Friday, August 26, 2011

Bill Johnson and Rob Kelly selected to participate in UVa's Academy of Teaching

August 25, 2011 — UVA Today by Anne E. Bromley 

English professor Stephen Arata received one of the first fellowships the University of Virginia's Teaching Resource Center offered in 1992, intended to create an interdisciplinary community focused on teaching.

Landscape architecture professor Elizabeth Meyer, another faculty member who became part of that community, went to the center for mentoring and has continued to be a mentor up to the present.

Now they are among a group of 37 experienced faculty members participating in the University Academy of Teaching, a new program of U.Va.'s Teaching Resource Center that aims to provide an arena for faculty to focus on the "big questions in teaching and learning," center director Marva Barnett said. The program will bring together master teachers who have already helped others reach a higher level of excellence, and who are interested in offering their expertise to colleagues across Grounds.

The inaugural group invited to join the academy includes faculty members who have given back to U.Va. either through Teaching Resource Center programs or within their schools or disciplines, and who are regarded as master teachers. Most have received University-wide teaching awards.

Barnett calls the group "change leaders," saying, "The academy formalizes contributions faculty members have been making in sharing their expertise in different ways."

The Academy of Teaching leverages this corps of master teachers to maintain and enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience through great teaching, providing opportunities for professional development even during financially austere times like these, she said.

U.Va.'s enrollment is growing at a time when the number of faculty has decreased, providing another reason to enhance the emphasis on teaching, associate director Judith Reagan said.

Hiring should soon pick up, according to a recent blog post by College of Arts & Sciences Dean Meredith Woo. Wayne Cozart, executive director of the Jefferson Trust – which backed the academy with a $49,000 grant – mentioned Woo's online discussion when he spoke at an Academy of Teaching reception Thursday.

Cozart and Milton Adams, interim executive vice president and provost, offered remarks as the academy and its new members were introduced.

The Jefferson Trust is an unrestricted endowment initiative of the Alumni Association that provides funding to University projects "with the intent of enhancing the University's margin of excellence," its website says. The Teaching Resource Center and the provost's office are also supporting the project.

"This is exactly the kind of program the Jefferson Trust wants to foster," Cozart said. For many alumni, the excellence of the faculty is the most important factor in their view of U.Va., he said.