Teaching Excellence at Core of New Center
Feb. 2, 2016
A new initiative at UT Dallas is focused on championing teaching excellence across all areas of the University.
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) officially launched last month and is led by Dr. Paul F. Diehl, who joined the UT Dallas faculty last fall and is also the Ashbel Smith Professor of Political Science in the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences.
Diehl came to UT Dallas from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was a distinguished scholar and award-winning teacher, as well as founding director of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Academy. UT Dallas acting provost Dr. Inga Musselman said Diehl’s background and experience were a natural fit to lead the new effort at the University.
“We’ve been talking over many years about starting a center for teaching and learning at UT Dallas,” Musselman said to a gathering of about 50 faculty members and instructors at a Jan. 12 campus reception announcing the new center. “The vision was for a center steeped in educational philosophy and pedagogy that also incorporates technology and practical instruction.”
“This center promotes reflection as well as implementation of best practices for all instructors, from tenure-track faculty to instructional staff to graduate students.”
Since joining the University, Diehl has been meeting with and seeking input from faculty members, instructors and other stakeholders to determine priorities for the CTL.
“Paul’s inclusive style has resulted in a center that will enjoy broad institutional support, and it’s very exciting to me that this idea has finally come to fruition,” Musselman said.
The center staff also includes associate director Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester, senior lecturer in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and chair of the University’s Committee on Effective Teaching. Huxtable-Jester is a past recipient of the UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.
Diehl said the mission of the Center for Teaching and Learning is to champion excellence in teaching, and to channel faculty enthusiasm and expertise that is so pervasive across campus.
“This center promotes reflection as well as implementation of best practices for all instructors, from tenure-track faculty to instructional staff to graduate students,” he said.
In the near term, the center will focus on programs for instructors with the least teaching experience, including new junior faculty, lecturers and graduate teaching assistants. Among the first initiatives are graduate and advanced graduate teaching certificate programs, as well as instructional improvement grants and a seminar on teaching for junior faculty members. In addition, several guest speakers and teaching workshops have been lined up for this semester.
Diehl said that in the long run, the center also will provide opportunities for established educators.
“Even the best of the best — those instructors who have been recognized by the University and the UT System as outstanding teachers — will have opportunities to talk about teaching, to learn, and become even better,” he said. “That’s one of the center’s aspirations, to strive for teaching improvement for all instructors.”