22 educators accepted as candidates for the 2021 Faculty Innovation Fellows program

22 educators from 15 higher education institutions from around the world have been selected as candidates in the Faculty Innovation Fellows Program. In this two-year program, faculty and staff work to design unique projects that enhance the innovation ecosystems at their schools and help students gain vital real-world skills and mindsets.

This program is run by the University Innovation Fellows program, which empowers students and faculty leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking. The University Innovation Fellows is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). 

Participants in the Faculty Innovation Fellows are the mentors (called Faculty Champions) of students taking part in the University Innovation Fellows program. The student program has existed since 2012 and has always involved Faculty Champions, but in this program, the mentors will work together across a global community to support their collective efforts. 

“We designed this program to address needs expressed by the faculty and staff in our community,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “These campus leaders wanted similar resources and a community of practice just like their student Fellows have. Last year was our first prototype and we saw great results. Educators were very engaged. They made great progress on their projects with mentorship and a supportive community. As a result, we’re thrilled to continue offering this program.”

Candidates in the program collaborate with one another to learn new change strategies, develop projects, gather feedback on ideas, and share resources. The program launched in September 2020. The first cohort of candidates met regularly in small groups to share the opportunities for change they identified as well as ideas for projects that can make the most impact for students at their schools. Candidates’ proposed projects include funding programs, new majors, new classes, activities that connect the campus and the community, and more. Each member of the program will have the opportunity to publish an article in the University Innovation Fellows journal, Change Forward, detailing their project and their progress. Those who complete the program will be launched as Faculty Innovation Fellows in March 2023. 

Four long-standing members of the Faculty Champion community provide mentorship to the group of candidates: Nick Swayne of James Madison University, Mary Raber of Michigan Tech, Miriam Iliohan of the University of Twente, and Ilya Avdeev of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. 

“Candidates in the Faculty Innovation Fellows program are doing this work because they see opportunities to improve their schools and because they believe in the power of change from the bottom up,” said Fasihuddin. “We can’t wait to see what these change makers can accomplish!”

The candidates in the 2021-2023 Faculty Innovation Fellows program are:

  • Erica Noelle Hernandez, Bowie State University
  • Julie Ann Messing, Central Michigan University
  • Kelle Kathleen DeBoth, Cleveland State University
  • Nicholas Zingale, Cleveland State University
  • Yudistira Dwi Wardhana Asnar, Institut Teknologi Bandung
  • Abdul Munif, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember
  • Melanie Bowman, Khalifa University of Science and Technology
  • Alliya Rose Anderson, Khalifa University of Science and Technology
  • Jessica Wong, Lingnan University
  • Bongkot Jenjarrussakul, National Institute of Development Administration
  • Chanansara Oranop na ayutthaya, National Institute of Development Administration
  • Michael Dominik, Rowan University
  • Sunita Kramer, Rutgers University
  • Stephane Yu Matsushita, Tohoku University
  • Takeshi Kato, Tohoku University
  • Felipe Wilson, Universidad de los Andes, Chile
  • Daniel Flores Bueno, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas
  • Jorge Bossio, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas
  • Norma Silvana Balarezo, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas
  • Magna Guerrero, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas
  • Aaron Bradley, University of Cincinnati
  • Julieta Matos Castano, University of Twente

Learn more about the Faculty Innovation Fellows program at https://universityinnovationfellows.org/faculty-innovation-fellows-program/

A Faculty-Led Movement Inspired by Students

How a small community of UIF mentors are disrupting higher education

by Ilya Avdeev, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Mary Raber, Chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, Michigan Technological University
Miriam Iliohan, Co-founder and Manager of DesignLab, University of Twente
Nick Swayne, Founding Director of JMU X-Labs, James Madison University
Faculty Innovation Fellows program community leaders

Making a difference in higher education is much more fun than one might think. It is about giving and receiving empathy from your community, students and colleagues. It is about showing that you can work together and make bold moves if we trust one another to find the connections.

Our work with students has emboldened us to think about creating our own movement. We all experienced the enthusiasm of our University Innovation Fellows who brought this experience back to our campuses and immediately leapt into action to bring about positive change. This led us to wonder: 

“How might we bring this same sense of empowerment and engagement to our faculty and staff?” 

“What if faculty and staff were introduced to the same tool sets and mindsets of innovative change?” 

