The History of FITL


In 1998, a Faculty Institute on Technology (FIT) was proposed and funded by the Office of the Provost after faculty voiced a strong need for support in learning the latest teaching and learning technologies. A committee of more than 40 faculty, administrators and staff were organized to plan and implement the four-day Faculty Institute on Technology following commencement in May of that year. Attendance exceeded expectations when more than 125 faculty attended FIT and participated in workshops on instructional technologies to enhance teaching and learning. The workshops were interwoven with special speakers, technology fairs and social events. Topics included distance learning, the web as an instructional tool, and various software demonstrations.


Because of the overwhelming success of the first FIT, a second Faculty Institute was developed for 1999. This time the focus was expanded to showcase the pedagogy that drives the appropriate use of technology. To reflect this change, the title was changed to the Faculty Institute on Teaching and Technology (FITT). Participation expanded to 155 faculty who attended the four days of workshops, presentations and demonstrations.


A Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning (FITL) was offered in 2002 with a name change and focus that reflected an increased emphasis on student learning. More than 100 faculty and staff attended the two-day event that included sessions by faculty and staff from the Center for Quality and Applied Statistics, Educational Technology Center, Learning Development Center, Online Learning and Wallace Library. In addition, four external experts, Dr. Peter Gray of Syracuse University, Dr. Richard Light of Harvard University, Dr. Charles Walker of St. Bonaventure University, and Dr. Maryellen Weimer of Pennsylvania State University, added their perspectives on outcomes assessment, student learning, advising, and faculty vitality.


Three two-day Faculty Institutes were held during the 2002-2003 academic year. The Faculty Institute on Advising was held in November 2002 and included sessions by external consultant Tom Brown of Tom Brown Associates and faculty and staff from Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Barbara Millis of the United States Air Force Academy, Ginny Hronek of Dynamix Training and Consulting, and staff from Online Learning presented at the Faculty Institute on Active Learning in January 2003.

The May 2003 Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning built upon the successful experiences of the previous years. In addition to sessions from external experts, Tom Brown of Tom Brown Associates, Steve Ehrmann of the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group, and Joan Hoffman of Rochester's Strong Museum, a first-time solicitation for presentations resulted in more than 60 RIT faculty and staff sharing their expertise and experiences on teaching and learning through more than 35 workshops, panels and sessions. LaughingStock Comedy Company provided lunchtime entertainment. More than 200 faculty and staff registered for the event.


The 5th Annual Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning was held at RIT on May 25-26, 2004. The conference theme, "Communities of Practice," invited attendees to consider their daily activities and the communities to which they belong in their role(s) of teacher, learner, developer, advisor, administrator, or consultant. Keynote speaker Mark David Milliron, President and CEO of League for Innovation, explored teaching excellence, student success strategies, and future trends. In addition over 65 of our talented RIT faculty and staff, plus external guests Joan Hoffman of Strong Museum, Elaine Miller of SUNY Brockport and Dana Abramson of Corbi Systems, presented concurrent sessions throughout the 1-1/2 days.


Due to the continued success of the annual FITL conferences, May 24, 2005, saw over 200 faculty and staff attend the 6 th conference at RIT. This event was packed with 17 presentations by RIT's own faculty and staff focusing on improving teaching and learning at RIT. Attendees had ample time to mix and mingle in the outstanding facilities in the Golisano building.


Almost 250 faculty and staff "cruised" through FITL 2006, an action-packed 1-1/2 days held May 30-31 in Gosnell College of Science building. In addition to RIT faculty and staff, the speakers included Tom Brown and Maryellen Weimer, plus new-to-FITL speakers Todd Zakrajsek (Central Michigan University), and Sharon Cramer and Gerard Puccio (Buffalo State College). Day One featured two keynote addresses plus a variety of concurrent sessions. Day Two featured keynote Kit Mayberry, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and two-hour concurrent workshops. New this year was a campus resource fair that highlighted various campus departments.


In 2007 FITL moved to the RIT Inn and Conference Center for an off-site experience. Our special guest keynote Steve Cohen, the Millionaire’s Magician, determined the theme, "The Magic of Teaching and Learning". In addition to Mr. Cohen, the conference highlighted Dr. Chris Anson, J. H. Barr, Dr. Christopher Knapper, Dr. Donald Lifton, as well as RIT faculty and professional staff.


FITL 2008, the 8th annual faculty and staff conference, was held May 28-29, 2008, at the RIT Inn and Conference Center. Featured speakers this year: Kick-off Keynote, Dr. Keith Sawyer, a professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of the country's leading scientific experts on creativity and learning; Dr. Doug Robertson, Assistant Provost and Professor at Northern Kentucky University, has authored or co-edited six books and numerous peer-reviewed publications; he spoke on balancing faculty work life and avoiding chronic overload; Dr. Doug Guiffrida, currently a counselor educator at the University of Rochester, provided an overview of his research that has investigated the African American College student experience at predominantly white colleges and thus assists college faculty and administrators in preparing and supporting their African American students; Dr. Destler, RIT's President, presented his 23 points for good teaching; and 47 RIT Faculty and Professional Staff presented a variety of stimulating sessions. The 2008 complimentary book was "Deep Economy" the book all first-year students were to read.


FITL 2009 had 250 attendees "...boldly going where no one had gone before" in teaching and learning. For the kick-off Associate Provost Dr. Lynn Wild greeted the earthling audience via a special, ETC-produced video Star Trek parody, she beamed down to earth; and then greeted Provost Haefner, presenting him with his official Star Trek shirt. Held May 27-28, 2009 at the RIT Inn and Conference Center, RIT faculty/professional staff were joined by SUNY Geneseo, Nazareth College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Syracuse University, and Ithaca College representatives who presented as well as attended. Guest keynotes included Dr. James Zull, Professor of Biology and Director of University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve University who is a leader in linking brain research to teaching and learning, and Dr. Barry Johnson, Founder and President of Polarity Management Associates, is the author of Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems and international expert in organizational and management development. In addition a poster session with 25 presentations filled the hallways and included a special room displaying classroom technologies. Through many fascinating sessions during the 1-1/2 days, attendees were subliminally encouraged to "Learn Long and Prosper".

