Center for Teaching celebrates 35 years; special panel set for Oct. 29

Center for Teaching 35th anniversary logoThe Vanderbilt Center for Teaching will celebrate its 35th anniversary by hosting a special panel featuring Center for Teaching staff and graduate fellow alumni. The panel will be moderated by Allison Pingree, senior instructional coach at the Teaching and Learning Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education and former Center for Teaching director from 1998 to 2011. Panelists will discuss a series of questions on teaching and learning in higher education and the field of educational development. The panelists include:

  • Peter Felten, assistant provost for teaching and learning and professor of history at Elon University;
  • Brielle Harbin, assistant professor of political science at the United States Naval Academy;
  • Shederick McClendon, a higher education consultant and senior partner at Sphinx Global Solutions; and
  • Katie Headrick Taylor, associate professor of learning sciences and human development at the University of Washington.

The virtual event, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 29, from 11 a.m. to noon CT, is open to Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students, Center for Teaching alumni and anyone with an interest in teaching and learning in higher education. Please register in advance for the Zoom link.

The day before, Thursday, Oct. 28, the Center for Teaching will host a virtual reunion for current and former center staff and graduate fellows from 2 to 3 p.m. CT. The reunion will celebrate the history of the Center for Teaching and connect center alumni across higher education. Alumni are invited to register for this reunion.

The Center for Teaching started as a small unit in the College of Arts and Science in 1986 led by founding director Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Teachers Do. Subsequent directors included Linda Nilson, author of Teaching at Its Best: A Research-based Resource for College Instructors, and Allison Pingree, who shepherded the center’s move to the Office of the Provost in the late 1990s.

“There were seven full-time staff when I started here as an assistant director in 2005,” said Derek Bruff, assistant provost and executive director of the Center for Teaching. “The center now has 14 full-time staff and a number of graduate students in various positions. After a very busy 2020 helping faculty transition to online and hybrid instruction, our value to the campus and, indeed, higher education has never been clearer.”

The Center for Teaching has provided a variety of offerings to the Vanderbilt teaching community over the years, from orientations for new teaching assistants and new faculty to flagship programs like the Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program and Course Design Institutes to ongoing pedagogical and technical support for educational technologies. Center-led faculty learning communities have explored community-engaged teaching, the scholarship of teaching, inclusive teaching practices and digital pedagogies, among many other topics. Center for Teaching staff have conducted thousands of individual teaching observations and consultations with faculty, postdocs and graduate students. The center’s impact goes beyond Vanderbilt as well, thanks to the online teaching guides, podcasts and books produced by Center for Teaching staff.

“Center for Teaching staff teach a few hundred Vanderbilt students directly every year,” Bruff said. “But our indirect impact on the student learning experience is far greater through the work we do with hundreds of Vanderbilt faculty, helping them make more informed, intentional and effective teaching choices. We have a talented and hardworking team at the center, and I’m proud of the work they do in service to the university’s teaching mission.”

More information about the 35th anniversary celebrations can be found on the Center for Teaching website.