Undergraduate Academic Affairs
July 12, 2010
Dear UAA Colleagues,
Each spring at commencement we bear witness to the very purpose of our work: the results of good teaching.
Events in Undergraduate Academic Affairs this spring highlighted the critical and inspiring foundation of good teaching. Listening to faculty talk about why they teach and what they love most about teaching has been very illustrative. Their care for their students and knowledge of their field and of the practice of teaching is nothing short of inspiring. They represent the complexity of deep preparation of knowledge, interdisciplinary thinking, systemic understanding of issues and problems in the world, and powerful illustrations of the many contributions the University can make toward solving those problems.
At the Distinguished Teaching Awards Showcase in May, faculty talked about challenging students and learning alongside of their students. They reinforced that teaching, inquiry, and service for the common good really do go hand in hand.
At the Undergraduate Research Symposium, we see evidence of this—students engaged in the process of discovery to generate knowledge and contribute to our understanding of our world.
Stanford research psychologist Carol Dweck says, “The students who thrive are not necessarily the ones who come in with the perfect scores. It’s the ones who love what they’re doing and go at it vigorously.” The spring 2010 scholarship nominees reception reaffirmed this statement. The reception is a celebration of students who love to learn, recognition of faculty whose love of learning inspires these students, and the passion and commitment each bring to their work. These students categorically recognize Mona Pitre-Collins and Robin Chang as invaluable in their scholarship process. It serves as a reminder to me that individuals in our unit make a difference in countless, immeasurable ways.
Our work to make more public the good teaching that happens here continues through the appointment of Beth Kalikoff to the position of director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. Beth is an associate professor in the UW Tacoma Interdisciplinary Arts Program and brings an excitement and fresh perspective that will be so critical as the center establishes itself and gains traction. Beth began her work this month. Betsy Wilson, Jerry Baldasty, and I look forward to working with her.
This summer, entering freshmen are again receiving a copy of the UW Common Book. For 2010-11 we are focusing on poetry and have compiled You Are Never Where You Are, an original collection of 15 poems. Throughout the year, we hope to engage freshmen and the campus community in poetry, voice, expression, and the persistence, courage, and imagination it takes to read and write poetry. As Honors Program writer-in-residence and selection committee member Frances McCue wrote in the book’s introduction, “Without poetry, our civilization would be unmoored to the past. There wouldn’t be a way of singing praise or suffering; we wouldn’t be articulate; we couldn’t see ourselves and how we are living. Poems are deliberate. They get us to take stock of what is out there.”
As in the past, copies of the book are available at the front desk in Mary Gates Hall 220 for UAA staff to borrow, it is in the UW libraries, and for sale at the University Book Store. I hope you pick it up and find a poem or ten that perhaps opens the world or a corner of it in a new way for you.
Vice Provost and Dean