Over ten years ago in 2001 I began a five year job as the Director of the Teacher Learning Center at The College of Mount Saint Vincent. The photo above is the castle, now Admissions center right in the middle of the campus. Here on 75 acres of prime Realestate on the Hudson River on the Bronx county line and Westchester county line lies the Sisters of Charity campus and the College of Mount Saint Vincent a coed Catholic private college.
When I arrived at the College of Mount Saint Vincent on May 1, 2001 it was a hot humid day and I had to park at the bottom of the hill and walk up the hill to the Administration building. A friendly Dean showed me the five floors of the administrative building where most of the classrooms were and the President and other officers on the first floor level. My office was a storage room on the fourth floor of the administration building facing the Hudson River. It was quite a view.
After I was allowed to hire my secretary Mrs. Py Liv Sun who was in one of my computer training classes at BOCES in Nyack previously, I began to clean out the storage room. Five giant file cabinets had to be pushed out into the hallway for facilities to pick up and put in storage. As I found out that anything put in the hallway was up for grabs among other academic departments that needed file cabinets or thrown out furniture. I was told there was surplus furniture in the attic of the building, so Py Liv and I went looking for office chairs and tables we could use for the Teacher learning Center.
My job was paid for by a Title V Hispanic serving institution grant from the U.S. Department of Education for 1.1 million over five years to teach the entire faculty educational technology and to install 25 smart classrooms around the campus including labs. Each semester I had 10-14 faculty selected by the Faculty council. What their criteria was I have no clue. I took everyone they assigned to me. For taking the course of Instructional technology with me each Professor received a stipend of $1800. for a semester (14) weeks. At first I tried to do a group approach to Powerpoint but the Professors were so competitive and different in their technology skills that I had to switch to individual tutoring. I was allowed to hire a teaching assistant to help me with tutoring and tailoring each session to meet the individual Professor’s needs. If the Professor did not have a laptop, I loaned them one for the entire semester so long as they were enrolled in the Teacher learner Center program. I taught 85 professors in 4 1/2 years and managed to keep 60% of them as Graduate students. I had monthly meetings after the first class of Professors graduated to keep everyone informed as to the progress of the Federal Grant and to enlist their cooperation in recommending new professors for the TLC. Meanwhile, I had to train my secretary how to use Excel to keep track of our financial records. At the end of each Federal year we had to report all our financial expenditures to the U. S. Department of Education and the expenditures had to use all of the funding with only 10% carry-over from Calendar year. My teaching assistant had to be taught advanced Powerpoint skills and special software programs I discovered that were useful. Some Professors were able to learn Adobe Powerpoint, but not all because it was so difficult. I had to introduce easier software drawing and photo programs for Professors to us in their Powerpoint slide shows.
The lap top loaned program eventually replaced the out of date Desk Top computers provided by a private technology company which charged the College five million dollars for five years of technology, desktop computers and LAN access. Each summer I had all the laptops returned and my two assistants and I cleaned off all the junk and viruses on the Lap tops so that we could loan them out the next semester.
The first year game to an end the end of September 2001 and no smart classrooms were installed yet because the Director of Facilities would not cooperate. I had to go to the President and tell him I could not install any smart classrooms and that the grant would default because the Director of Facilities would not allow me to move forward. The President blew his top and told me to do what ever was necessary at all costs to complete five classrooms in the one weekend left. On classroom was a large lecture hall in the Biology building. I had a plumber friend climb into the ceiling crawlspace and remove an old fashion tri-color projector that weighed hundreds of pounds. We installed new compact $5,000 HD projectors that weighed 20 pounds into the ceiling. An electric screen was installed on the stage and a LAN wire connection was connected to the computer server in the building. By Monday it was completed. In the four remaining classrooms, all on the 3rd and 4th floor had the same HD projectors installed by an outside contractor for $25,000 total including projector and labor installation costs. LAN systems were installed and each room got a 37 inch TV hung on the wall with a CD player underneath. A remote controlled the projector and a Laptop on a cart was available on loan for every classroom. We finished on time and the Director of Facilities was fired.
Personalizing tutoring was the secret to success in the program and keeping professors active in the program with monthly dinner-meetings and an online WEB SITE with mini-courses made all the difference. I showed Professors that we cared for them. I even attended their lectures to help them with class motivation and creating exciting Powerpoint slides. When Professors graduated we gave them an award and recognition among their peers. Our newsletter was always about positive success stories of Professors that went though our program.
I reached out to the Fine Art Department, Communications Department and the Nursing Departments by helping them write Federal grants and remodeling their labs. With the Nurses I helped write two Nursing Grants and assisted other grants that were won. In the Communications department I completely redesigned and equipped two new Computer Labs with 20 new computers and HD projectors and electronic projector screens in each lab. Writing tablets and wireless mouses were also installed. In the Fine Art department I taught the faculty how to digitize their program and move away from chemicals. I taught them to use digital cameras and Adobe Photoshop to work with the photos. Years later they are forced out of their basement photo lab by the Fire department and forced to adopt a Digital course photo program for the students instead of a chemical developing lab. This saved money and was a lot safer for the students. In time the College of Mount Saint Vincent joined the modern world in Technology and after five years I accomplished all the goals set in the grant and balanced the budget to the penny. It was a great experience.