University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents meeting
Day 2 News Summary
MADISON — Outstanding teachers from University of Wisconsin System campuses were lauded Friday
(Sept. 10) by the Board of Regents and Gov. Jim Doyle during the presentation of the 2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Awards.
In introducing the three award winners, Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee said it was important for the board to recognize and reward the university’s valuable faculty and academic staff, who teach UW students with dedication, creativity and passion.
“That acknowledgement does not always find voice outside the halls of academia,” said Davis, who chaired the committee that selected the winners. “The members of the UW community we honor today are shining examples of the ability that excellent teachers have to change students’ lives.”
Student Regent Beth Richlen of Madison introduced the first winner, UW-Stevens Point wildlife professor Eric Anderson, as a teacher who “wants his students to learn and grow.”
“One of the objectives listed on his syllabus is-and this is not so simple-to “kindle the intrinsic desire to know and to understand,” Richlen said. “The evidence that he is successful abounds, as his students attest.”
Anderson surprised the regents with a “pop quiz” of sorts in accepting his award, illustrating his point that today’s students want to be active, engaged learners, and are not satisfied simply with traditional lecture-style courses.
“It’s our job to instill in those students the passion to be their best,” Anderson said.
Regent Chuck Pruitt of Shorewood described award winner Denise Scheberle, UW-Green Bay professor of political science, as “tireless in her quest to bring innovative teaching and creative opportunities for student learning into her classrooms.”
“The impact she has had on students, colleagues, her institution as a whole, and the practice of teaching itself is immense,” Pruitt said. “Through her belief in teaching as both an art and a science, which can and must be shared with students and colleagues alike, Professor Scheberle is transforming teaching and learning for her institution and the UW System.”
Scheberle thanked the regents for the honor, saying that the award was a highlight of her professional career.
“You’ve honored me in a way I’ll never forget,” she said. “And thank you to my students, who teach me something every day.”
Scheberle said she strives to be creative in offering her students a personal, challenging education.
“I must lead by example, both inside and outside class,” she said.
This year’s departmental award went to the UW-La Crosse Physics Department, which made a remarkable turnaround after being slated for elimination due to poor performance just a few years ago, according to award presenter Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee.
Salas said today, the department is the largest undergraduate Physics program in Wisconsin and has increased from 1 graduate in 1990, to 24 graduates in 2003.
“This program is exemplary and it is nationally recognized as such,” Salas said. Physics departments throughout the country are following the Department’s lead and model in attempts to revitalize their programs.”
Department chair Professor Gubbi Sudhakaran accepted the award on the department’s behalf, saying that the revitalization is ongoing, and the faculty continue to look for ways to strengthen undergraduate research opportunities, promote teacher education, and maximize unique research facilities.
“Our program is an example of what can be achieved when you have faculty who are willing to go the extra mile,” he said.
Gov. Jim Doyle, who attended the awards ceremony, congratulated the winners, saying that they make this university “such a great place to be.”
Davis added that the stories the board heard about are not unrelated to the 2005-07 budget request the board approved last month.
“We expressed our commitment to a request for additional faculty resources,” Davis said. “Today’s ceremony should allow us to feel renewed in our commitment and secure in the knowledge that we are moving in the right direction with such a request.”
Governor praises selection of Reilly as president
Gov. Jim Doyle briefly addressed the Board of Regents on Friday, thanking them for their “very wise” selection of former UW-Extension chancellor Kevin Reilly as the new UW System President.
“I’ve known Kevin, and I know that he will do the job very well,” Doyle said.
Doyle said Reilly was well-prepared for the position due to his experience leading the statewide UW-Extension.
“With due regard to all the campuses, Extension perhaps exemplifies the Wisconsin Idea more than any other,” Doyle said, noting its strong service mission to state citizens, including farmers and small business owners.
He also praised all the UW System chancellors, who have worked as a strong team to manage their institutions during the state’s challenging budget time, and thanked the board for its recommendations following its study of the university’s future, titled “Charting a New Course for the UW System.”
“This is a great institution, and a great part of who we are,” Doyle said. “In many ways, the University of Wisconsin is what defines us.”
