March 22, 2004

Emory-Oxford faculty exchange off to good start

By Michael Terrazas

Currently finishing its second year, the Emory-Oxford Faculty Exchange Program is giving professors on both the Atlanta and Oxford campuses the opportunity to broaden their teaching horizons and familiarize themselves with the University's two main undergraduate components.

Coordinated by the Center for Teaching and Curriculum (CTC), the program exchanges one faculty member from each campus each academic year. During 2002-03, Oxford psychology Professor Patti Owen-Smith taught an Emory College course through the violence studies program, and religion Professor Rich Martin taught a course at Oxford. This year, journalism program Director Sheila Tefft visited Oxford in the fall (see First Person, page 2), and Lucas Carpenter, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English at Oxford, is visiting the Atlanta campus this semester to teach an introductory to creative writing course.

"One obvious benefit is that the students at Oxford get an opportunity to make contact with a faculty member whom they will be able to see when they come to Atlanta," said CTC Director Robert McCauley, professor of philosophy. "On the other side, the Emory students benefit because the Oxford faculty are renowned for their dedication to and excellence in teaching."

Participating faculty gain from the experience, as well. For example, since Oxford is a two-year school, Oxford faculty have an opportunity to lead upper-level courses they might not otherwise get to teach on their home campus, McCauley said.

"I think it's extremely helpful in terms of letting folks in Atlanta have their own Oxford experience and learn first hand what we're all about," said Carpenter, who has taught on the Atlanta campus before. "For us, it lets us develop connections with our relevant departments in Atlanta. It's just a nice change of pace."

The idea for the exchange was born in spring 2001, McCauley said, when English Professor (and former CTC director) Walt Reed sent out a faculty e-mail to gauge interest in such a program. More than 30 professors responded. But when McCauley took over the CTC that fall, even though interest was high, actually putting the idea in motion was another story.

"It was just complicated," McCauley said. "Oxford has a fairly small faculty, so in any given discipline the faculty resources are good deal more limited; giving up a faculty member for even a single course has more profound implications for their course planning and curriculum than it does here."

Another logistics headache is, since the exchanging faculty members have not yet come from corresponding departments, schedules must be worked out among four departments between the two campuses--and sometimes more. During 2004-05, Oxford English Assistant Professor Adriane Ivey will teach a course on the Atlanta campus that will be cross-listed with African American studies. Since Emory's participant will be biology Professor Darrell Stokes, schedules had to be coordinated among five departments: English and biology on both campuses and African American studies at Emory.

Still, each year there has been exactly one faculty member from each campus for whom all the pieces fell into place. Emory College Dean Bobby Paul and Oxford Dean Dana Greene volunteered $1,000 each to augment teaching expenses for participating faculty, and the young program, though modest, is running smoothly. McCauley said he anticipates the program will continue "in perpetuity."

"Our hope," Greene said, "is that the program will forge a stronger link between two of the undergraduate schools of the University, strengthening curricula and enlivening teaching and learning for both students and faculty." Faculty interested in participating may contact CTC at 404-727-6410.