LEAP INdiana is a collaborative faculty network that aligns with the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ (AAC&U) Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) States Initiative. Its purpose is to establish and to sustain robust, meaningful connections among college and university faculty across the state of Indiana who are committed to quality and equity in student learning—particularly undergraduate student learning—by promoting faculty innovation, leadership, and exploration of pedagogy.
LEAP INdiana hosted its second annual conference, titled "Inclusive Excellence," at the Ivy Tech Community College Conference Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 7, 2017. Sponsored by faculty leaders from public institutions across Indiana, this daylong conference featured two best practices sessions consisting of three concurrent presentations each, a hands-on workshop, and two keynote addresses from Lynn Pasquerella, president of AAC&U, and Mary-Ann Winkelmes, coordinator of instructional development and research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and senior fellow of the AAC&U.
We are not only training professionals, but we are also contributing to the preparedness of individuals who will enter the larger society.-Michael Holsapple, Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo
Faculty, staff, and researchers statewide attended the conference for similar reasons. Soma Mukhopadhyay, program chair for chemical technology at Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette, shared that she chose to attend the conference to gain something new to implement into her lectures and assignments. Elizabeth Wager, lecturer in the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, explained that the conference is relevant to her work with diverse students, and she is able to learn from the ideas of others attending. Finally, Michael Holsapple, criminal justice professor at Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region, expressed the importance of learning from conferences such as LEAP. “We are not only training professionals, but we are also contributing to the preparedness of individuals who will enter the larger society,” he noted.
Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of IUPUI and Indiana project liaison for LEAP, concluded the conference by highlighting the areas of common interest and pursuit that bind the diverse faculty (from across institutions and disciplines) of LEAP together: transformation of student lives through education, assignments in which expectations are clearly understood by all students, elimination of gaps and promotion of equity regarding best campus experiences, and learning from each other. To emphasize this final pursuit, Johnson challenged participants to take ownership of the network by staying involved and by building on the relationships that were formed that day.
Johnson then reiterated the goals of the LEAP INdiana initiative, stating that LEAP INdiana hopes to continue its mission by connecting with existing networks, breaking down the barriers between tenure track and nontenure track faculty and between full-time and part-time faculty, ensuring that all faculty have access to the LEAP network, and expanding its leadership development efforts.