Doyle added that while a biennium of budget cuts and recent job growth have helped the state’s budget outlook get “back on track, we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Doyle said the state will continue to invest in the university, understanding the connection between job creation and a strong UW System, and asked the regents to continue working on a unified commitment to education.
Reilly celebrates good news across UW System
Putting a face on the incredible accomplishments that happen daily on UW campuses, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly shared several items of “good news” with the board on Friday.
“Much of the power of our great university resides, I believe, in the extraordinary stories that our students, faculty, researchers, staff and administrators have to tell,” he said.
To start, Reilly congratulated and introduced UW-Madison associate professor Jeff Johnson, who with his student, Thor Stein, recently made a major research advance in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
“Wisconsin is truly fortunate to have Jeff Johnson as a member of our faculty,” Reilly said.
Stein said his team wanted to “take research from the bench, and apply it to the bedside,” and that they are working to apply their discovery in mice to the progression of the disease in humans.
Johnson added that to date, their research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, with no state dollars.
“We would like to keep the majority of this technology in Wisconsin,” Johnson said, adding that state investments could help ensure that outcome.
Reilly also congratulated several UW campuses for earning high rankings in this year’s edition of “America’s Best Colleges” issued by U.S. News and World Report.
Reilly noted that although five UW campuses were among the top-10 best Midwestern level master’s universities, and UW-Madison again ranked high among doctoral universities.
“Let me suggest that we congratulate all our campuses for another strong showing. At the same time, keep these rankings in your back pockets,” Reilly said. “We know students and parents pay attention to guides like these, and this year’s rankings support our case for reinvestment by the state in our university system.”
Reilly and Regent Brent Smith of La Crosse shared the story of UW-La Crosse track-and-field athlete Andrew Rock, a senior who earned an Olympic gold medal as part of the men’s 4-x-400 relay at the Summer Games in Athens. Reilly also congratulated UW-Madison swimmer Carly Piper, who won a gold medal as part of the U.S. women’s 800-meter freestyle relay team.
In addition, Reilly congratulated UW-Green Bay professor of Humanistic Studies Denise Sweet on her recent appointment as the state’s new Poet Laureate.
Regents hear report on teaching and learning
As a complement to the day’s teaching excellence awards, three UW academic leaders addressed the board on their approaches to teaching and learning in the UW System.
UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Linda Bunnell told the board that institutions like UWSP are responding to student demand for experiences, in and out of the classroom, that allow “active learning.” She said that as chancellor, her role is to support faculty and teaching staff who want to experiment with these newer teaching methods.
“We must give faculty the freedom to innovate and the ability to fail safely, in case they do,” Bunnell said.
UW-La Crosse Provost Elizabeth Hitch said she works to support professional development for faculty and instructional staff, and to recognize the importance of teaching and learning as often and as prominently as possible.
Hitch suggested that the Board could assist faculty and staff in their teaching efforts by providing resources at the campus level and by focusing on teaching and learning as the core of the university.
“Whenever a new idea or direction for the System comes up, it needs to be weighed again this criterion: Will this action improve teaching and learning for students on our campuses?” Hitch said.
Lisa Kornetsky, director of the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development, told the board that the university’s approach to supporting quality teaching and learning evolves as student needs change.
“Student success is our priority ― faculty success in the classroom should be as well,” Kornetsky said. “The two go hand in hand.”
