About the Newsletter Title…
The title of the CTE newsletter comes from an article by Charles L. Brewer, Bending Twigs, Affecting Eternity, published in the Platte Valley Review Special Edition on College Teaching in Spring, 1996. In his article, Dr. Brewer discusses some of the characteristics of outstanding teachers and the role of the teacher in our society.
Based on his observations of teachers practicing their craft, Charles determined that one of the most important traits of a good teacher is passion. Good teachers have a passion for learning, for asking and trying to answer interesting questions, for enthusiasm, for parsimony, for preparation, for excellence, and for patience.
In reflecting on the role of the teacher, Dr. Brewer quotes Alexander Pope’s aphorism, “As the twig is bent the tree’s inclined,” and Henry Brooks Adam’s saying, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Both quotes reflect the real reason for teaching, which is to make a difference and to make the world a better place by stretching minds and hearts. Dr. Brewer concludes his article by maintaining that, “Teaching is not a profession; teaching is a calling—delightful, invigorating, mysterious, passionate, precious, and sacred.”
The Center for Teaching Excellence at UNK provides assistance to all teachers who aspire to be excellent in their profession and who value their calling. The purpose of the Center is based on the belief that “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” –Henry Ford
Full text available at: Bending Twigs, Affecting Eternity
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CTE Kick-off Event for Fall, 2004
Distinguished Lecturer Series with Dr. Finnie Murray
Remarks to the Center for Teaching Excellence: Thoughts on Undergraduate Education
The kick-off event for the Fall semester was the first in a monthly series of Distinguished Lectures. Dr. Finnie Murray, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Student Life, spoke at the CTE Luncheon on September 23, 2004. Dr. Murray’s presentation focused on his vision for undergraduate education at UNK.
The Vice Chancellor discussed his view that undergraduate education is based on three primary pillars: General education, disciplinary education of the major(s), and education for capacity for life-long learning. In assuring that we give our students the best possible undergraduate education, Dr. Murray believes that we must start with our mission. He maintains that “The statement of our mission is important because it defines our sense of purpose, the answer to why we are here, and provides a point of reference that should guide our planning and action.” In addition, “The mission statement …must serve to bring all members of the institutional community onto the same team.”
In sharing his vision for UNK, Dr. Murray outlined the following points:
- UNK will be a community of scholarship and love for learning!
- Our undergraduate programs will be of the highest quality.
- We will have graduate programs in selected areas which will be of the highest quality
- UNK will be ranked near the top nationally among Tier I universities of our type.
- UNK will be known and highly respected, not only in Nebraska, but worldwide!
- Mutual respect and support will prevail throughout the university community – and we will employ teamwork and take advantage of all the minds and hearts on campus.
- We will know that we are all contributing in immensely important ways to the immeasurably important job of educating students for citizenship, careers, and life-long learning.
Dr. Murray then discussed some of the challenges faced by UNK in bringing a shared vision into reality. The challenges include:
- Recognizing that change will be the constant in our lives and jobs
- Addressing high school graduates lack of preparation for college level work
- Examining the General Studies Program at UNK
- Determining the effectiveness of our educational programs
In conclusion, Dr. Murray recognized the enormous opportunities available to UNK and challenged faculty to join with him in working to take full advantage of these opportunities.
Full text available at: Remarks to the Center for Teaching Excellence: Thoughts on Undergraduate Education
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Congratulations to the Fall 2004 Teaching Award Winners!
At the UNK Opening Convocation on August 20, 2004, the winners of the Pratt-Heins Teaching Award and the Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award were announced.
The Pratt-Heins Award honors University of Nebraska at Kearney faculty members who have demonstrated superior performance in multiple aspects of teaching. Michael Tye, a trustee of the Pratt-Heins Foundation, presented the award to Dr. Wayne Briner, Department of Psychology.
Dr. Briner is recognized by both students and peers as an outstanding teacher. His collaboration in undergraduate research has resulted in ten presentations by his students at regional conferences. Wayne has conducted empirical studies of the teaching/learning process that have been presented at regional conferences and published in teaching journals. He has written and received grants that have translated into learning opportunities for students. Dr. Briner believes that the best tool for learning is discovery. His success in teaching is reflected in the comment of one of his students, “He (Dr. Briner) has shown me how to learn at a level I never thought possible in myself.”
The Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award honors faculty members who are recognized as outstanding in teaching, research, and service to the University. Chancellor Doug Kristensen presented this prestigious award to Dr. Hal Nagel, Department of Biology. In presenting the award, Chancellor Kristensen noted, “He (Dr. Nagel) is a scholar and a researcher, but first and foremost, he is an educator. His breadth of interests, and his involvement of students in those interests, is exceptional.”
