Faculty mingling at FDH

Faculty Development Hub Closes Spring 2022 at AUA

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YEREVAN, Armenia — Members of the junior faculty and mentor faculty researchers of the American University of Armenia (AUA) gathered at the Faculty Center on May 6 to mark the close of the Spring 2022 Faculty Development Hub (FDH). The FDH was created last fall to enhance faculty development at AUA among assistant professors. 

The FDH focused on the broad concept of faculty professional development in the Fall of 2021 and research this semester. Next semester, it will focus on teaching and learning. The basic idea of the FDH is to give assistant professors a broader community to discuss issues that are common to faculty as they enter the profession in higher education. The kinds of knowledge and skills that are needed to earn a PhD are not necessarily the same knowledge and skills it takes to be a successful college professor. College professors must be able to engage students and their colleagues in teaching, research, service, and outreach.

FDH was created because most academic units at AUA are too small to provide an adequate forum for professional development. Professional development in higher education requires that new faculty – all recent PhD graduates – have many colleagues with whom they can share experiences, explore opportunities in teaching and research, and understand why service to the broader community is critically important to the profession. This type of thinking and these types of activities are not unique to the profession of college professor. Medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and other professionals enter an apprenticeship after they graduate with their degrees.  

The sixteen faculty members who attended the FDH this semester included both new assistant professors and more experienced faculty. New faculty must have the opportunity to interact with senior faculty in a forum that is specifically designed for professional development. 

Dr. Rafik Santrosyan, an assistant professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), noted that the FDH gave him a broader appreciation for transdisciplinary research. He said that “when you’re exposed to different forms of research. . .it helps you adopt a new perspective. This is the beauty of FDH. No scholarship can evolve in isolation.” Dr. Hasmik Khalapyan, also an assistant professor in CHSS, agreed. “The FDH exposed us to a diversity of voices and gave us the chance to meet colleagues from other departments and learn what their research is all about,” she said.

FDH will become even more important as AUA grows and hires more full-time faculty members. Our goal is to develop a full-time, professional academic workforce that can help AUA fulfill its mission to have an impact on students and the community as a center of academic excellence, innovation, inquiry, and diversity that contributes to the development and advancement of Armenia. The FDH is part of Academic Affairs and led by President Dr. Karin Markides and Provost Dr. Brian Ellison. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.