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The University of Alabama’s Office for Academic Affairs has named Dr. Cassander Smith as the 2020-21 Provost Faculty Fellow. Smith, the second faculty member selected for this program, is an associate professor of English in UA’s College of Arts & Sciences. Her goal is to build working relationships across the wider UA campus and help the University improve its diversity and inclusion infrastructure through enhanced teacher training.

“I want to think through ways we can continue to implement programming that normalizes diversity and inclusion, rather than treating these topics as ‘issues’ that require special attention,” said Smith. “Normalizing diversity is key to maintaining an atmosphere on campus that is open and affirming of human differences, which in turn will help in the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students from diverse backgrounds.”

Applicants for the Provost Faculty Fellow Program outline projects they wish to undertake, which must align with objectives listed in one of the four goals of UA’s Strategic Plan. Its third goal is to “enrich our learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body.”

Working alongside UA’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Smith said her plan is guided by determining how the University’s administration can effectively make diversity training and class content more accessible, help normalize accessibility, encourage faculty and graduate students to support diversity and inclusion efforts and help promote

the work already being done at various levels across campus. Smith said she’s prepared two initiatives to begin her fellowship.
“The first is a two-day symposium that brings colleges from across campus into conversation with each other to discuss their successes and obstacles to promoting diversity and inclusion in their academic environments,” she said. “In line with the symposium, the second initiative involves the creation of an online information hub where the UA community can go to access information about teaching and diversity, including any outcomes resulting from the symposium.”

Smith said many campus units already include various aspects of teaching for diversity and inclusion, but her proposed website will bring all of that information together into one location.

“In addition, the site would include bibliographies, links to online training courses and teaching tools, like handouts and syllabuses,” said Smith. “Both initiatives are designed to provide the teaching community on campus with hands-on tools they can take into the classroom.”
The OAA established the Provost Faculty Fellow Program as a professional development and leadership program
for tenured faculty.

2020-2021 Academic Planner

The 2020-2021 edition of UA’s academic planner will be available only online in PDF format, but still provide all of the valuable information students, faculty and staff are accustomed to seeing in the annual planner.

The cover of the 2020-2021 academic plannerThe PDF format will not only be environmentally friendly, but will also allow the Office of Academic Affairs to make any updates to the calendar that may occur over the course of the year.

Two versions of the academic planner with different layouts are available. One layout will feature monthly spreads together, and the other will have individual pages split.

Both versions of the 2020-2021 academic planner can be found via Box.

New Faculty Orientation 2020

Welcome to UA! The Office for Academic Affair’s New Faculty Orientation provides an introduction to UA’s campus culture and opportunities to meet with essential campus offices to enhance your teaching skills and knowledge of resources available to support your research, scholarly and creative work.

Due to ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19 and prioritizing the health and safety of faculty, students and staff the Office for Academic Affairs is planning a virtual New Faculty Orientation from 8:30-1:00pm on Monday, August 17th.

 Please Register to ensure we can contact you with the latest information as it becomes available.

Please reach out to the Office for Academic Affairs with any questions at

Provost Faculty Success Initiative – Campus Workshop – February 21st

Post-Tenure Pathfinders:  How and Why to chart your own path after winning tenure

Presenter: Dr. Joy Gaston Gayles, North Carolina State University

  • Friday, February 21, 2020
  • Bryant Conference Center
  • Birmingham Room
  • Lunch 11:30—12:30 pm
  • Workshop: 12:30—3:30 pm

Faculty Mentoring Workshop for any tenured faculty.  Please RSVP by February 14th.

Provost Faculty Success Initiative – Campus Workshop – November 22nd

Mentoring 101: How to Get What You Need to Thrive in the Academy

Presenter: Dr. Lisa Hanasono, Bowling Green State University

  • Friday, November 22, 2019
  • Bryant Conference Center
  • Rast Room
  • Lunch 11:30—12:30 pm
  • Workshop: 12:30—3:30 pm

Faculty Mentoring Workshop for Deans, Department Chairs, Mid-Career faculty and Junior Faculty.  Please RSVP by November 15th.

Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Workshop – October 23rd

How to Thrive in the Academy When You’re the Only ____ In Your Department

  • Wednesday, October 23rd
  • Bryant Conference Center
  • 9:00 am–4:00 pm

This Solo Success workshop provides essential tools for underrepresented faculty to identify and confront the challenges that are unique to their experience on campus.  This workshop mitigates these challenges by providing a framework for achieving solo success.  Participants learn how to prioritize their research/writing among teaching and service demands, engage in self-care, and how to avoid burnout, loneliness and isolation.

Sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.   Please RSVP by October 21st.  For more information please contact: Osielia Lewis at

Provost Faculty Success Initiative

Rethinking Mentoring: How to Build Communities of Inclusion, Support and Accountability

Presenter: Dr. Mindi Thompson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Tuesday, September 24, 2019
  • Bryant Conference Center
  • Rast Room A
  • Lunch 11:30—12:30 pm
  • Workshop: 12:30—3:30 pm

Faculty Mentoring Workshop for Administrators, Department Chairs, Center Directors and Tenured Faculty Mentors.  Please RSVP by September 17th.

Mayer named UA’s first Provost Faculty Fellow

Headshot of Dr. Carmen Mayer
Dr. Carmen Mayer

The University of Alabama’s Office for Academic Affairs has established the Provost Faculty Fellow Program, a professional development and leadership program for tenured faculty.

The first faculty member selected for this program is Dr. Carmen Mayer, associate professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. She is also the campus representative for the Boren Awards, which support study abroad opportunities in countries considered critical to national security.

“The fellowship is an opportunity to learn from our leadership how to put my particular skills to work for more students,” said Mayer, whose specialty is 19th century French literature.

“I am partly drawn by the administrative training aspect, but the project development part of the fellowship is a great way to get creative about connecting more students with opportunities and reducing barriers to achievement. That’s exciting to me.”

The program’s initial focus is on the Project Rising Tide Student Success Initiative, a campus-wide effort designed to support the first goal of UA’s Strategic Plan. The initiative identifies best practices, develops campus resources, establishes pilot projects to assist students and works with faculty and staff to build environments to give all students the chance to succeed. This is part of what inspired Mayer to pursue the fellowship.

“The long and short of it is that I love working with and for students,” she said. “When I first read about the initiative, it was clear this is all about students and helping them achieve success here at the Capstone. My special field connects with the global perspective part, of course, but I also have a lot of experience working with scholarships, fellowships and international education.”

Through the fellowship, Mayer is focused on a project called Scholarship/Fellowship Access. She said it fosters a culture of achievement by making more students aware of internal and external funding opportunities for research and study abroad. She is also working on a new web portal for the Academic Resource Hub, which will merge information about award and funding opportunities.

“If we have a one-stop web location where these opportunities are showcased, we’ve addressed the first barrier, which is awareness,” said Mayer. “Another key consideration is timing. We need to connect students with information very early on for planning purposes, so it’s about getting the right information to the right people at the right time.” Mayer said she desires to see students from every corner of campus and academic background become expert opportunity seekers, and supporting this culture of achievement requires time and personnel resources. While many faculty members and advisors already spend countless hours writing letters of recommendations and helping students to polish their applications, she said this is a crucial collaborative effort and makes PRT a worthy investment.

“Current research on study abroad, for example, shows a direct and tangible correlation between international academic experiences and student success, including on-time graduation rates, particularly for underrepresented students,” said Mayer. “My longer-term hope is that UA will put resources behind this effort. In the shorter term, I’ll know I’ve contributed to the PRT initiative when more students than ever are applying for and winning awards.”