By Jennifer Hoyt
Over the Spring 2019 semester, William & Mary’s participating faculty and learning partners across the institution will gather each Wednesday in the Earl Gregg Swem Library to explore multiple perspectives on teaching and learning within higher education. And thanks to the partnership of the Dean of University Libraries and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, the lunchtime workshops will nurture a collaborated effort to create learning experiences for interested audiences on campus while providing a space for scholarly reflection.
Carrie Cooper, dean of University Libraries, shares her excitement over the upcoming series, recognizing how the combination of leadership and timing will generate a perfect academic climate. “It will shine a light on some of our most talented teachers and learning partners, and it will hopefully start to build community,” she explains. The mission and vision of W&M Libraries align well with the spring series as educators help prepare students for a new world of challenges in managing information. Moreover, the scheduled workshops are designed to promote the library as a venue for productive conversation about teaching, encouraging faculty to return to a location that offers more than academic data and archives.
Cooper credits the planning of the spring series to her own collaboration with academic leaders, specifically William & Mary’s Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. For Ann Marie Stock, developing faculty growth represents a top priority in her vice provost position. “She cares about being efficient and building community,” states the dean. To the institution’s benefit, Stock’s previous role as the first William & Mary Libraries Faculty Scholar gives her a unique perspective as academic libraries promote 21st century partnerships. “She understands the benefit of bringing faculty across the institution together and introducing faculty to people who can be learning partners,” adds Cooper.
By providing William & Mary faculty and learning partners with the opportunity to share their expertise on issues ranging from COLL curriculum to eLearning initiatives, Cooper anticipates the weekly meetings will also set the tone for Swem Library’s Ground Floor renovation project and the construction of what the dean calls the Learning Studio. In coordination with the upcoming renovation, the spring series offers a preview for the opportunities ahead as development for the $10.8 million project becomes a reality. “We’re making this idea a university-level idea, and we’ve tied it to this teaching and learning center concept,” Cooper shares.
The workshops also reflect progress made by University Teaching Project (UTP) participants who currently dedicate their time on topics like course redesign, undergraduate research, and graduate student writing. “We’ve never had an organized, university-wide effort to bring people together to talk about teaching and learning in partnership,” Cooper notes. By providing a platform for faculty and learning partners, she expects the workshops will elevate scholarly conversations to higher levels of academic excellence.