University welcomes new director of Faculty Development Center

Story by Lindsey Coleman, Staff writer

Firm Faith Watson was named Murray State’s new Director of the Faculty Development Center (FDC) on Jan. 1, where Watson plans to implement new programs to benefit teachers and students.

Originally from Jamaica, Watson earned her undergraduate degree at University of Technology, Jamaica and moved to Illinois to earn her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University. She then accepted a position as an instructional designer at Indiana University South Bend. Therefore, she said she had experience with many things Murray State was interested in.

“What brought me to Murray was the position itself,” Watson said. “It was a good fit for me in terms of a lot of things that they wanted.”

She said the small town charm of Murray won her over. Her husband and son made the move to Murray with her.

“It was really the mission of the Faculty Development Center that attracted me,” Watson said. “It really resonated with my professional goals.”

She said the goal of FDC programming is to encourage informal conversation about teaching and learning, where faculty can gather together and learn from each other.

“The FDC really supports learning on campus,” Watson said. “Our direct customer is our faculty. Our indirect customer is our students, because we help faculty to help students learn.”

The Faculty Development Center offers various professional development opportunities, programs, events and help for faculty going up for promotion and tenure.The center works with faculty and has one-on-one consultations, which Watson said help to meet the unique needs of all faculty members.

Watson is working on initiating a Course Design Institute program and a digital badge program, both of which will be for faculty to participate in.

“It doesn’t matter how many programs, workshops or events that we offer, faculty may still need to work on something, or they may have a goal,” Watson said. “That’s where the digital badges come in.”

Watson said when creating a program or initiative, faculty can work with the Development Center.  Faculty members can earn a bronze badge for planning, a silver badge for implementing and a gold badge for sharing their efforts with other educational communities.

Watson said she thinks mid-semester feedback from students through the FDC is important for effective instruction.

“The students benefit in that semester,” Watson said. “That’s the good thing about the small group instructional diagnosis.”

Watson will also be serving as an assistant faculty member under the University Libraries.

Ashley Ireland, associate professor and dean of University Libraries, said Watson attended sessions of the Faculty Development Center Blitz Week, held Jan. 9-13. There, Ireland said Watson saw the many talents and interests of the Murray State faculty and demonstrated that she would be an asset to the university.

“She has a wealth of knowledge about improving teaching to increase learning, and she brings her experience of helping faculty implement those strategies to Murray State,” Ireland said.

“She will be a tremendous asset to the Faculty Development Center, to the University Libraries and to the university as a whole because she has a student-centered focus to teaching and is preparing programs, services and resources to support faculty in their growth as instructors,” she said.

Justin Patton, media specialist at the FDC, said he has been discussing future plans and ways to improve the center with Watson.

“Watson has a strong background in Canvas and course design,” Patton said. “Her knowledge of modern pedagogical theory is truly vast, and she has an intrinsic passion for improving learning environments and practices – something she developed long before coming to Murray State.”

He said Watson’s enthusiasm for design and deeper learning will be strengths for her.

“I believe she will continue to engage faculty and staff in a powerful way because of her ability to communicate so effectively, to cast a compelling vision for connecting with students and to motivate instructors to seek out emerging ideas in pedagogy, while remaining rooted in the proven foundations,” Patton said.