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October 8, 2001

CTC breaks in new director, programs

By Eric Rangus,


When Robert McCauley first heard earlier this year he would be taking over as director of Emory College’s Center for Teaching and Curriculum (CTC), he sat down with the only director the center had known in its five years of existence, English Professor Walt Reed.

McCauley eventually met with Reed a half-dozen times, and it took half of those meetings before McCauley truly appreciated the scope of the CTC.

“You start seeing that [while] we have our mission and our interests and our focus, it’s inevitable that there are a lot of connections with other programs all around the College and the University,” McCauley said.

A professor of philosophy, McCauley was hardly a stranger to the CTC. He served on its advisory committee for two years and also sat on the steering committee that guided the center’s creation.

“It took me a while to get a grasp on all the things that were happening,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s also fun thinking about further initiatives.”

One of those challenges is wading through the alphabet soup of organizations the CTC partners with: UAC (the University Advisory Council on Teaching), OUCP (the Office of University-Community Partnerships) and ECIT (the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching), to name just three.
McCauley said his goals for the CTC are to build on these burgeoning relationships and continue the center’s already successful programs, as well as expand some of them to reach departments that, for whatever reason, have not quite fully utilized the center’s resources.

The first step in this direction is CTC’s offering of grants up to $1,500 to individual departments to help cover costs associated with colloquiums or programs that involve the discussion of college-level teaching.

The response has been strong, McCauley said. The English department has already received a grant, and he is currently reviewing applications from two other departments.

“I thought about coming up with a clever name [for this initiative], but I’m not very good at that sort of thing,” McCauley laughed. “So I ended up just calling them ‘teaching-dash-research’ grants.”
This effort has an interesting set up. Instead of providing funds from one source, grant money is separated into three categories: humanities, social sciences and natural sciences/ math. This type organization, McCauley said, would help spread money throughout the College. For instance, departments such as biology or chemistry would not be cut off from funding at the expense of the Spanish or history departments. Everyone would have an opportunity to have a fair share.

The broad mission of CTC, McCauley said, is to provide support for good teaching and offer opportunities for faculty to improve their teaching. Monetary grants are just one form this support takes—another is teacher recognition.

That is accomplished through the Center’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, the most recent of which were handed out Sept. 24. Annually rewarding instructors for quality teaching was actually one of the CTC’s first efforts following its creation five years ago.

“There is nothing wrong with patting people on the back,” McCauley said. “It’s a great thing.”
The recipients of this year’s honors were religion’s Bobbi Patterson, psychology’s Eugene Winograd and Ray Lamb from math and computer sciences.

The awards honor excellence in the teaching of undergraduate students. Winners are chosen by a committee whose members represent the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities, and its members take into account information such as peer and student evaluation.

“We take reflection seriously,” McCauley said, summing up his thoughts on the CTC’s mission. “Opportunities to reflect on any number of pedagogical issues will lead to people teaching in a way that is more thoughtful than it would have been otherwise. The very nature of a university is dedicated to the notion that doing things more thoughtfully is a just a pretty good formula for doing them better.”


Back to Emory Report October 8, 2001