Inside USD

Center for Educational Excellence Supports Faculty

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

sandra-photoThe University of San Diego provides a wealth of support services for students and staff, but when faculty members need to talk and find ways to maximize their talents, where do they go?

One place is the Center for Educational Excellence.

“The center is designed to facilitate faculty development at all stages of the faculty process,” said Sandra Sgoutas-Emch (pictured), CEE director since January and a longtime USD psychology professor. “I feel it’s so important for faculty to have a place and for programming to help faculty grow.”

The center, on the main floor of Copley Library, is an outlet for faculty — particularly new and adjunct — to ask questions, get answers, meet new people and find ways to improve the USD educational experience for students.

The center listens, too. CEE instituted an end-of-the-school-year reflection for new faculty members last month, and feedback from it will be addressed in future CEE programs. Questions among new faculty tend to be about rank and tenure, and they also may suggest ways to strike a balance between teaching and research, both of which are priorities at USD.

“We’re trying to design programming around what their biggest concerns are,” she said. “We have programming that varies from social issues, maternity leave to pedagogy. All of it is important so faculty become better at what they do. That includes their life, too. If they’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, (reaction to) stress is one of my areas of research.”

Sgoutas-Emch, has limited her own stress while transitioning to CEE director after Carole Huston moved over to become director of assessment in USD’s College of Arts and Sciences. Sgoutas-Emch, who was associate director last fall under Huston, credits her for paving the way.

“Carole is an invaluable resource, and it’s been great to know her and work with her,” said Sgoutas-Emch. “She’s an immense encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to this area.”

Sgoutas-Emch has the support of CEE assistant director Amanda Ryan and administrative assistant David Ornales. CEE enlists an advisory board with academic representatives and staff members from information technology services and the library.

Working with a cross-section of people on campus is a plus for CEE. It’s an opportunity to do such things as interdisciplinary research. “If you look nationwide and internationally, that’s the trend,” Sgoutas-Emch said.

She hopes to develop a network across the university to link people with similar research or teaching interests. Other ideas include setting up a scholarship of teaching and learning program, enhancing diversity programming, developing a writing community for faculty and hosting dinner discussions to get the faculty thinking about different disciplines and ways to implement them into their program.

“I’ve seen an evolution of more and more faculty coming to our events and coming to us, asking for resources and for help and ideas for programming,” she said. “We want this to be faculty-driven, so we hope the faculty are open to giving us feedback and letting us know what they’d like to see happen.”

For more information about CEE, click here.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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