Faculty development center to get new name, resources

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A renovated Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will be revealed with a new name and a different approach to develop faculty skills for Fall 2006.

The Center for Innovative and Engaged Learning Opportunities will help develop skills among faculty by introducing to professors new ways of teaching.

For example, Randal Cummings, coordinator of online instruction in Undergraduate Studies, said he works with faculty and teaches them how to instruct their class by incorporating online technology. He also teaches faculty how to teach classes online.

The Center for Community Service Learning engages faculty and students to work with the community, he said.

“The new CIELO will continue to serve faculty just as CELT has in the past, but will be done in a more organic way,” Cummings said.

The acronym for the center is meaningful, said Cynthia Rawitch, associate vice president for Undergraduate Studies.

“In Spanish, the word ‘cielo’ means ‘sky,’ and the center will encourage faculty to reach for the sky,” Rawitch said. “There is nowhere to go but up.”

Three offices currently share the same space inside University Hall: Online Instruction, the Center for Community Service Learning and CELT. CIELO will bring these groups together under one facility, Rawitch said.

“Once we have combined with CELT, we will be able to combine and coordinate grant money, but the one thing we (are) about is innovation in teaching and engaging students in learning,” Cummings said.

Provost Harry Hellenbrand first suggested the development of the center.

The renovation had a lot to do with budget cuts and it became necessary to develop more efficient ways to perform CELT’s services while saving money, Hellenbrand said.

The purpose of CELT is to keep the university a learning-centered institution by showing faculty how to teach in more innovative ways.

Rawitch said she became involved last spring. Since then, she has been meeting with Hellenbrand and the faculty advisory board working on the renovation of CELT.

“Trying to teach the same number of students for less money is a difficult thing to do. It’s like trying to fit a size 12 foot in a size 10 shoe,” Hellenbrand said.

Nevertheless, Rawitch said CIELO will not produce major savings for the university. CELT needs to be revamped not to save money, but to make it more exciting for faculty to teach.

Rawich said that during next semester, a mission statement will be created for the new entity that will be CIELO. In addition, the faculty advisory committee will begin the search for a new director, as the current director of CELT, Cynthia Desrochers, will not return as director of CIELO. Other positions, including associate director, will also be available to any faculty member or anyone currently working within CELT.

“We are not throwing anyone out or doing away with CELT, we are expanding,” Rawitch said.

CIELO will affect students in many ways, said Rawitch, as their professors will have more support in creating new approaches in teaching them.

Rawitch said one idea that is currently being experimented with freshmen students this semester is class-linking. This involves a mutual theme being taught to the same group of students between two general education classes in something called a “freshman cohort.”

Ariana Rodriguez can be reached at ariana.rodriguez@csun.edu.