Cover Letter

Dear Dr. Karen Friedlen, Dr. Kathleen Dougherty, and members of the Promotion and Tenure Committee:

This portfolio contains my application materials for promotion to full professor. Assembling this portfolio has helped me realize how much I’ve grown and developed as a teacher during my last nine years at Mount Mary. I spent many years in “corporate America” before deciding to pursue teaching full-time. I worked as a managing editor of a multi-million dollar publishing company; I was a ghostwriter for executives at Fortune 500 companies, including Morningstar and Fidelity National Financial; I wrote website copy for one of the largest kitchen tool distributors in the country. While this experience was invaluable, I never thought, “Hey, I could do this for the rest of my life.” That’s not so with teaching. I love the challenge of teaching. No two classes, nor students, are the same, and I am constantly revising my pedagogy, course materials and teaching strategies to better serve my students. It is a continuous process of observation, contemplation and revision, and through this process, I find myself growing as a person – and as a teacher – every day. This portfolio is a reflection of that process. In the coming pages, you will find materials that demonstrate my growth in three key areas: teaching, service and professional/scholarly development.


This section of my portfolio demonstrates the diverse array of classes that I have taught at Mount Mary, both undergraduate and graduate – from journalism to new media writing to creative writing – as well as the level of detail and attention that I pay to each and every course. You will find copies of my syllabi, class handouts, assignment and grading sheets, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, exams, and select graded assignments. Please note that I did not include every handout or assignment from every class; my goal was to provide you with a sampling of my materials, rather than a complete library. For classes that I taught multiple times, such as Arches, I provided copies of each syllabus, and sample materials that I used in each class.



The service section of the portfolio provides a glimpse of my service activities during the past three years. In my reflection letter, I speak about my time as an alternate on the Promotion & Tenure Committee, as a member of the Curriculum Committee, and as a member of the Innovative Technology in Education Committee (ITEC). During the 2013-2014 academic year, I was elected to the Promotion & Tenure Committee as an alternate, and I am pleased that I will be a full member of the committee beginning fall 2016.

However, a great deal of my service to the University is through my work as the student media adviser. While some students earn credit for working on Arches, most participate as members of the student organization. In my reflection letter, I explain the rewards and challenges of advising a student publication.

You will find sample documents from Arches in the “Teaching Materials” section of the portfolio, as well as copies of each edition of the magazine from the last three years. Since I began advising, we did three major redesigns of the publication, transitioned from a newspaper to a magazine, launched the Arches website, and completed three redesigns of the website (the most recent was completed in January 2016). I encourage you to visit the site. My goal is that the website will not simply be an electronic version of the print edition of the magazine; rather, it will be the student body’s primary source of daily news information.

My service to the University expanded when I became department chair in August 2014. Chairing has been a demanding, yet rewarding, experience. I have learned so much about the University and the English department since assuming my role of chair. I have a better knowledge of the curriculum and a better understanding of University operations. Details of my accomplishments as chair can be viewed in the “Department Chair – Highlights & Accomplishments” section of my portfolio. Please refer to my reflection letter for thoughts about my future goals as chair and areas of improvement.

Professional/Scholarly Development

The “Professional Materials” section of my portfolio includes copies of selected articles that I have published for various magazines and professional publications during the last several years. I have published more than 400 articles and professional pieces, so this is by no means an exhaustive list; rather, it is a sample of some of my professional pieces, so you can see the range and breadth of my publishing record. If you would like to view additional publications, please contact me – I’d be happy to provide them.

In addition, in the “Conference Presentations/Attendance” section of this portfolio, I included copies of presentations I did for BlogHer, the world’s largest conference for online content producers, as well as various journalism conferences. I have presented at numerous regional and national conferences during the last three years; a complete list of these conferences is included in this section. In the coming years, I’d like to expand my publishing efforts and continue to present at regional and national conferences, a goal that I more thoroughly describe in the reflection statement.

Finally, please review my faculty updates. While my reflection letter discusses in general terms the efforts I make to update my courses each year, the faculty updates discuss this in great detail, with specific information about each individual course.

Thank you for taking the time to review this portfolio. If you find that any of the materials need clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me. Furthermore, I have a plethora of supplemental materials, which I’d be happy to provide to you should you need additional samples. I greatly appreciate your hard work, time and attention, and I look forward to your feedback.

Developing this portfolio was a daunting process, but I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my journey at Mount Mary. It reminded me not only of how far I have come, but how far I have left to go. I am invigorated by the possibilities that lie before me.


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Laura Otto, MFA
Chair, English Department
Associate Professor of English
Arches Adviser
Mount Mary University