Regents approve several action items
The Board of Regents approved several action items from committees in Friday’s full board session. The board:
- Accepted the Annual Report on 2003 Undergraduate Drop Rates for submission to the Joint Committee on Finance; and requested that the Joint Finance Committee discontinue the course credit drop reporting requirement
- Accepted the 2004 Research and Public Service Report;
- Authorized the Ph.D. in Medical Informatics at UW-Milwaukee;
- Approved UW-Extension’s revised mission statement;
- Approved the name change of the UW-Green Bay Division of Professional Studies and Outreach to the Division of Professional and Graduate Studies;
- Approved the organizational changes at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which include: 1) the elimination of the College of Professional Studies; 2) the elimination of the School of Human Sciences and Services; 3) the renaming of the School of Education to the College of Education and Human Sciences; and 4) the renaming of the School of Nursing to the College of Nursing and Health Sciences;
- Approved amendments to the UW-Green Bay Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures;
- Approved amendments to the UW-Madison Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures;
- Approved the amendments to the UW-Stevens Point Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures;
- Authorized the recruitment of a new UW-Extension Chancellor;
- Approved Reappointments and Appointment to the Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future (Blue Cross & Blue Shield Program) Oversight and Advisory Committee;
- Approved a UW-Madison Contract For Campus Vending Services;
- Approved the Auxiliary Reserves Report;
- Approved the Report on Base Salary Adjustments to Recognize Competitive Factors;
- Accepted several bequests of more than $50,000;
- Approved a design report and granted authority to construct a Chilled Water Plant at UW-La Crosse;
- Authorized leasing space on behalf of the Graduate School and the Antarctic, Astronomy, and Astrophysics Research Institute at UW-Madison;
- Increased the budget for the Mechanical Engineering Renovation and Addition project at UW-Madison;
- Approved a design report and granted authority to construct a second floor Genomics Laboratory remodeling at the Great Lakes Research Facility at UW-Milwaukee
- Approved a design report and grant authority to construct a Chilled Water Plant at UW-Whitewater; and
- Granted authority to construct the American Family Children’s Hospital, and thanked American Family Insurance for their generous donation.
The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting October 7-8, 2004 on the UW-Superior campus.
Regents Davis, Pruitt, Richlen and Salas
I am very pleased to be a part of today’s presentation of the Regents Teaching Excellence Awards for 2004, and would like to welcome this year’s award recipients, their friends, families, and supporters. These awards represent an opportunity for the Board to recognize and honor some of the UW System’s most outstanding teachers, departments and programs. I think all of us in this room understand what a valuable resource we have in our faculty and academic staff, who teach day in and day out with dedication, creativity and passion; and to whom we entrust the education and enlightenment of the citizens of the future. But that acknowledgement does not always find voice outside the halls of academia. As Regents, we can and must work to publicly honor and help make understood the intense labor and dedication that go into the act of teaching. The awards we make today represent a small, but, I hope, significant, step in the right direction.
Without deflecting any attention away from the people we honor today, I also want to remind us of the larger context in which we conduct this ceremony. We cannot afford to divorce the extraordinary teaching and learning we will hear about today from the budget request we are submitting to the Governor this fall. We debated long and hard last month about what the nature of that request should be. We expressed our commitment to a request for additional faculty resources. Today’s ceremony should allow us to feel renewed in our commitment and secure in the knowledge that we are moving in the right direction with such a request.
Regents Pruitt, Richlen and Salas joined me as part of this year’s selection team, and I thank them for their thoughtful participation. As always, the pool of nominees was truly exceptional. Selecting the winners was extremely challenging, but also rewarding. The members of the UW community we honor today are shining examples of the ability that excellent teachers have to change students’ lives. While they all go about this task in unique ways, they share several striking characteristics: a distinct philosophy of teaching and learning; a willingness to adapt and innovate in order to meet the needs of students; a passion for their discipline; and a commitment to constant self-examination and improvement.
This year’s ceremony will be conducted as follows: each of the other Regent members on the selection committee will briefly introduce one of the winners and hand over to them their award and the podium for the opportunity to address the Board. Following last year’s practice, we have circulated profiles of each of our award winners: they have been placed in the Regent’s folders, and have been distributed to Chancellors, Provosts and others whom we are pleased to welcome here today. We encourage you to read them for the brief remarks we make today do not do justice to the wealth of talent, dedication, and passion of the teachers joining us at the podium today.
Regent Richlen will present the first award.
I am pleased to introduce our first 2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Award winner: Dr. Eric Anderson, Professor of Wildlife in the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. I will read the prepared remarks, but I do want to begin by saying that when the Selection Committee got together to choose from among an extraordinary group of nominees for this award, I was concerned about the objectivity I would bring to discussing Professor Anderson. This was because I know him from my time as a student at Point. Having known him and been the beneficiary of his teaching, I knew that everything in his dossier was true and then some! I declared at the outset to my fellow committee members that I had been Professor Anderson’s student. But I didn’t have to worry about either unduly influencing my fellow Regents, or remaining silent in the effort to be impartial. Impartiality, it turns out, is not a position anybody would claim in describing Professor Anderson. The Selection Committee was unanimous in their support for Dr. Anderson.
