Fall Semester 2016 Kicks Off with Enhanced Faculty and Refined Academic Agenda

September 02, 2016

AUBG begins the new academic year with exciting news in terms of faculty and academic agenda.

During the summer, six faculty members received promotion in rank. Four academics were promoted from associate professors to professors and two advanced from assistant professors to associate professors.

Rossitsa Gradeva, Diego Lucci and Markus Wien are now professors in history and Sean Homer is professor in writing and literature. Georgi Kalchev and Emilia Zankina are associate professors in economics and political science respectively. Kalchev will be chairing the economics department as well.

“The number of faculty promoted to full professor is especially gratifying; it is a testament to the quality of academic scholarship at AUBG,” commented AUBG Dean of Faculty Robert White.

AUBG tops the Bulgarian national ranking of academic disciplines in almost all areas and this is largely due to the quality of faculty, Provost Emilia Zankina also commented. “We have faculty from 17 countries educated in Europe, America, New Zealand and Australia, who are really devoted to their students, to the idea of knowledge transfer and to their academic areas as well,” she added.

Faculty promotion is an elaborate process. “Every year we have a very strict evaluation of faculty,” Zankina said. “Along with this evaluation, we have a promotion in rank, which is very valuable in the realm of academics,” she explained.

White described the process in detail. “Faculty have their research work reviewed and assessed by international experts in their field. For appointment to associate professor, three experts need to support the promotion. For appointment to full professor, five experts need to support the promotion. The assessment of the international experts is reviewed by an internal committee who makes a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost makes a recommendation to the President, who makes the final decision. Faculty members also need to demonstrate a certain level of performance in teaching and service to be eligible for promotion,” he recounted.

The Fall ’16 semester also brings students the opportunity to meet the new AUBG professors. “We are fortunate at the high caliber of faculty we have been able to hire in recent years,” White commented.

The business and JMC departments are the ones who can boast the most new members. The new faculty joining the BUS department are Andrew Bernstein, Alec Campbell and Arthur Pantelides.

Bernstein will be taking over the business ethics class White used to teach before his appointment as dean of faculty. Campbell is a practitioner teaching courses in digital marketing, negotiations, and entrepreneurship. He is also the head of the Aspire creative co-working space, whose goal is to bring students together to share ideas and collaborate.

Pantelides will be teaching strategic management and conflict management.

The new additions to the JMC faculty are Cyle O'Donnell, Giles Timms and Laura Kelly. O'Donnell will be teaching courses in the area of multimedia and video journalism as well as film making. Timms will be taking over the design and layout class and will also teach visual communications. Laura Kelly is a professor who has taught at AUBG before and will educate students in writing for media and digital storytelling.

Ilya Levine is joining the politics department from New Zealand and will be teaching courses in international relations.

In addition, AUBG will offer weekend practitioner courses in IT taught by alumni.

“They face different challenges. Most of the American faculty are familiar with an American liberal arts education, so they only face the challenge of shifting to a different country and culture. Other faculty face the challenge of a different educational system. All are fortunate in that we have support systems in place to help them make this transition,” White commented.

The new school year begins with a refined academic agenda as well. Some of the new initiatives are a revamped Orientation Week which includes survival skill workshops. “We think they will provide our freshmen with essential skills that will help them excel in classes as well,” Zankina said.

AUBG will also offer classes in psychology and has initiated a project to review its general education requirements. “We have a wonderful liberal arts curriculum and wonderful requirements, but we feel like we need to revisit those requirements,” Zankina explained. “We are really committed to the liberal arts model and the idea that students should experiment with their ideas and talents and have a broader view and broader knowledge, but we are trying to adjust what we had in the past to the latest trend in education,” she elaborated.

“I think the most exciting thing is our 25th anniversary. We are celebrating 25 years of success: we have over 4,000 alumni all over the world now, we have the best career placement of our graduates both in business and in academic programs throughout the world, so there’s really a lot to celebrate,” Zankina noted.

“Enjoy yourselves. University life is hard work, for both students and faculty, but it is the type of hard work that, at the end of the day, you can say, ‘It was worth it,’” White addressed both students and faculty at the start of the new academic year.

Story by Despina Koleva-Hristova 

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