And the women have it . . .

This year’s medical class of 114 is the first to have more women (59) than men (55). The average cumulative grade point average was 3.75 and the average MCAT score was 33. About a third of the students are from Georgia, and five of the students already have graduate degrees.

Before SARS, there
was ARDS

As part of a recently launched study funded by a $7 million grant from the Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism branch of the National Institutes of Health, School of Medicine researchers are working to combat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and explore its association with chronic alcohol abuse. ARDS is a life-threatening condition that affects up to 150,000 Americans a year. Grady Hospital’s Marc Moss, section director of pulmonary, allergy, and critical care, will serve as principal investigator.















































































































Nineteen students are gathered on this cold, rainy Tuesday in a classroom in Pierce Hall at Oxford College. They break up into pairs to discuss their writing projects, all thematically linked to the concept of “self.”

Students could choose from several questions: Was there a point in your life that changed your sense of self? How was your sense of self formed? What was the role of your parents, family, and friends in the construction of your sense of self?

Charles Howard Candler Professor of English Lucas Carpenter is sitting in a swivel chair turned backward at the front of the room, arms crossed, as each student explains their partner’s paper.

“For men, money is the ultimate power. For women, looks can get you everywhere,” says a male student, whose topic is advertising and the media’s image of an ideal self.

Carpenter listens intently, sometimes interjecting comments, asking for clarification, or praising a creative approach. After each team has responded, he reads a short section from the course text, then launches into a discussion of the collective self.

“Are we, in fact, a country that has a collective identity?” Carpenter asks. “What defines us as Americans?”

When the bell rings, several members of the class gather around his desk to keep the discussion going. Such enthusiastic participation, says Carpenter, is his ultimate goal in the classroom.

“Never let the class get to the point where they can guess in advance what’s coming,” he says. “Know when to shift gears.”

In nearly two decades at Oxford, Carpenter, a poet and widely published author, has been honored with several teaching awards including the Fleming Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Oxford Professor of the Year. In 2003, he became the first Oxford professor to be honored with the University Scholar/Teacher Award, Emory’s highest faculty honor.

While faculty scholarship and research often grab the spotlight, in recent years, Emory has made great strides in recognizing teaching as an institutional value. Through the Center for Teaching and Curriculum, the University Teaching Fund, the University Advisory Council on Teaching, and mentor programs for new faculty, the University is looking for ways to support and spread the best practices for increasing student participation, engagement, and knowledge retention.

“Teaching may never be quantifiable–but something happens in the classroom when it’s working,” Carpenter says. “You sense that the students’ minds and intellects are actively engaged with yours.”

Oxford College, which has been selected as a national leader in the scholarship of teaching and learning by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Association for Higher Education, takes special pride in its innovative methods of undergraduate instruction.

“Oxford’s fifty faculty members continue a tradition of excellent teaching that reaches back to the college’s earliest days,” says Oxford Dean Dana Greene ’71G. “Professors typically abandon the standard classroom lecture for opportunities in cooperative learning, where teams of students work together on problems and projects that stress collaboration and individual responsibility, and put concepts they’ve learned in the classroom to the test in the real world.”

One example is the class “Social Change in Developing Societies,” which Carpenter has co-taught with Oxford sociology Professor Mike McQuaide for the past six years. During spring break, Carpenter and McQuaide annually chaperone students to Ecuador to study shamanism. They spend ten days in the Amazon jungle and the Andes Mountains, where they interview shamans and observe their rituals and ceremonies.

“Many of the students consider it a life-changing course,” Carpenter says. “We really do go to the limits of civilization–where the roads run out and the only access is by boat and trail.”

The payoff of teaching may be less tangible than inventing a new medication or putting the final touches on a seven-volume series, but as Carpenter admits in his poem, “Commencement”: “All these earnest, upturned faces/could support a jaded cynic/for life.”–M.J.L.



© 2004 Emory University