Tony Scott's Journey from Student to Director of Faculty Development and Support at CCAPS
Tony Scott is what some might call a “lifer” in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS). After graduating in the late nineteen-nineties from CCAPS’s Inter-College Program in advising, he was hired in the College’s Information Center as a learner representative, fielding questions from students about a host of credit and noncredit programs offered by the College.
“I really enjoyed that job,” says Scott, “because it exposed me to a lot of the University. We were getting calls not only for CCAPS programs but often would need to direct people to other programs outside of CCAPS. I also had a wonderful supervisor who was big on training and encouraged me to complete my MBA during that time.”
After a few years as a learner rep, Scott was drafted into academic advising for Undergraduate Applied and Professional Studies (UAPS) programs on the strength of his vast program knowledge and advising degree. From 2009 through 2020, he helped students navigate the applied programs: Health Services Management (HSM), Construction Management, and Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI). In January 2021, Scott took over as director of UAPS, working with faculty directors, advisory boards, and other stakeholders to ensure that the programs meet the learning objective that students entering the workforce have the knowledge and capabilities to be successful in their field.
This year, Scott took on a new role as director of faculty development and support for UAPS, with the goal of supporting adjunct faculty.
This is a new position for you and for the College. What was the catalyst for developing this new role?
Our CCAPS faculty are fabulous. They bring their industry knowledge, skills, expertise, and passion to teach to our learners. So, how do we support the growth and development of our educators since they are not full-time or tenured faculty at the U?
The director of faculty development and support position was created for that reason. This position provides leadership, guidance, and resources to enhance the professional growth and effectiveness of our undergraduate faculty members. I am responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive programs and initiatives that support faculty members in their teaching, training, and service responsibilities.
What intrigues you about the director of faculty development and support role?
There are two things that intrigue me: learning and coaching. Like our students, I am a lifelong learner. I enjoy acquiring new knowledge. With this position, you can imagine the amount of new learning that is going on for me. I have been helped by learning that there is a network (POD—Professional and Organizational Development Network) of professionals around the world working to support the faculty in their colleges and universities.
The second is coaching. I have been a recreational coach for many years. I want to transfer my experience of helping individuals and teams develop and be successful to helping our instructors develop and sustain their teaching excellence. One idea I have is to develop a virtual teaching and learning center for instructors, a place where there would be a repository of resources (articles, videos, trainings, and the like) to support seasoned and new instructors.
In your years as an advisor, how did you help students find their best path forward?
First, I wanted to learn what their objectives were with their education. So, for example, if they were looking at the ITI program, I’d ask, “OK, what do you want to do?” If I heard they're not as interested in programming and software development, but they like working with some of the physical hardware like computers, networks, and systems because they are the go-to person with family and friends, I knew that the ITI program might be right for them.
My goal was to not only help them navigate the University of Minnesota and get through their program, but also have a meaningful experience while doing so. It was also my job to help them go from point A to point B without wasting time and money. That involved evaluating their transcript from the U or from another college to see what could be counted as transferable credits in that program. I didn't like seeing students spinning their wheels or spending their money on credits they may already have satisfied in some other way. So, I looked for opportunities to apply their previous learning toward that program.
As someone with a bird’s eye view of the higher ed landscape, what trends are you seeing in how education is delivered?
A few years back, the trend was massive open online courses, called MOOCs. Many colleges and universities began experimenting with online course offerings to attract large numbers of students; the University of Minnesota was no different. However, I began hearing from some of my students who were taking lots of online courses that they also wanted the on-campus experience. CCAPS is unique in that we already had a structure in place that allows us to offer hybrid courses that many other colleges and units didn’t have.
And it doesn’t always have to be synchronous learning (interactive between instructor and student); it could be asynchronous (virtual but without an instructor present) as well. So that seems to be the direction we’re going in now. Everyone has learned to be on Zoom calls or Google Meet and people like that now.
Another trend is that we’re breaking bachelor’s programs down into tracks or sub-plans. All students take foundational courses to learn the fundamentals of their discipline while they home in on an area of interest. So, for ITI, a student can focus on cybersecurity or big data, for example. Some focus area options within the HSM program are emergency management and long-term care. And for Construction Management there’s commercial construction and residential construction, to name just a couple.
Is there room for growth and collaboration across the University system?
Yes, there is lots of room to grow and collaborate with other colleges and units on campus. We have a number of strategic partners on campus that we work with and have great relationships with. For example, we have faculty from other departments, such as the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Design, and the School of Public Health, serving on our advisory boards and teaching our courses. And CCAPS is partnering with the Minnesota Design Center on a course in human-centered design. These partnerships help improve our curriculum in order to better serve our students.
I believe everyone who works at the University shares the same values and goals, which are to help all who walk the University of Minnesota campus to discover their best selves.
What part of your career has been the most fulfilling?
The most fulfilling part of my career—and this is probably true for anyone who works in higher education—is to see the success of a student who overcame the odds to earn their degree. I have met with students who were broken and unsure that college was right for them. But I knew, with a little support and encouragement, that they would find a sense of self worth and realize that what they thought was impossible they had just achieved. I beam with pride at every commencement to know I had a little part in the success of our University of Minnesota graduating students.
My career at CCAPS is ever-evolving. I went from advising students to working with faculty directors. And now I’m learning how to help our UAPS faculty be better trained, better equipped in their classes to support the mission of CCAPS which, at its heart, is student success.
Monique Dubos is a writer and content strategist with the U of M College of Continuing and Professionals Studies, where she has covered the College’s noncredit professional development, construction management, health services management, and IT infrastructure programs since 2018. She has also written for the Institute on the Environment, the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, and various publications. Connect with her via LinkedIn.