University | Teaching | Initiative

The History of the University Teaching Initiative


The University Teaching Initiative had its roots in the University-Wide Self Study process, undertaken by faculty and administrators throughout the University of Virginia in 1994-95 as part of the Universityís decennial reaccreditation process and the Virginia General Assemblyís 1994 restructuring mandate. The Faculty Senate and the Provostís Office had a central role in overseeing the Self-Study and in implementing its recommendations.

The Self-Study Committee on the Improvement of Teaching, chaired by Stephen Cushman, Department of English, responded to the following charges:

The Committee began with the premise that effective teaching arises from the synthesis of sound pedagogical techniques with the deep knowledge and active curiosity that characterize serious scholarly inquiry and chose two guiding principles:

1) to recognize and reward effective teaching
2) to foster constructive interaction among teaching, research, and service.

After surveying departments and schools about their methods for stimulating effective teaching by instructors at all levels, the Committee submitted recommendations
(http://www.virginia.edu/admin/tarex/issues.html#teaching):

 In Fall 1996 the Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate, chaired by Edward Ayers, Department of History, began implementing these recommendations by initiating a year-long University-wide series of Teaching Conversations.  Senators organized in their departments and schools discussions of current teaching practices, with a focus on the issues of evaluating teaching, developing ever more effective teaching, and providing incentives for superior teaching.  For summary recommendations, see http://minerva.acc.Virginia.EDU/~facsen/TCfinal2.html.

 In response to these recommendations and to the active engagement of faculty over the issues related to teaching, the Provost funded the University Teaching Initiative Program at $100,000 per year for a three-year period (1998-2001).

The Program was administered by the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Affairs in consultation with the Teaching Resource Center.  Details of this Initiative can be seen in the request for proposals.

Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Affairs:
Marva Barnett, Teaching Resource Center, French Department
Louis Bloomfield, Physics Department
Stephen Cushman (Chair), English Department
L. Guernsey
Mark Haskins, Darden School of Business Administration
Saul Levmore, School of Law
Brenda Loyd, Curry School of Education
Kirk Martini, School of Architecture
Barbara Nolan, Vice Provost
Randy Pausch, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Ben Ray, Religious Studies Department
Judith Sands, School of Nursing
Munsey Wheby, School of Medicine


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