Pauline Gagnon (2012)

AIS recognized Pauline Gagnon, past president of AIS, for her contributions to the Association by bestowing on her the Newell Award for Exemplary Service.

AIS President Rick Szostak presented her with the award in ceremonies during the 2012 AIS Conference in Rochester, Michigan. She is the fourth recipient of the award, which was established in 2009.

Pauline, Chair of the Mass Communications and Theatre Department and Professor of Theatre at the University of West Georgia, has been a member of AIS since 1996. She first became involved in AIS when she participated in the Institute in Integrative Studies as the head of a three-person team from the University of West Georgia, where she was Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Writing Across the Curriculum at the time.

She gave her first AIS conference presentation on “Using AIS Standards in Assessing Interdisciplinary General Education Courses” in 2001 (in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers}. The following year she was elected to the AIS Board of Directors, where she has served for the last decade. Her rise to leadership within the Board was rapid: two years later she became Director of Development, and two years after that she was president-elect.

Her contributions to AIS have focused on the annual conference, consulting, the website, the initial internationalization of AIS, and most recently establishing Alpha Iota Sigma, the international honor society for interdisciplinary studies.

She has long been highly visible at AIS annual conferences. In 2003 she served as the first coordinator of the “Getting to Know AIS” sessions, and has contributed to most of them ever since. Similarly, she volunteered for the Guide session on curriculum. And for six of the last seven years she has teamed with Allen Repko on what has become known as the “Nuts & Bolts” workshop, which has introduced so many AIS members to self-consciously interdisciplinary teaching.

The Nuts & Bolts workshops are a direct outgrowth of her consulting on interdisciplinary curriculum development, which dates back to 1996 when she finished her six-month participation in the Institute in Integrative Studies. In 2002 she became the first AIS consultant trained by Beth Casey and Bill Newell. The practicum portion of that training was a joint two-day consultancy with Bill at the University of South Dakota, the second day of which she took over the lead role. USD was so impressed with her that they wrote a letter to The Chronicle of Higher Education praising the consulting services of AIS and Pauline in particular. Since then she has consulted at seven other institutions, most recently last year.

For members who may never have attended an AIS conference, she may be best known for her long-standing contributions as editor and lead reviewer of the peer-reviewed syllabi section of the AIS website. She took over that position from Marcia Seabury, who initially proposed the idea and oversaw its establishment. And Pauline has since assembled and coordinated able teams of reviewers, providing important opportunities for members not on the Board of Directors to make significant contributions to AIS. Over the years she has added new categories to that section of the website, enriching it as a resource for all interdisciplinary teachers.

As president she continued projects initiated by Carolyn Haynes on the future management of AIS and by Don Stowe on a redesign of the website. In retrospect, though, the chief contribution of her presidency may be the initial steps taken to internationalize AIS, which notably included the appointment of Lorraine Marshall and Machiel Keestra as international liaisons to the AIS Board of Directors.

Most recently Pauline has championed the establishment of an honor society. With Michelle Buchberger as co-coordinator, she led the formation of a group of pilot chapters and then the development of a mission statement and by-laws. The inaugural meeting of the National Council at the 2012 conference marked the founding of the International Honor Society for Interdisciplinary Studies.

In 2013, Pauline will continue her record of service to AIS as co-editor, with Gretchen Schulz, of the first edition of the association’s peer-reviewed academic journal under its new name, Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies.