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December 2020
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Dr. Parker's Corner

Dear Colleagues,


National University believes that holistic wellness is essential to student learning and success. NU is committed to offering the best support services for our entire academic community. We understand that the success and wellbeing of our students rest on ensuring our faculty are our highest priority.

Although our modern lifestyles frequently inundate us with stimuli from technology, family, and work, I encourage you all to focus on the basics by getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthily, and trying a simple walk – all can do wonders for decreasing stress levels. This edition of Academy Insights highlights the importance of wellness and provides insight into services that can help all members of our community to recognize that wellness is central to the learning environment.


Dr. Durrel Parker

Director, Adjunct Faculty Services

Featured Topic: Holiday Wellness

The 2020 holiday season is upon us, and, across the country, people are dramatically altering their plans for traditional celebrations and family gatherings in response to COVID-19. The holidays are undoubtedly one of the busiest times of any year and, with the added stress of final projects, exams, and grading, we could all benefit from an extra helping of compassion and understanding to balance out the heaviness of the pandemic. This month, Academy Insights shines its spotlight on both faculty and student wellness.

Faculty Wellness Resources


​All National University faculty and their household members have access to Cigna’s Life Assistance Program. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this program offers support, guidance, and resources on a wide range of topics including stress and anxiety, relationship problems, and health and wellness concerns. To learn more about this program, download the Life Assistance Program Flyer or call 800.538.3543.


Get started with a visit to the Cigna Life Assistance website today.

Supporting Student Wellness

Reaching out for help is one of the most important things a person can do when under stress, but as we know, that can be even more difficult during these uncertain times. Students may be isolated from their regular support groups and communities and might share their feelings and experiences in class discussions or emails to their instructors. Academy Insights asked National University’s Assistant Manager for Student Wellness, Ashley Maakestad, where faculty members can go to find resources to respond to a student who may be in trouble.

The most helpful place in terms of resources to support faculty navigate how to support students is our SharePoint site. (SSO login required)


The following documents are especially helpful: 


National University students also have free access to SilverCloud, a secure service which offers evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) modules that can help students manage depression and anxiety, develop their stress-management skills, and encourage healthy habits. 

If you believe that your students would benefit from this resource, feel free to share this link with them in a class announcement or, if appropriate, in a private email message.

Ashley offered one more suggestion for smoothly navigating this time with your students: consider the language you choose in your communications. A well-intentioned “Have a wonderful time with your family this holiday!” may not be received as in previous years by students who have lost loved ones or are celebrating alone, unable to be with their extended family. Consider alternatives like “I hope your winter break is restful!” and “I hope you can find a bit of time off to relax and enjoy the break!”

From Your Teaching and Learning Team
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Faculty play a critical role in student success and, in the world of online education, it is important to find meaningful ways to connect with our students. Check out the Coaching and Mentoring articles available on the Office of Teaching and Learning Strategies website to learn more about the impact faculty have on students’ academic and professional success.

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Looking for more resources? Download these one-page handouts designed by OTLS to improve students navigate the challenges of asynchronous online learning:

Check out all of our FREE on-demand resources  at on our website.

Adjunct Faculty Perk: LifeMart

All NU faculty are eligible to participate in the LifeMart member discount program. Take advantage of savings just in time for the holidays on flowers, gift baskets, and gourmet foods, as well as restaurant gift certificates, at-home fitness videos and apps, and learning resources.

To sign up, visit and enter registration code: WFCLIENT

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Maha Asham

College of Professional Studies Core Adjunct Faculty member Dr. Maha Asham served as a front-line respondent to the pandemic in a senior global health expert capacity. Dr. Asham, an alumnus of Johns Hopkins University, has been working to raise awareness of community members and corporations to help them prepare for COVID-19. Her work debunks COVID-19 myths, misinformation, and rumors that are prevalent among numerous social media platforms.


Dr. Asham also works with community organizations and leaders on developing culturally acceptable COVID-19 prevention intervention, and information campaigns in their communities and workplaces, correcting misguided hygiene and prevention practices.  In April of this year, Maha participated in and contributed to the World Health Organization’s ad hoc technical consultation on the COVID-19 infodemic. Readers can download the findings of this group on the WHO’s website.


Want to be featured in an upcoming Faculty Spotlight?

Share your accomplishments by visiting the Academy Insights webpage and fill out the spotlight form.

From Our VP

I would like to take a moment to thank you for your feedback on the Effective Online Instruction Survey.  We received over 200 responses!  You can find the initial survey results here.

Insights from the results express your commitment to building and supporting a Community of Inquiry.  This framework can provide educators a guide to creating healthy online communities, engaged in deep and meaningful learning.   


As an educator, this is my personal lifetime goal – empowering and developing student curiosity that leads to deeper understanding. We will continue to summarize and analyze the individual comments and share peer examples and input in a future edition of Academy Insights. 


As the Holiday Season approaches and we begin to wrap up 2020, I would like to thank you for your dedication to our students.  This has not been an easy year, one that has challenged all of us to find patience and perseverance.  I would like to believe, that education and instruction have played an integral role in our resiliency.  As Colleen Wilcox stated, “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” Thank you for providing both an education and hope to National University students.  I hope you have a wonderful and restful Holiday Season! 

P.S. We will be sure to send additional updates about the Learning Management System transition to Brightspace in the coming months.  You can find early resources and information at our Brightspace webpage.

Dr. Shannon McCarty

Vice President, Teaching and Learning