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The Annual Faculty Convocation is a college-wide event featuring keynote presentations, guest speakers of special interest, or discussion groups/workshops related to the education of artists and designers. The event is designed to welcome all returning and new faculty to campus, to provide updates on major developments at Otis over the summer, to offer a compelling presentation program to start the academic year, and to celebrate Otis' current recipients of Teaching Excellence Awards.

The 2020 All Faculty Convocation was held on Wednesday, August 26th from 9am - 1pm via Zoom. Our program provided faculty an opportunity to workshop anti-racist approaches to interactions with our students and colleagues and the ongoing process of decolonizing the curriculum. Two hands-on workshop sessions were held, one on decolonizing our syllabi and the other on developing effective skills for online teaching, facilitation, and activities that reflect the values and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion, and specifically anti-racist tools. The Convocation adjourned with departmental meetings that followed.

The 2019 All Faculty/Staff Convocation  was held on Wednesday, August 21 from 11-am -1pm in the Forum. Our program featured a welcome from Interim President Randy Lavender, Interim Provost Kim Russo, and Board of Trustees Leader, Mei-Lee Ney that was followed by the presentation of annual Teaching Excellence Awards, honoring some of Otis College’s finest. The focus then shifted to It Takes a College, where we used Faculty/Staff reflections to foster learning and awareness that helped us all see aspects of what it takes to be a college that may not be visible in the course of our normal work. Finally, the Convocation adjourned with a faculty/staff luncheon and departmental meetings.

The 2018 All Faculty Convocation was held on Wednesday, August 22 in the Forum. Our all faculty Convocation featured a welcome from President Ferguson and Interim Provost Kim Russo, and the annual Teaching Excellence Awards Celebration followed honoring some of Otis’ finest faculty members.  Finally there was a meaningful interactive session featuring a distinguished panel of internal experts, who briefly presented and then invited an active discussion on the question:

How can we help our current generation of students succeed?

  • What are the contemporary issues in higher education regarding the current demographic of students and their generational peer characteristics?
  • What are their student health and wellness needs?
  • What best teaching practices, pedagogies and support mechanisms can we fittingly provide to enhance student success?

The panel included a recent Otis College alumnus, Assistant Professor, Tucker Neel, Director of Academic Advising, Carrie Malcom, Psychologist/Counseling Director, Rachel Brosamle, Chair of Foundation, Linda Hudson, and Interim Provost Kim Russo.

Going forward, we look forward to sharing with you the information collected within your discussions. We appreciated learning from you, and about your experiences in the studios and classrooms, ideas and discoveries, and concerns for the future.

Finally, the Convocation adjourned with a faculty/staff luncheon and departmental faculty meetings.

The 2017 All Faculty Convocation was held on Wednesday, August 23 in the Forum. Our program looked inward this year at our remarkable accomplishments in supporting student success through innovative, effective teaching and surrounding practices. Otis President Bruce W. Ferguson welcomed the Faculty with opening remarks; Provost Randall Lavender followed with a brief message and the introduction of our keynote speaker, Jill L Ferguson (no relation to the President!). Author, editor, higher education consultant, artist, and assessment in the creative disciplines expert, Jill L. Ferguson lead an interactive session to inform and engage us as we prepare for our upcoming WASC Reaccreditation review and campus visit. Jill is the author of Assessment in Creative Disciplines: Quantifying and Qualifying the Aesthetic (Common Ground 2014) and Inquiry-Based Learning for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences: A Conceptual and Practical Resource for Educators (Emerald Insight, 2014). Following this activity, Associate Provost for Assessment and Accreditation, Debra Ballard, dove deeper into specifics that we all need to be aware of in preparation for our opportunity to showcase how you—the teaching faculty—instigate, fulfill, and continuously improve the transformational experience that our programs provide. The annual Teaching Excellence Awards Celebration followed honoring some of Otis’ finest faculty members. Finally, the Convocation adjourned with a faculty/staff luncheon and departmental faculty meetings.

The 2016 Faculty Convocation was held on Thursday, October 13, 2016 in the Otis Forum, situated within a new 89,000 square-foot student housing, academic, and student services complex. Otis President Bruce W. Ferguson welcomed the Faculty with opening remarks; Provost Randall Lavender followed with a brief message and introduction of the keynote speaker, Dr. Tia Brown McNair. As Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges & Universities, Dr. McNair is a leader in advancing student success and making excellence inclusive in higher education. In her keynote presentation, "Advancing Faculty Diversity through the Vision and Practice of Inclusive Excellence," Dr. McNair illuminated ways that institutions can create campus climates and educational practices that evolve with today's increasingly diverse cohort of students who require an institution-wide commitment to addressing diversity, equity, learning, and student success as core values with measurable goals. The recognition of Faculty Promotions and the annual Teaching Excellence Awards Celebration followed the keynote presentation honoring four of Otis’ finest faculty.  

