Tell Your Story
Develop a Dissemination Plan
There are many ways to spread your mission and vision through the institution and beyond. Some examples mentioned by centers include:
- center website
- annual reports, newsletters, one-pagers, brochures, and whitepapers
- social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs)
- faculty workshops, weekly journal clubs, scheduled visits to department meetings, and elevator speeches
- orientations, resource fairs, open houses, and dropping into larger events to share about your center
Spend time developing a plan for which mix of avenues makes the best use of your center's resources (human and material). This set of activities will likely depend on previously existing channels, staff or volunteer time, and the mission and vision of the center itself.
The Office of Teaching and Learning at Wayne State convenes faculty workshops and weekly journal clubs and speaks at departmental meetings as ways of sharing the office's vision and mission. These events also offer the opportunity to identify and recruit additional faculty who are ready to make changes and adopt student-centered approaches.
Know your Message - Know your Audience
Centers may wrestle with having a consistent message that articulates what the center is or does that does not change with different audiences (consistent brand) or customizing messages for specific audiences that might lead to confusion about what your center is or does. Overall it is critical to know both your branding, branding strategy, and your audience.
Xavier University has a single, consistent message that is the same whether they are writing a "grant proposal to a funding agency or being discussed in an informal conversation with a new faculty member." The mission of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development is to promote the University's mission through the development of faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility.
In their communication, Portland State University models the goal they have for their faculty seeing the relationship and interdependence of their work. Faculty teach STEM students who become STEM teachers who teach K-12 student who in turn become our new freshman. Thus the work they do with a student today impacts the students who will enter their classroom 10 years from now. This innovation in teaching supports the goal of having highly qualified students entering their programs.
The new STEM Education Center on Berea's campus will have as part of its mission showing students that they belong through activities coordinated with aligned Centers (i.e., the Black Cultural Center) that provide support and practical strategies for success.
The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering (CRLT-Engin) emphasizes different parts of the mission depending upon the context and needs of the audience members. For example, when trying to engage funders, communications focus on providing stories or narratives about how faculty change their teaching practices to better support student learning based upon their interactions with our center.
Make Use of your External Advocates
Sometimes, outsiders can be the most effective people to communicate your story. For example, Advisory Board members are often more loosely coupled to the institution and have access to extended networks. If they are provided with regular/periodic updates and have some ownership of the mission and vision, they can champion the vision and mission to these networks.
Stakeholders who helped develop the center's vision and mission can share them with their networks at professional meetings and in peer-reviewed publications when appropriate, especially for functions that are grant funded.
With these ambassadors in mind, then, it is important to develop and distribute materials such as press releases, one-page handouts, and brochures that lay out the information for them to share. These dissemination pieces can also serve to archive the activities and growth of a center across time.
Celebrate your People
Acknowledge the individuals who work with the center for their contributions to its vision and mission. Professional recognition helps establish their record of service and also supports the morale of all faculty and staff who are connected to the center.
In 2014, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development established the Mission, Values and Programming (MVP) Review Committee and this group of people made considerable contributions to changes in vision and mission that took a holistic approach to developing the whole faculty member. Celebrating the work of the MVPs was part of generating excitement for the new efforts of the center.