Notre Dame College Faculty, Staff Commence Professional Campus Learning Community

Notre Dame College faculty and staff are collaborating beyond their customary interactions to help students find purpose.

The College’s inaugural, interdisciplinary Professional Learning Community (PLC) gathers voluntarily to share knowledge and generate new service, community and experiential learning opportunities for students on campus. The group of about 25 faculty and staff members conducts its first formal discussions this spring semester.

The forum’s initial emphasis is on “Helping Students Find Their Why! Vocation in Undergraduate Education.” The PLC’s intention is to better aid each Notre Dame student in exploring vocations and discerning his or her life’s purpose within the context of the College’s mission, academics and co-curricular programs.

Each PLC member is reading one of two books: At This Time and in This Place: Vocation and Higher Education or The Purposeful Graduate: Why Colleges Must Talk to Students About Vocation. During their discourse, faculty and staff are expected to share their own personal “whys.”

Learning Initiatives

Formation of this first PLC is supported by Notre Dame’s Council of Independent Colleges Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (CIC NetVUE) grant “Preparing Students for a Life of Value and Service.”

In discussing research and scholarship to enhance educational opportunities and outcomes for students, members of the PLC advance their own professional and vocational development. They also build community across academic disciplines, administrative departments, employee classifications and office spaces on campus.

The group plans to explore ways in which all Notre Dame faculty and staff—individually and collectively—can help students find life purposes. The PLC will consider options to improve vocational awareness and discernment systemically at the institutional level as well.

Members are encouraged to design and implement projects and programs to aid students in exploring vocations in ways that align with the College mission and then to share those experiences among the collaborative.

Leadership Inspiration

A learning community of professionals generally researches and learns together, collects data and shares results with its organization, often resulting in the adoption of new methods or techniques institution-wide. Studies show PLCs can improve interdisciplinary communication, teaching and learning, collaboration and reflection.

The Notre Dame PLC is facilitated by the College’s community-based learning team. R. Eric Matthews, Ph.D., interim associate dean of undergraduate programs and assistant professor of political science, and Tracey T. Meilander, Ph.D., director of Choose Ohio First STEMM@NDC, STEMM Living-Learning Community director and associate professor of biology serve as co-directors of community-based learning on campus.

Meilander said inspiration to develop a PLC came after experiences at CIC NetVUE and The Original Lilly conferences and the desire by faculty and staff to help students develop a life of meaning.

Members of the leadership team include Ted Steiner, director of campus ministry; Elizabeth Cappabianca, coordinator of student engagement; Anita Yoder, coordinator of campus ministry, and Cheryl Noviski, controller.

Initial Membership

Initial members of the PLC are: Brenda Bailey, CPRW, services coordinator for the Academic Support Center; Joyce A. Banjac, Ph.D., interim dean of the Finn Center for Adult, Graduate and Professional Programs; Ernest H. Brass III, M.A., adjunct instructor in business administration/corporate finance; Sue E. Corbin, Ph.D., assistant professor and accreditation chair for the Division of Professional Education; Gina Flynn, J.D., senior assistant director of the Academic Support Center; John P. Galovic, Ed.D., vice president of strategic initiatives; Laurel Greene Kaiser, MSW, LISW, first generation student program coordinator; Karen Groth, Ph.D., director of assessment and accreditation and associate professor of psychology; J. Edward Hackett, Ph.D., visiting instructor of philosophy; Crystal Howitt, M.A., advisor; Megan Huff, Student Success Center; Sr. Karita Ivancic, SND, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and music; Denise Johnson, enrollment counselor; April Kennedy, job shadowing coordinator; Gregory P. Knapik, Ph.D., DNP, assistant professor of nursing; Ken Palko, M.A., associate professor of philosophy; Karen Poelking, M.Ed., vice president of board and community relations; Michele Polak, Ph.D., assistant professor, English and composition director; Sr. Eileen Quinlan, SND, Ph.D., professor of English/communication; Reed Simon, MFA, associate professor of fine arts; Carol Sisson, senior instructional advisor for the Academic Support Center; and Katie Wetherbee, learning specialist for the Academic Support Center.


About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or



May 28
11:30 AM
Monday May 28, 11:30am
Christ the King Chapel, 3rd Floor Admin Bldg.
E.g., 06/27/18
E.g., 06/27/18