In fact, it’s difficult to know where to begin in describing his teaching and the profound impact he has on his students and colleagues at UW-Stevens Point. To read his syllabus is to gain a sense of the conceptual framework with which he approaches the teaching of his discipline, as well as the rigorous critical thinking he demands from his students. He imparts to his students not just disciplinary knowledge but also a philosophy of wildlife ecology, biological conservation, and the stewardship responsibilities of natural resources management. He also, very simply, wants his students to learn and grow. One of the objectives listed on his syllabus is—and this is not so simple—to “kindle the intrinsic desire to know and to understand.”
The evidence that he is successful abounds, as his students attest. One student wrote, “Dr. Anderson’s teaching style can be summed up with one word, ‘enthusiastic.’ Teaching with such emotion, encouragement, and energy should flat out exhaust him, but it doesn’t. He repeats these ‘high energy’ lectures day after day. He has a way of captivating his audience, and students feed off of his excitement and his obvious love of teaching and wildlife.” And each of the colleagues who wrote in support of him begin their accolades with something to the effect of, “In all my 27 or 33 or whatever number of years teaching, I have never met a more inspiring teacher than Eric Anderson.”
He creates and facilitates a plethora of learning opportunities for students. For example, he uses technology to create digital images which bring field examples into the classroom and laboratory; to integrate Geographic Information Systems into the wildlife curriculum; and to develop with students a series of interactive CD Roms using audio, video and quizzing components to help students identify plants, mammals and amphibians. He takes students on an annual trip to the Badlands of South Dakota each fall to learn fieldwork (is there anyone you’d rather go to the Badlands with to learn about wildlife ecology?), and he has led students on study abroad tours to Costa Rica, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, the latter trip a semester-long program that Dr. Anderson developed, organized, and led for 30 students by himself in 2003.
Six principles guide his teaching and extend beyond his discipline. They are: Respect students as individuals; Focus on learning, not teaching; Be passionate about my subject and about teaching; Be humble in the presence of my academic discipline and students; Give students the responsibility, tools, and desire to learn; and Be genuine. From all accounts and by every evaluative measure, he is successful at integrating each one of these principles into his teaching.
Professor Anderson …
“The accolades of the academic world are too often reserved for those who have amassed the longest list of publications, a feature that sometimes overlooks those who are truly outstanding at doing what the job is really all about-teaching. “I like these words a lot, although they aren’t mine. They were written by one of Professor Denise Scheberle’s students in support of her nomination for the Regents Teaching Excellence Awards. Dr. Scheberle, Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, is the second recipient we honor today. Reading through her dossier one gets a marvelous sense of her teaching personality: she is forceful in articulating what she wants her students to accomplish but gentle in leading them there. She is humble, even self-effacing. But she is also tireless in her quest to bring innovative teaching and creative opportunities for student learning into her classrooms. “Teaching,” she writes, “represents the essence of who I am professionally and personally.” The impact she has had on students, colleagues, her institution as a whole, and the practice of teaching itself is immense.
Indeed, Professor Scheberle has taken active learning taken to a whole new dimension. The research tells us that students are most engaged in their educations when they are not passive receptacles of teaching content, but when they are co-producers of knowledge and meaning. Professor Scheberle has developed a series of active learning exercises, closely allied to the objectives of each of her courses, which are truly exciting. For example, she has developed eight on-line simulations. These are interactive timeline, political participation and visual literacy learning packages available to students in her American Government classes, as well as to others through the website Participate.com. With funding from the Wisconsin Campus Compact, she guided her students into developing UW-Green Bay’s first annual democracy dialogues named the Phoenix Forums: Issues in Citizenship, the goal of which is to stimulate student thinking and dialogue about important political issues of the day and what civic life means. In the end, it is her students who develop and thus take ownership of these activities. Active learning in Professor Scheberle’s class gets at the core of the learning objectives she sets for her students: civic engagement and an understanding of what it means to participate in a democracy. It’s difficult to imagine more important goals than these.
