Faculty Senate President's Column - September 2011

Summer’s heat has been replaced with cooler fall temperatures just in time for the on-campus heat of a new semester to kick in. As is our norm, the FHSU community is thinking about ways to stay innovative and provide a top-notch education to our students. FHSU is participating in an exciting new project established by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) known as the “Red Balloon Project” named after a Defense Department project that offered a prize to the first group of people that could locate ten red weather balloons strategically placed around the country. Using social networking and crowds, the winning group took less than ten hours to find all balloons. AASCU President George Mehaffey has challenged member colleges to think broadly and strategically about using the wisdom of crowds to re-imagine higher education. Using technology, we can adapt to the challenges of a new higher education environment and lead into a brave new networked world.

Both President Hammond and Provost Gould have evangelized on our campus about the Red Balloon Project, and as someone who sees potential to lead with technology rather than fight it, I am asking the FHSU Senate to create a Red Balloon Task Force where we will look to using technology to make our jobs more efficient, innovate in our teaching, and advance our research. A wonderful new faculty resource, an online portal, has just launched after a year of hard work by our Computing and Telecommunications Center. We can build on the new portal, called Tiger Central, to share knowledge, eliminate redundancy, and be more flexible in our work. Part of the ethic of higher education is to share and grow knowledge. Online social media provides the greatest opportunity in world history to collaborate and expand knowledge. We might not have red balloons to track down, but we do have a fantastic opportunity to seek the solutions to other mysteries. I intend for the FHSU Faculty Senate to play a role in this great new adventure.