“What if faculty and staff were also part of a community of practice where wild ideas are encouraged, experimentation is the norm, and sharing of diverse perspectives is valued?”

Building forward from the successful student-focused UIF program to create a similar program for faculty and staff provided the opportunity for us to explore these and other questions. At our schools, this approach has taken hold and is helping to transform our culture into one that emphasizes collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, the mindsets and tools of design, and innovating to transform the educational experience.

Back when we were new Faculty Champions, during one of our first UIF Silicon Valley Meetups, leaders from Google’s Project Aristotle presented their work on building team effectiveness and system change at Google. We were asked to consider: what is the core element of strong teams and effective system change? The answer was psychological safety.

As long-time Faculty Champions, supporting the UIF experience as it unfolded for our students, we felt the distinct lack of such physiological safety amongst faculty and staff at our schools.  Faculty would certainly have a role in being the institutional memory for our UIF projects, but we didn’t have the same support structures we were providing for students.  

The five of us (the authors plus Katherine Christopher of Grand Valley State University) began meeting regularly, sharing ideas about what was working, how to support each other and how to help faculty at other institutions. Over time, this team solidified into what we called the Fab5. The Fab5 provided a virtual place to recharge and talk, share new ideas, a means of testing concepts and prototypes, but most importantly, it provided the psychological sounding board we needed to build our own movement. 

As a group, we felt a growing pull to support new faculty as they started innovation movements on their campuses. For many faculty, this is a lonely journey. We thought, what if we connect these “nomads” and fuel their passions for change by the energy of the UIF student movement? We tried several technical solutions, added events to in-person meetups, and tested several prototypes of online programs.

It wasn’t until a UIF Meetup in Salzburg in 2019 that the idea to create a program for faculty solidified. There, at one point during the week, a group of Faculty Champions sat in a castle on a mountain top, sharing a personal moment of why we joined this movement. Each story being unique of its kind, we took the time to listen. Time to really listen and reflect on what the other Faculty Champion was telling about their journey of becoming an empowerer of change. The community feeling of empathy grew throughout the day, with hugging, inspiration walks along the river or city excursions just to talk a bit further about what makes us tick.

As a result, we worked with UIF co-director Humera Fasihuddin to launch the Faculty Innovation Fellows Program. Knowing there are others “out there,” having a judgment-free place to share, getting support and encouragement from respected team members has been transformative in so many ways.

The Faculty Innovation Fellows Program is now a two-year experience for Fellows’ Faculty Champions that helps them expand the innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) movement at their schools. Much like the student Fellows program, the Faculty Innovation Fellows candidates design ways to improve their institutions. They connect with a community of like-minded educators from around the world to advance projects, gather feedback, and share what they learn.

There are currently 18 candidates in the cohort. We are a year into the program, and the more we learn, the more we want to explore.

Whose job is to reinvent higher ed? Administration? Students? Faculty? These are uncharted waters for most Faculty Innovation Fellows candidates. Where does what we do here fit? Research, teaching, service? Something else? We are collectively trying to figure this out. We are not expected to spend our time reimagining higher ed by our administration, by our executive committees or even by our peers. And yet, we do. Because we can. Because we have to. 

Faculty Champions from around the world share similar questions: How do I demonstrate to my Dean that UIF can be scaled? How do I incentivize other faculty to join me? How do we make sure that our students take credit for their work (both academically and non-academically)? How do we make others understand our work?

This prototype has already proven that a community of practice is stronger and more creative than the sum of its parts. We can now point to a “portfolio” of pilot projects yielding real gains for students, faculty and campuses around the globe. More importantly, we have created a small (as of now) community of practice.

At our schools, we sometimes look for that explosion of energy that we give on a daily basis, with a warm cup of coffee, to students and staff to empower in their work, and to go beyond. To not see the barriers that the institution can give, but which insights we can give the institution to make change. 

Two years ago, a team of faculty set out to pull together like-minded people in an effort to innovate higher education. Completing their first year of work, the team has realized significant progress. We’re just getting started, but the movement has momentum and the combined energy of the founding faculty. Change in higher ed seems impossible, but it doesn’t have to be, and the Faculty Innovation Fellows are leading the way.

This article was featured in the UIF journal Change Forward 2020-2021. Read the journal here.