There is another side to Professor Scheberle’s work that really sets her apart, and that is her work in faculty development. She has an abiding commitment to making good teaching public and sharing with others the strategies, successes and challenges that she has had in the classroom. She seems to believe that if you don’t share it, it doesn’t count! This is true for her students, and it is true for her participation throughout the years in a variety of systemwide faculty development programs. Her generosity and dedication have led her to organize an annual teaching and learning conference held each January and open to other teachers and administrators beyond UW-Green Bay. With another faculty member at Green Bay, she created the UW-Green Bay Teaching Scholars Program, designed to help pre-tenure faculty teach better but also to become part of a community of teacher-scholars at the outset of their careers. The Teaching Scholars Program was started with funding from the UW System’s Office of Professional and Instructional Development, and modeled after one of their programs. It was so successful that Green Bay committed internal resources to its continuation. Through her belief in teaching as both an art and a science, which can and must be shared with students and colleagues alike, Professor Scheberle is transforming teaching and learning for her institution and the UW System.
Professor Scheberle …
Finally, it is my distinct honor to bestow the 2004 Regents Teaching Excellence Award for a Department or Program to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Department of Physics, represented here today by three faculty members in the program: Professor Gubbi Sudhakaran, the Department’s Chair, and Professors Mike Jackson and Robert Ragan.
Twelve years ago, this award would have been unimaginable. In the late 1980s, the UW-La Crosse Physics Department had a total of 5 majors, 5 faculty members, and a graduation rate of one major per year. The Department had received poor reviews from the University’s Academic Program Review Committee, and UW System Administration had recommended phasing out the Physics Department because of its low graduation rates. Faced with the choice of either recommending the Department’s demise or its revitalization, UW-La Crosse decided to give Physics a second chance. The University decided to hire a new chair and an experienced faculty member in an attempt to turn the program around.
Obviously these faculty members would not be standing before us today if the attempt had not been successful. And what a transformation this department has undergone! Indeed, one of its former students called the department’s second chance at life a “resurrection,” one he attributes to the quality of the department and its members. Led by a dynamic new chair, the Department embarked upon a complete overhaul of the curriculum, a reconfiguring of its faculty members as effective teachers, mentors, and scholars, and a re-commitment to providing an array of learning opportunities that were entirely student-centered.
The catalogue of changes instituted by the Department to complete its renewal is impressive. Specifically, the Department implemented Dual Degree Programs with four Engineering programs at four different universities, providing students who complete the program with both a B.S. in Physics from UW-La Crosse and a B.S. in engineering from the partner institution; promoted and supported an abundance of research opportunities for undergraduates, with both internal and external funding; built a scholarly community through weekly seminars for faculty and students; revitalized the Department’s contributions to UW-La Crosse’s Teacher Education program in the sciences and ensuring the rigor of the teachers it produces; engaged in aggressive recruitment of new students and new majors and followed this up with strenuous advising and retention efforts; renewed their assessment of student learning based on student feedback; improved outreach activities to create for themselves a vital role in the community outside the university; developed a faculty mentoring program; and, finally, implemented a Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics.
This latter program provides an unbelievable example of what the Physics Department offers not only to its students but also to the entire La Crosse community. The Department hosts an annual Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics that brings a Nobel Laureate to campus for 2 days each fall. The Nobel Laureate visits with physics classes, meets local community and industry leaders at a major banquet, meets with faculty individually, gives a physics seminar, a public lecture, and engages in other less formal interactions with students. That Nobel Laureates accept the invitation to visit UW-La Crosse is a testament to the Department’s success, energy, and renown.
Students who major in Physics feel like they are part of a scientific community. Letter after letter written by current and former students in support of the Department detailed the multiple learning and research opportunities afforded by this stellar faculty. Whether a student chooses to go into science teaching at the high school level, or to pursue graduate studies in optics, he or she is extremely well-prepared.
To call this Department’s transformation a success story, then, is an understatement! Today, the UW-La Crosse Physics Department is the largest undergraduate Physics program in Wisconsin. From 5 majors in 1990, to 115 in 2003-04; from 1 graduate per year, to 24 graduates in 2003. This program is exemplary and it is nationally recognized as such. The National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics selected the Department as one of the most successful undergraduate programs in the nation, and physics departments throughout the country are following the Department’s lead and model in attempts to revitalize their programs. Finally, the Department was featured on the cover of the September, 2003, issue of Physics Today, and in an article entitled “Why Many Undergraduate Physics Programs Are Good But Few Are Great.”
