Connecting campuses to promote excellence in math and science

Speaker Consultant Exchange

The MCMS is launching a new program this year, 2007-08, called the Speaker-Consultant Exchange (SCE) aimed at facilitating more regular and more meaningful faculty visits between member campuses. For many years the MCMS has offered the Speaker Series and the Short-Term Consultations, and while the general perception among Consortium faculty is that these are valuable programs, they are consistently underutilized. In addition, spending the time and money to make a visit to another campus for the sole purpose of presenting a seminar seems, to some, like an expensive enterprise. And yet, as MCMS Director Nordell Pearson traveled to Consortium campuses in 2006 and 2007, faculty often mentioned a desire to get to know faculty at other member campuses, learn about successful programs, courses and research programs as well as identify potential collaborators. These conversations with faculty and Deans also revealed that the MCMS campuses house many experts in topics including grant writing, curriculum assessment, interdisciplinary programs, undergraduate research and instructional technologies. The Speaker-Consultant Exchange (SCE) program will provide departments the opportunity to send one faculty member to their assigned partner campus to present a seminar and serve as a consultant on some identified issue. In turn, that department will also host a faculty member from their partner campus to do the same for them. Our hope is that over the next several years departmental exchanges of speaker-consultants will foster greater familiarity and better connections between faculty, departments, programs and indeed campuses in the Consortium.

Description of the Speaker-Consultant Exchange (SCE)

Departments and programs at consortium campuses will indicate their interest in participating in the SCE for the 2007-08 academic year. This year we are offering eight disciplinary areas for the SCE: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geology, Math, Physics, and Psychology. Although not every school will have all of these departments or programs, and some have many more, we'd like to use this basic list for this first year. Once departments and programs have identified their interest in participating, the MCMS office will make assignments of partner schools that will exchange speaker-consultants sometime during the 07-08 academic year.

If for example, 8 of the 13 physics departments say they'd like to participate; 4 pairs of schools will be identified and those partners will exchange speaker-consultants. The choice of which faculty member makes the visit is flexible, but should be based on the idea that the visit is more than just an opportunity to present a seminar. The speaker-consultant might consult with the host department about a new course, a curriculum revision, undergraduate research projects, proposal writing, interdisciplinary programs, outreach programs or possible collaborations. The 'consultant' part of the visit is very flexible, but should be considered in addition to the 'speaker' component. Once the partner campuses have been assigned and the departments involved have identified faculty members to be the speaker-consultants, the campuses are free to schedule the visits anytime before May of 2008.

SCE Program Logistics

Deadline for the Intention to Participate: By Friday September 21st, departments or programs that would like to participate in the 2007-2008 SCE should contact their Consortium Representative (

SCE Assignments: Director Nordell Pearson will assign the SCE partnerships by Friday September 28th.

SCE Costs: The MCMS will cover the travel, lodging, and meal expenses for the visit. Please try to keep the visit expenses under $500, but we realize that some of the visits may be more expensive. Reimbursements will be handled by Marlene Field ( and the reimbursement form is posted below. The MCMS does not reimburse speaker honoraria or gifts.

Note about the current Speaker Series Program: Participation in this new SCE does not rule out using the existing Speaker Series program to support campus visits by other speakers. In fact, we welcome new additions to the online speaker database ( But for 2007-08, the SCE program will be given resource priority.

A Possible SCE Scenario

The Biology Departments at two of the MCMS campuses have indicated interest in the 07-08 SCE program and have been assigned as partner campuses. After conversations during a departmental meeting, faculty at one of the schools have identified several topics on which they'd appreciate some consultation; initiating an interdisciplinary connection between math and biology, applying for NSF-REU funding for summer undergraduate research and revamping the molecular biology laboratory. Likewise, faculty at the second campus met and decided that they could use consulting input in the areas of increasing participation in undergraduate research and finding financial support for upgrading several key instruments. The chairs of the two departments talk about these issues with each other and with their departments and together identify two colleagues to be the speaker-consultants for this year and set the dates for the visits. In addition to offering a seminar, the visits of the speaker-consultants are planned such that they can consult with faculty, students, staff and administrators as appropriate for the issues that are being discussed.

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