Dr. Nagel is an enthusiastic teacher who goes out of his way to help his students succeed. Former students comment on his impact on their college career and decisions to stay in the field of biology. He is a prolific scientist with over 40 publications and is actively involved in research with his students. Hal is involved in service to the community and the university. He is involved with the Crane Meadows Nature Center, The Platte River Whopping Crane Maintenance Trust and the Mobile Environmental Laboratory. Dr. Nagel attends recruiting sessions for his department and the university, acts as a mentor to students and new faculty, and is an exemplary representative for the university. Hal has been recognized in the past for his many accomplishments, including receiving the Pratt-Heins award in teaching, service, and research.
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Call for Course Proposals
FIRST YEAR Program for Fall, 2005
Deadline: December 1, 2004
UNK FIRST YEAR program is in its third year and has been successful in introducing students to their academic responsibilities at UNK. In a partnership with Student Affairs, the program uses academic venues to provide students with richer, fuller interpersonal involvement on campus that can be transferred into the local and regional communities and into their future careers. By combining academic content with support from Student Services (e.g., study skills, academic expectations, social adjustment, personal welfare), this program better prepares students in liberal arts skills and values and grooms them to be highly effective and self motivated individuals.
SUBMITTING PROPOSALS FOR FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE COURSES
Courses proposed for FIRST YEAR designation might include General Studies courses or any introductory courses that focus on entering freshman. When preparing your proposal consider that the class size will be limited to 25 and you will also have a Student Peer Leader participating in the course. (Description of Student Peer Leader is available in attached Helpful Hints.) Submissions for FIRST YEAR (FY) designation should include your cover letter, approval letter from Department Chair, and a syllabus. Proposals should be submitted to the Director of FIRST YEAR program, Kate Benzel, by December 1, 2004, and will be reviewed by FIRST YEAR Advisory Council. Approvals will be posted by the end of the Fall semester so that Department Chairs can integrate the courses into their Fall 2005 scheduling.
Each new FIRST YEAR faculty member will receive a $1800 stipend for attending two mandatory training sessions (late spring and pre-semester), preparing their FIRST YEAR course, and supervising a Student Peer Leader in Fall 2005. Since the communication from Student Services support and announcements about campus events are posted on Blackboard, FY faculty is expected to be familiar with Blackboard. Faculty members continuing in the First Year program will receive an $800 stipend to reimburse them for presentation of the course, for participation in training sessions, and for supervision of Student Peer Leaders.
Click on FY HELPFUL HINTS to access a guide to assist you in developing your proposal submission. There will be a First Year Proposal Workshop on Thursday, November 4th from 3:00-4:00 (location to be arranged). Any faculty wishing to participate in this workshop, please RSVP the Center for Teaching Excellence at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-8495. You may bring your syllabus or course plans to the workshop and receive help in finalizing it.
For additional information or answers to your questions, please contact:
Kathryn N. Benzel
Professor of English
Director of First Year Program
University of Nebraska-Kearney
Kearney, NE 68849
Phone: (308) 865-8294
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UNK Faculty Publications on Teaching
The Center for Teaching Excellence is developing a bibliography of UNK faculty contributions to the scholarship of teaching. This online bibliography will be a valuable resource in accessing and documenting the contributions of faculty in the areas of learning and teaching. To begin the process, please e-mail the Center (email@example.com) the titles of journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings related to teaching/learning (please don’t include conference presentations unless they were printed in a set of proceedings).
Eventually we would like to have electronic versions of the articles or a link to where they can be accessed. This probably won’t happen until the spring semester. UNK faculty members have made substantial contributions to the scholarship of teaching and the Center would like to make these materials available to others on the campus. Thank you for your participation in this project.
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CTE Faculty Funding for Professional Development
The Center for Teaching Excellence provides stipends for faculty to attend conferences or workshops related to teaching and student learning. Preference is given to faculty who are making a presentation on teaching/learning topics. Applications should be submitted to the CTE Director. Decisions on awards will be made by the director and the CTE committee. Successful applicants will be asked to deliver their conference presentation or a topic related to the conference or workshop at a CTE seminar. Applications are available at this link.
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The Center for Teaching Excellence Has Moved
On October 13th, the Center for Teaching Excellence moved its office from West Campus E212. We are now located in Founders Hall 2111. We will be having an Open House on December 10th, but feel free to visit us in the new location before then. You can still contact the Center at 865-8495, or you can contact Jeanne Butler at 865-8006.
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Your comments and contributions are welcome!
Please send any comments or suggestions for the newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have information that you would like presented in the newsletter or would like to write something for one of the editions, please contact Jeanne Butler at 865-8495 or by email at the Center.