on Teaching (UACT)
The University Advisory Council on Teaching was created in the spring of 1998. UACT, as it has come to be known, consists of representatives from each of the nine schools of the university. It meets monthly to consider issues and aspects of teaching that reach across individual schools, to assist individual schools in the development of their own teaching centers or offices of instructional development, and to promote discussion and reflection on teaching generally across the university. UACT creates satellite committees to give ongoing attention to topics such as teaching and technology, the documentation of teaching excellence, and teaching students with disabilities -- committees that engage larger groups of faculty beyond its own ranks. In the long run, we hope to provide faculty and administrators with a comprehensive view of teaching at Emory, not only teaching in and of itself, but also teaching within the larger equilibrium of ideals and activities of the modern research university that we have become.
Arri Eisen, UTF
Laura Porter Kimble,
Harriet King, ex-officio, Office of the Provost
Wendy Newby, ex-officio, Office of Faculty Resources for Disabilities
Anne Sinkey (Program Coordinator)
Gary Smith (Chair),
Donna Troka (Program Coordinator)
UACT’s History and Proposed Future:
The University Advisory Council on Teaching was created in
the Spring of 1998, following the 1997 “Teaching at
Emory” Report of the Commission on Teaching at
Throughout the seven years of UACT’s development, many recommendations made in the Report of the Commission on Teaching have been met. UACT emerged from the Office of the Provost to engage representatives from across schools and disciplines in conversations about teaching at Emory, cultivating an awareness of the importance of teaching as well as research in the University. UACT’s meetings and events have brought together faculty and students from a variety of backgrounds, fostering an intellectual community of dialogue and exchange. Facilities, such as classrooms and access to technology, have improved and instruction on how to utilize technology in the classroom has been offered through UACT programs. UACT promotes ongoing teacher training through workshops that address issues such as diversity in the classroom, writing across the curriculum, and basics such as instructional design and pedagogical theory. Nationally prominent speakers have been brought to campus to complement the expertise of local faculty. Passages, a program that helps match teachers as mentors for other teachers, has provided an excellent infrastructure for the development of junior faculty, and instruction on building a teaching portfolio and dealing with pressures of advancement and tenure are perennial programming topics. Teaching awards, given every year, recognize and encourage excellent teachers from all parts of the University community.
In the Fall of 2003, UACT, along with the University Teaching Fund (UTF), compiled an evaluation survey to gauge the University community on the effectiveness of UACT and UTF programming, their prominence on campus, and what additional needs should be addressed to meet faculty concerns. While many faculty who have attended UACT events and participated in workshops agree that UACT provides a valuable service to the University, some needs are still not being met. Responses to UACT and UTF queries were consistent: some themes that emerged in faculty suggestions in the survey included the need for one-on-one teaching evaluations, offering teaching retreats, better instruction on teaching with technology, better advertising of UACT events (in particular, the popular Master Teacher Program), more evaluation of and training for mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, more instruction on service-learning, better connections to Oxford campus, more centralization of university teaching resources and staff in charge of providing teaching assistance, and the possibility of a staffed university-wide teaching center to house the programs, resources, staff, and events held for teaching development and assistance.
initial Report of the Commission on Teaching called for the establishment of a
A number of other
Universities, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and
We at UACT believe that the climate is right at Emory for the establishment of a University-wide teaching center. Although UACT has been tremendously successful in providing valuable programming and resources to the Emory community, a centralized institution for teaching development would not only further assert the importance of teaching at Emory, but would greatly improve communication across schools and disciplines, avoid unnecessary duplication of programming, assist in co-sponsorship (financial and otherwise) of programming, speakers, and workshops, and provide a visible, centralized location for faculty to seek help with questions about teaching development. Now is the time to establish such a center by combining the current resources allocated to UACT and the UTF, in addition with endowment monies, to better address what UACT has only begun addressing.