to fight book banning in public and school libraries. She is also a devoted yogi and cat foster who tries her best to oversee a household that includes four humans (a husband and two teenagers), five cats, and the world's sweetest dog.

UMD Welcomes New Program Manager to the Faculty Staff Assistance Program

By Dylan Lewis

We are very excited to welcome Dr. Tonya Phillips, the new Program Manager for the Faculty Staff Assistance Program. The Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) is a free and confidential assessment, referral, coaching, consultation, and short-term counseling service available to all full and part-time employees of the University of Maryland.

FSAP staff are trained to provide support and guidance for a wide range of personal and work-related issues, such as stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, work-life balance, and substance abuse. Counselors are also available to meet with departments for a debriefing following a death or other traumatic event. In addition to counseling services, the FSAP offers educational resources and training programs to support employee well-being. These resources include workshops on stress management, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence, as well as online resources and self-help tools.

The FSAP program is available to all full-time and part-time faculty and staff members, as well as their eligible dependents. The program operates during normal business hours and hopes to offer after-hours support in case of emergencies in the future. While employees tend to use the program for an average of three visits, they are able to work with employees for up to ten sessions per concern. FSAP is also working on producing a robust resources tab on their website for people who need asynchronous assistance, or who may not yet feel comfortable coming in and speaking with someone. 

We spoke with Dr. Phillips to learn more about her goals in the position. Phillips is a licensed clinical social worker with 20 years of professional practice experience in organizational psychology, as well as experience in research, teaching, supervision, and community service. Phillips is also an alumna of the University System of Maryland, having received her master’s degree in social work from UM Baltimore.

Tom Ruggieri, Phillips’s predecessor in the position, worked as Program Manager for the FSAP for 35 years before retiring. Phillips is excited to sustain the amazing work the FSAP has been doing, while also broadening the scope of what the FSAP does and who it serves. An important goal for Phillips is to debunk some of the myths about the FSAP by emphasizing how the program functions as a resource available to all faculty and staff, not a punitive or disciplinary department people are only referred to. “We are a service hub, here to form collaborative relationships and help people through challenging situations. We want to connect people to the resources they need to process and normalize real life experiences like stress and anxiety,” Phillips emphasized. 

Some of the challenges facing faculty and staff right now include anxieties surrounding reintegration to campus after the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and 2021. “We were all shocked when we were pulled out of work, now we are shocked coming back. It is normal to have stress about something like this happening in your professional life,” Phillips says. Seeking help with stress, anxiety, or other invisible illnesses can be especially difficult not only due to the societal stigma surrounding mental health disorders, but also because faculty often do not know how to process feeling overwhelmed or defeated when such feelings are so contrary to their professional identity, education, or success. The FSAP is a resource for UMD faculty and staff members who may be dealing with these challenges.

Phillips also recommends a variety of wellness strategies, even for those who may not be feeling like they are struggling with workplace stress or anxiety. These strategies include getting out of your office for a quick 5-minute stroll around campus or practicing mindful breathing. Doing some quick stretching, yoga, or even dancing can make a big difference in how you feel each day, both physically and mentally. Finding a way to “pause” for a few minutes each day and making sure your body is getting what it needs should be a priority for everyone working in stressful environments. 

Something Phillips wanted to reiterate about the FSAP is that they are “a resource with qualified professionals who don’t want to embarrass or expose you, we want to create a healing, safe space so you can resume your work-life balance. Life is lifeing, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and defeated by that at times. Let us help you!”

Please visit the FSAP website for more information about their services and resources:

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ABET Accreditation Support

Departments and colleges/schools across the campus are periodically involved in accreditation efforts. These are labor intensive efforts and tend to require the collection and assembly of information about the faculty. Working on an accreditation self-study typically involves multiple requests for specific information that is needed for the accreditation reports, coupled with administrative efforts combing through CVs to find specific information. 

While much of the self-study work that these units assemble involves qualitative assessments of the programs and faculty involved, there are also quantitative elements. There is a good chance that Faculty Success can support the creation of those quantitative elements through pre-built reports.

The Faculty Success platform maintains pre-built reports for a number of accrediting bodies, including AACSB, HLC, ABET, CAEP, and CCNE. These reports mainly draw on data already available in Faculty Success for your faculty from their annual activity reporting. Where needed, additional data fields or activity screens can be added to the platform to ensure full coverage for a particular pre-built report. These additional fields and screens can be made available to all faculty within a particular college or school, reducing confusion for faculty in other domains. 

At the University of Maryland, Faculty Success has supported the School of Public Health's Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) accreditation work in 2021. 

Currently, the Office of Faculty Affairs is working with the School of Engineering to support their Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) program evaluations. Faculty Success has implemented four pre-built reports for ABET program reviews. The platform has been augmented by two new ENGR-only activity screens and seven new data fields on three of the existing activity screens. 

These schools have found that when their faculty keep their activity information up-to-date on a regular basis, accreditation efforts are streamlined by using Faculty Success data. In these cases, they avoided the need to send multiple email requests and to comb through individual CVs. Both Engineering and Public Health were able to easily access the information they needed for accreditation reporting.

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Volume 6 | Issue 7