The 2015 Convocation featured Otis’ new President, Bruce W. Ferguson, who welcomed the Faculty with opening remarks.  Provost Randall Lavender followed with remarks and the introduction of the keynote speaker. Richard Louv, award-winning author, journalist, and commentator, spoke about his recent book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age and national bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.  Louv’s work brings to our attention the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation, and the theme of his presentation at Otis was:  "Hybrid Minds: Technology and Nature."  Louv's often-cited phrase, "nature-deficit disorder," served an apt metaphor for one of Otis' longstanding discussions—that of its relative making focus, along with its attention to fostering students' critical thinking and technical skills.  The annual Teaching Excellence Awards Celebration recognizing Otis Faculty achievements followed the keynote presentation.  Associate Provost for Assessment and Accreditation Debra Ballard and Provost Lavender then launched Otis’ 3-year WASC and NASAD reaccreditation cycles, and outlined for the Faculty the plan for successfully completing and learning from assessment practices, self-study, and upcoming site visits.


The 2014 Convocation featured Interim President Kerry Walk and Acting Provost Randall Lavender, who updated the academic community on current matters, and introduced keynote speaker Dr. Mark Milliron, award-winning education leader, author, speaker, and consultant.  Dr. Milliron was Deputy Director of Postsecondary Improvement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  He has published numerous chapters, articles, and blogs on best practices in higher education, including contributions to such leading publications as Chronicle of Higher Education, American College Testing (ACT) Foundation, and American Journal of Distance Education, and serves on numerous corporate, nonprofit, and education boards and advisory groups, including the Global Online Academy, the Journal for Teaching and Learning with Technology, and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), the parent organization of the Big Ideas Fest.

The 2013 Convocation featured renowned psychological researcher Dr. Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. The book uses data from 1.3 million young people to show the real differences among generations on self-esteem, individualism, anxiety, sexuality, and other characteristics. Dr. Twenge will use her research to discuss teaching today's college students. Her presentation will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A featuring Chair of Fine Arts, Meg Cranston, Associate Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Heather Joseph-Witham, Adjunct Associate Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Foundation, Rob Spruijt, and Assistant Vice President for Student Success/Dean of Student Affairs, Laura Kiralla.

The 2012 Convocation featured keynote speaker John Tagg, whose groundbreaking book, The Learning Paradigm College, defines a paradigm shift happening in higher education today that places more importance on learning outcomes and less on the quantity of instruction, and emphasizes results more than formal processes. As Tagg explained, the Instruction Paradigm that has dominated higher education for so long attends to courses, while the Learning Paradigm attends to students. Chair of Liberal Studies, Debra Ballard, shared thoughts, discoveries, and reflections from her own teaching and program administrative experiences, extensive reading in the areas of pedagogy and best teaching practices, and formal training in assessment for higher education.

The 2011 Convocation examined the theme of Creativity from three perspectives: research, practice, and teaching application. Renowned creativity researcher Mark A. Runco discussed phases of creativity and talent development. Inspiring advertising leader Will Travis shared insights into creativity through a branding and interactive design lens. And Otis faculty member Linda Hudson shared the innovative Foundation and upper division design course, Creative Practices and Responses.

The 2010 Convocation focused on issues of sustainability in art and design education. Keynote speaker Nathan Shedroff, author of numerous books on sustainable art/design practices, including Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable, is Chair of the graduate program in Design Strategy at California College of the Arts. Independent currator Patricia Watts shared the work of several unusual and influential artists working in an environmentally-conscious way. And Chair of Fashion Design, Rosemary Brantley,  revealed how the teaching of sustainable practices has been embedded in that program's curriculum.

The 2009 Convocation featured artist Bill Viola,  a pioneer in the medium of video art who is internationally recognized as one of today's leading artists, and Susan Metros, Associate Vice Provost for Technology Enhanced Learning and Deputy Chief Information Officer at the University of Southern California. The presentations were facilitated by Chair of Communication Arts and Graduate Graphic Design, Kali Nikitas.