New center to provide support and recognition for teaching

In an effort to provide the kind of support for teaching that has traditionally been reserved for research, the College has established a Center for Teaching and Curriculum. The director of the Center, English Professor Walter Reed, sent a letter to College faculty on March 18, announcing, "The Emory Center for Teaching and Curriculum is open for business."

According to Reed, the germ of the idea for the Center came from a report informally known as "the Edwards Committee," a group of eight faculty members led by Professor of Psychology David Edwards. Their 1993 report, titled "Report on the Quality of Teaching in Emory College," included an assessment of the quality of teaching and recommendations for improvement. Among other things, the report welcomed initiatives from the dean of the College to "meet, departmentally and interdepartmentally, to discuss ways in which teaching can be improved." The discussions that followed the report, said Reed, eventually resulted in the creation of the Center, "handsomely funded," according to Reed, from the College's budget, as well as from the University and from an outside donor.

"I have been working on the concept and the early stages of the logistics of [the Center] for nearly three years now," said Dean of the College David Bright. Bright characterized the purpose of the Center as "to provide an analog and a link to the support of the research function. These are the twin and inseparable purposes of faculty activity, and we obviously should not, cannot and do not want to slow down the progress we are making in gaining national recognition for the research we do here. Support for the teaching function will allow that activity to also move forward unimpeded. In the end, it is intended to be a way of unifying and enhancing the faculty's professional activities."

Reed began meeting last fall with individuals and groups and getting feedback from faculty. "I took notes frantically," he said, "and compiled about 12 pages of good ideas." Reed and an eight-person planning group took those ideas and began meeting in January to formulate plans. The planning group consists of two people from each of the three divisions of the College, plus the holders of the two National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Chairs: Peggy Barlett, anthropology; Tom Flynn, philosophy; Jackie Irvine, educational studies; Paul Lennard, biology; Bob McCauley, philosophy and Distinguished Teaching Chair; Steve Nowicki, psychology; Sid Perkowitz, Physics; and Harry Rusche, English and Distinguished Teaching Chair; and Reed himself.

The group established four goals: to promote greater recognition of the excellent teaching already taking place in the College; to encourage a broader public discussion of teaching among faculty; to conduct qualitative, as distinct from quantitative, research about the attitudes of Emory undergraduates toward faculty teaching and their learning; and to provide more tangible support for faculty to develop new courses and new curricular initiatives.

They also began four initial projects: a set of annual awards for teaching excellence, beyond those already offered in the College (to be announced next fall); a series of lunch discussions on topics of general and particular interest to faculty in their teaching of undergraduates (two of those have taken place--on teaching evaluations and theory/practice learning); a research project focused on Emory students, using an outside consultant and former TATTO Teaching Fellows; and the provision for summer stipends for faculty who wish to plan new courses or significantly reconstruct existing ones.

"We've announced the teaching stipends for the summer," said Reed, "and have received a lively response." Those $5,000 awards are now available to both tenured and tenure-seeking faculty, as well as non-tenure track faculty who anticipate reappointment for 1996-97. "Those who receive them will devote the equivalent of one summer school session of work to the project," said Reed. He said that special consideration will be given to the development of collaborative or team taught courses and to interdisciplinary initiatives. Proposals to revamp existing department and program offerings are invited as well. The awards will be announced by May 8.

Applications will be judged by a committee; faculty may e-mail questions to Reed at <>.

-- Nancy M. Spitler

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