Meet the CAIFS Team

Additional Resources

The mission of the Center for Academic Innovation and Faculty Support (CAIFS) is to bring together the resources and talent of the University to support innovation and to expand opportunities for all faculty at USC Upstate. From instructional technology to active learning classrooms, from assessment tools to professional development initiatives, CAIFS programs and services are here to support the University’s objectives to be a model of excellence in rigorous, career-relevant, and accessible education that fosters an inclusive campus environment. Together, we can kindle and sustain a spirit of innovation as we approach the exciting and transformative academic work we do.

As part of the Center for Academic Innovation and Faculty Support, the Office of Distance Education offers a variety of services to faculty and students to facilitate high-quality design, delivery, accreditation, compliance, enrollment growth, and completion of online courses and programs. The Office of Distance Education also provides strategic leadership to faculty members and academic units to manage, develop, and coordinate the institution’s portfolio of distance education programs and courses. We aim to maintain the highest quality programs and most appropriate educational technology in alignment with the SREB Principles of Good Practice and the SACSCOC Policy Statement.


photo portrait of Celena Kusch

Celena E. Kusch, Ph.D.

Executive Director

kuschc@uscupstate.edu

Dr. Celena Kusch's areas of expertise include Conversion to Blackboard Ultra Course View, Peer Observation of Teaching, Campus Labs/Chalk and Wire ePortfolios, Custom Workshops, Degreeworks, Academic Innovation Projects, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Research Support, Blackboard Organizations for Institutional Training and Virtual Process Transitions. Dr. Kusch is also a professor of American literature and a Women's and Gender Studies Faculty Affiliate. She teaches classes focused on 20th- and 21st-century American literature and postcolonial literature.

photo portrait of Lynda Davis

Lynda Davis

Administrative Assistant

davisls5@uscupstate.edu

Lynda Davis coordinates the CAIFS library of teaching and academic leadership books and provides Qualtrics survey hosting and construction support to aid faculty members in preparing short teaching or research surveys. 

Office of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy

The Office of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy provides vision and strategic leadership to guide institution-wide conversations about and implementation of principles of transformational learning and inclusive pedagogy. The Director of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy collaborates with academic units and individual faculty members to facilitate campus-wide inquiry and innovation in order to build academic resilience by design. Applying research-based best practices in the evolving field of higher education, the Director of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy leads a team of learning experience designers to determine needs, advise, and support faculty members and academic leadership in designing and assessing a range of program and classroom strategies, including inclusive pedagogy, active learning, technology- and media-enhanced instruction, experiential learning, and outcomes-based instruction.

photo portrait Toni DiMella

Toni DiMella, Ph.D.

Director of Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy

tdimella@uscupstate.edu

Dr. Toni DiMella's areas of expertise include Inclusive Pedagogy, Critical Pedagogy, Active Learning, Flipped Classrooms, Innovative STEM Course Design, Equity and Access in Online and Hybrid Courses, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in STEM. Prior to joining USC Upstate, she taught mathematics for 15 years on various grade levels, with 10 years at Mitchell Community College, and has piloted a number of projects over that time. Most projects involved the implementation of active learning strategies and teaching in non-traditional school and course settings, such as online learning, Early Colleges, and learning communities.

photo portrait of Jennifer Bland

Jennifer Bland

Learning Experience Designer

jbland2@uscupstate.edu

Jennifer Bland's areas of expertise include Active Learning, Active Learning Classroom scheduling and classroom technology, University 101, Starfish, Respondus Monitor Online Proctoring, Blackboard Ultra Course View Instructional Design. Prior to coming to USC Upstate Jennifer was a K-12 math teacher. She served as the faculty professional development program coordinator in the federally funded Title III Active Learning Grant from 2014-2019.  

photo portrait of Kristen Stevenson

Kristen Stevenson

Learning Experience Designer

ks71@uscupstate.edu

Kristen Stevenson's areas of expertise include Online Learning Instructional Design, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Online Student Readiness, Design Thinking Workshops. Kristen joined USC Upstate in late March 2020, and has served as a facilitator for the online teaching certification courses throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Prior to joining USC Upstate, she served as director of Distance Education at Limestone College. She also brings experience in architectural design and counseling and is currently pursuing research in social and emotional learning in online environments.

Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement

The Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement (OSLCE) was established in 2015 as a forum that cultivates strong reciprocal relationships between USC Upstate faculty, students and community organizations through professional development for faculty, partnerships for community organizations, and awards and support for students.

photo portrait of Dave Marlow in service learning project in Nicaragua

Dave Marlow, Ph.D.

Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement

dmarlow@uscupstate.edu

Dr. Dave Marlow's areas of expertise include Service Learning, eService Learning, Service Engagement, Community Engagement, High-Impact Practices, Civic Engagement. Dr. Marlow is also a professor of linguistics and English for Speakers of Other Languages. His research focuses on dialect diversity both within the region and internationally.