St. Lawrence’s Center for Teaching and Learning provides
a place where faculty can help each other get better at their craft.
Lisa M. Cania M’82
Go ahead. We dare you. Ask any graduate
from any year and you’re
likely to hear that one of the most important reasons he or she loved
St. Lawrence was the special, excellent faculty.
Good teaching goes
way back at St. Lawrence, of course, as other stories in this issue
of St. Lawrence attest. In fact, the traditional atmosphere—passionate
concern for the best methods and an appetite for getting better and
better—encouraged University leaders to believe that St. Lawrence
was exactly the right place for a program that would encourage excellence
in teaching and support greater faculty professional development.
St. Lawrence’s faculty culture, unlike that of many institutions,
encourages us as teachers to learn from each other. It’s not
unusual for new colleagues and tenured faculty to ask each other questions
about best practices, frustrating challenges, new methods and tools,” says
Associate Dean of the Faculty Kim Mooney. “Some faculty cultures
might perceive this as risky.”
Not here. Mooney, then-Dean of
Academic Affairs Thomas B. Coburn and other faculty leaders wanted
to capitalize on this collaborative atmosphere.
In spring 2001, they applied to the Mellon Foundation for a grant
to fund a concept and a facility that would bring together the varied
programming options associated with improving pedagogy.
response from the Mellon Foundation allowed the University to expand
existing faculty development opportunities and launch new
ones, to purchase computer technology for a training center and to
fund part-time clerical support, among other expenses. The Center for
Teaching and Learning (CTL) was born. When Mooney leaves her position
as associate dean for faculty affairs in June, she’ll retain
coordination of the CTL as she prepares to return to the psychology
department as associate professor.
The CTL aims to further creativity,
risk-taking, collaboration and professional renewal among faculty members
at all stages in their teaching
careers, Mooney wrote in the grant proposal. Specifically, the goals
of the CTL are to “expose faculty to current knowledge and practice
regarding teaching and learning; provide a forum for formal and informal
exchanges of ideas and expertise; and stimulate, support, and reinforce
pedagogies that optimize student learning.”
Mooney (left) brought to
the proposal experience in the administrative position traditionally
asked to coordinate faculty development programs. She
saw the possibilities for consolidation, coordination and expansion
of “myriad services in instructional support.” The creation
of the CTL, led by a collaborative advisory board of faculty, allows
St. Lawrence to provide a highly visible and stable home for current
faculty development initiatives and the mechanism for the fruitful
development of new ones.