There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this Department is truly great, and thus it is my distinct pleasure to present this award to the UW-La Crosse Department of Physics. Professor Sudhakaran and colleagues …
Panel Presentation for the Board of Regents
Remarks by Lisa Kornetsky, Director
Office of Professional and Instructional Development
I am here to talk to you today about how System Administration plays a critical role in advancing teaching and learning across the UW System. The understanding of teaching as a practice and how differing approaches to it affect students’ success and contribute to the attraction and retention of diverse student bodies has grown by leaps and bounds. System administration is committed to providing professional development opportunities, across the UW System, to faculty and instructional academic staff that is grounded in the most successful teaching and learning practices. OPID, the Office of Professional and Instructional Development, is the integral unit of the Office of Academic Affairs that is charged with this work. Our goals for professional development are twofold: to understand and enhance student learning and increase student success; and to enhance and support the role of the faculty member as a teacher, scholar, and member of the higher education community. By supporting faculty in their growth as teachers, by giving them the opportunity to discover how pedagogical practices impact student learning, and by creating communities of practice across disciplines and institutions, we help to contribute to the retention of good faculty, student success, and the promotion of academic quality across the University of Wisconsin System.
OPID brings people together through multi-institutional opportunities; sharing resources and best practices across campuses and disciplines; bringing national discussions on teaching and learning issues to Wisconsin, and from Wisconsin to the Nation. We provide leadership by seeking innovative solutions to problems, bringing national issues to our constituents, and linking our activities to the larger priorities and strategic directions of System and campuses. We provide service by bringing faculty together for workshops, discussions, seminars, and conferences.
The last 10-15 years have seen remarkable growth in terms of our understanding of how students learn. We know so much more about learning styles, about the impact of classroom design, and about the relationship of classroom and campus climate to learning, among other things. There has been a paradigm shift from teaching to learning; from providing instruction and transmitting information, to focusing on student learning and understanding. The assessment movement, the impact that technology has on teaching and learning, the growth of service and community-based learning, changing student and faculty demographics, and an emphasis on pedagogical strategies such as active learning, and group work have all contributed to changing the ways that programs design their curriculum and that faculty approach their teaching. Our role is to help faculty explore the implications of this knowledge and these changing trends to classroom practice.
Let me give you a few examples of how some of our programs are working to do this. I think it will help you to see the interconnectedness of the work of individuals, campuses, and System Administration.
Faculty College is an intensive 4-day workshop held each June. Having just completed the academic year, Faculty from throughout the System have an opportunity to meet and discuss specific teaching questions and issues. This year’s conference included seminars on: strategies for using technology effectively to improve student learning; and “what every college teacher should know about teaching and learning.” At the end of the four days, faculty leave with new knowledge, practical strategies, and new networks of colleagues from across the State. They take what they have learned and bring it back to their classrooms, departments, and campuses.
Two of OPID’s highly successful programs are our Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Wisconsin Teaching Scholars programs. These are year-long programs designed for outstanding teachers from across the UW System and from a range of disciplines. The Fellows program, designed for early career faculty, and the Scholars program, designed for mid-career faculty, provide the opportunity for instructors to work on year long teaching/learning improvement projects, and to share their teaching questions, findings and subsequent changes they make in their classroom practice.
This year a number of our 13 Teaching Scholars are focusing on issues related to teaching diversity courses. They want to know how and what students actually learn in these courses. One scholar, from UW-LaCrosse, is investigating whether required courses actually reduce prejudices and whether innovative pedagogy can improve the learning experience of all the students in a course. By developing and implementing a particular teaching strategy – in this case simulations of real life experiences – and then studying students learning outcomes, she will be able to begin to answer that question. Another faculty member, from UW-Parkside, is exploring the understandings that first year students bring with them about race and culture. He seeks to know specifically what happens to students’ understanding of these issues as they practice observing and analyzing racial interactions from multiple perspectives in a communication course.
Throughout the year these faculty will share their findings with the other Teaching Scholars and disseminate their work on their campus and across the System. The two projects I mentioned will also be presented at the “UW System Plan 2008: Best Practices in Closing the Achievement Gap” conference in October. In this way, other faculty can benefit from this work and begin to apply some of the ideas in their own practice. At the same time, staff and administrators developing policies and programs around diversity issues may be influenced in their decision-making by information on what actually does or doesn’t work.