The Faculty Institutes continue to be sponsored by the Provost's Office illustrating a commitment to providing a collegial and welcoming environment where faculty, librarians, instructional support staff and administrators can learn about and share research, best practices, ideas, and strategies for teaching, learning, and advising.

We welcome your feedback and thoughts on how we can continue to ensure that FITL is an exemplary professional development opportunity for you.


In 2010, 275 attendees got that "Finger Lakes Feeling" at the annual conference! The 11th annual RIT Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning brought together faculty from across the region to share their research, ideas and best practices for teaching and learning. Once again, we welcomed RIT and regional college faculty and staff as both attendees and presenters, plus a group of 20 graduate students from the SUNY Geneseo Residence Life program. We had 30 presentations and workshops, plus a poster session featured a variety of topics and projects from this year's RIT Faculty Learning Community cohort. The first day closed with a fun reception featuring great give-a-ways; the second day found 175 attendees enjoying longer, more in-depth sessions, which provided an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the subject matter.

Keynotes featured were Dr. George Kuh and Dr. David Yearwood. Dr. Kuh, Chancellor's Professor and Director, Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, is the founding director of the widely-used National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). He has written extensively about student engagement, assessment, institutional improvement, and college and university cultures. Dr. Yearwood, Associate Professor and chair of the Technology Department at the University of North Dakota: his study of instructional technology is focused primarily on "Electronic Pedagogy"- how faculty infuse presentations or other technologies into their practice to connect and engage students. Their presentations, as well as others from FITL, are available on this web site.


RIT's annual Faculty Institute on Teaching & Learning (FITL) conference, held May 25-26, 2011 and sponsored by the Provost's office, featured the theme, "Developing Critical Thinkers for Today's Global Society." Critical thinking is a key skill our students need to develop. It is also the first of the five RIT essential program outcomes. Our 250 attendees included 51 faculty and staff from regional colleges. They enjoyed a day and a half of opportunities to learn, exchange ideas, and mingle with colleagues. Also featured was an opportunity for attendees to experience the latest in academic technologies with hands-on demos by The Wallace Center staff experts.

Keynote speakers were Dr. Stephen Brookfield (University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis) and Dr. Michele DiPietro (Kennesaw State University, Atlanta). Multiple presenters highlighted critical thinking research with practical experience in the break-out sessions. Thursday's keynote, Mark Greenfield, Director of the office of Web Services University at Buffalo, presented "Born to Be Wired: Technology, Communication & the Millennial Generation", highlighting social media and its effects on today's students. Keynotes and other presentations are available on this web site.


The 2012 Faculty Institute of Teaching and Learning drew over 270 RIT and regional faculty and staff attendees, featuring the theme, "Innovative Course Design". Over 20 RIT and regional faculty presenters shared innovative approaches to key learning elements, including assessment, student engagement, accessibility, and effective use of technology. Participants also had the opportunity to view a poster exhibit recognizing 12 RIT faculty who were nominated through the Provost-sponsored Educational Futures: A Faculty Showcase, held in April 2012.

FITL 2012 was also unique in that four national experts were invited to speak and hold workshops spanning a wide breadth of current trends and issues in higher education. Our keynote speaker Howard Rheingold, noted author and pioneer thinker, kicked off the event with a focus on 21st century literacies and how individuals and organizations learn to use digital media effectively and credibly. Nazareth co-sponsored Dr. Rheingold's participation. Dr. Mya Poe of Penn State University addressed student writing competencies with an emphasis on writing in the STEM disciplines; Dr. Robbie Melton, of the Tennessee Board of Regents' Office of Academic Affairs, provided a look at mobile learning technology's presence and relevance in higher education today; and Dr. Wendy Newstetter engaged faculty participants in current research related to effective instructional methods in the STEM disciplines.


After 14 years, RIT held its final Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning conference on Wednesday, May 22 at the RIT Inn and Conference Center.  This year, 200 attendees enjoyed our official themes of unlearning and work/life balance with guest speakers Jack Uldrich, renowned global futurist, who addressed the need to unlearn in order to learn; Bradford Berk, MD, PhD, CEO of University of Rochester's Medical Center, whose life-altering accident has resulted in a transformation of URMC's culture, inspired the audience with his story; Margaret Seidler, organization development consultant and Master Trainer in Polarity Management, spoke to advance effectiveness as an educator; and Lauren Dixon, Owner/CEO of Dixon Schwabl, whose culture of creativity and freedom has brought many awards to this Rochester marketing firm, powerfully spoke to how empowering employees and encouraging work-life balance leads to greater satisfaction and success in the organization.  The conference's "unofficial" theme of fiesta aided our attendees to celebrate the close of a very busy academic year.

RIT's faculty presenters, through lectures, panel discussions and participatory workshops, covered topics on digital humanities, writing habits, sustainability, the NSF ADVANCE grant transformation effort, the new MAGIC center and connectivity/networking.  Consistent with our work-life balance theme, our Better Me program provided a presentation and activities on including wellness activities as a lifestyle. 

New this year was our EXPO room that showcased several unique areas from The Wallace Center, including the RIT Press & Scholarly Publishing Studio, Cary Collection, "Paint Chip Poetry", RIT Archives, Digital Humanities. The Expo also included wellness information from our campus Better Me program, and a student poster exhibit on projects related to incorporating Sustainability in the classroom.

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