Let me give you another example, and here I’ll use Denise Scheberle, our award winner from UW-Green Bay. I know Denise well. She has been a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow and Wisconsin Teaching Scholar where she was, as you might imagine, a star in both programs. Along with another former fellow on her campus, Denise received a grant from OPID to begin a teaching fellows program at Green Bay. OPID supported that program, through grant funds, for two years at which point campus administrators, convinced of its effectiveness, found money to sustain the program. This last year Denise wrote a grant for a mid-career scholars program focusing on systematic inquiry into student learning. We have funded this program as well. (It is important to point out, I think, that these programs have been funded with fairly small dollar amounts.) What has happened, through Denise’s leadership has been phenomenal – and we see echoes of this across the System. Using a System program as a model, Denise developed a campus specific program to meet the needs of her institution. Indeed there has been wonderful cross-fertilization between these programs. In addition, Denise has provided advice and feedback to other System institutions that have developed their own programs for faculty. She has presented at OPID conferences on both her scholarly work in teaching and her faculty development activities. At a recent national conference, Denise was part of a group of us who presented a panel on faculty development in the UW system. To me, this is a wonderful example of how OPID- a system-level organization, can partner with talented faculty and campus faculty-development initiatives and activities, to build leadership and to build practitioner knowledge about teaching and learning across the system, and beyond. It is the work of faculty like Denise and her talented colleagues who are developing that knowledge and expertise. OPID’s role is to provide opportunities for and to leverage that work and help it to impact the work of others.
There is one more point I’d like to make about the System role in advancing teaching and learning. The programs are structured to develop leadership. Across the UW System, many of the leaders in teaching enhancement are former Teaching Fellows and Scholars. Individuals, like Denise Scheberle; Bill Cerbin from UW-La Crosse a two-time national Carnegie Scholar; Provost Dick Telfer, from UW-Whitewater, along with many department chairs, deans, faculty development directors, and associate provosts from across the System have participated in these programs As a former faculty member at UW-Parkside, I was a Teaching Fellow in 1987. It was the single most transformative experience of my career to date. It not only changed the way that I taught, but changed the way that I thought – about my role in the classroom, my students, my disciplinary content, and my pedagogical methods. Through various assessments we have done of our programs, I know that I am not alone in that experience.
From my perspective, the challenges and the strengths of our programs are inseparable. In other words, what makes it difficult to do this work across institutions is at the heart of the successes we have. Meeting the needs of different campuses with different missions and cultures around teaching is a challenge.
The UW System is considered a national model for system wide faculty development. We hear this over and over again. At national conferences, and particularly through our work with AAHE and the Carnegie Foundation, we have frequently been told that others look to our example of how to “do this work” at a system level. While the very nature of professional development in tough budget times, at a System and a campus level is a challenge, we have made great strides and we take great pride in our accomplishments, our reputation, and the work of so many people across the state that contribute to what we can achieve through our professional development initiatives.
What Might the Regents do?
I am very excited by the changes that are occurring in our knowledge base in this area. It is important to understand that we are not talking here about fixing something that is broken. This is an evolutionary process. We are doing things differently because we know so much more about how students learn. We are providing opportunities for faculty to take advantage of that research and to engage in it themselves where they can. The most important thing that you as Regents can do, is to keep teaching and learning front and center your work. Look at the impact of policy on faculty ability to do their job and to keep student learning at the top of their agenda. Student success is our priority – faculty success in the classroom should be as well – the two go hand in hand.
I ask you to support the need for professional development as a positive way to retain good faculty, and to increase quality and student success. Finally, let us show you examples, like those you have had from our award winners today, of what faculty do. I I would love nothing more then to bring those examples to the Board for you to see the ways in which so many of our faculty are exploring these issues in their classrooms and contributing to what we know about student learning for understanding. I invite you to spend time with us at Faculty College or another of our events, to participate in the rich discussions that faculty have around these issues.
Publicly rewarding and acknowledging teaching is so important. I applaud you for this and I know that it means a tremendous amount – not only to our award winners but to their colleagues across the UW System. Thank you.