By Janessa Rogerson
In 2017-18, the Chancellor’s Circle funded several programs that directly contributed to our student’s college enrichment and success. Highlighted this month is one of these programs – Signature Experiences. We deeply appreciate the opportunity that Chancellor Circle funds provided for these undergraduate research projects. Your generosity enabled UA Little Rock students to work with faculty on projects that took them deeper into their major and gave them opportunities to apply their knowledge. This deep learning is a vital part of what our chancellor envisions for the future of this university and what the Teacher-Scholar model is all about. If the “Ivory Tower” is not your world, or if you are not dazzled by pedagogy, (guilty!), or married to a chancellor, the Teacher-Scholar model may not be familiar to you. Let me be your guide as we explore why our chancellor believes so strongly in the teacher-scholar model, and the commitment he has made to excellence for UA Little Rock.
Simply put, Teacher-Scholars are faculty who actively engage with research in their respective fields of study, and through that, provide unique benefits to their students. These benefits include joint research opportunities, cutting-edge relevancy, increased opportunity to build strong mentor-relationships with faculty, and most importantly, the chance to explore their own creativity within their field of study.
Kenneth Ruscio, former president of Washington and Lee University, notes that the dash between “teacher” and “scholar” is significant. It is a link joining the two endeavors, not a slash dividing them. By involving students in their own research, or supervising student research, faculty help students develop the sought-after six C’s that will allow them to thrive: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creativity, and confidence. If one truly embodies the six C’s, it does not matter what degree you have; you will succeed.
There is a call for evolution in higher education. The world our students will inherit will be vastly different than the world today. Automation and artificial intelligence will replace a great number of present-day jobs. To quote from a May 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, (“The Future of Jobs and Training”): “Multiple studies have documented that massive numbers of jobs are at risk as programmed devices – many of them smart, autonomous systems – continue their march into workplaces. Workers of the future will learn to deeply cultivate and exploit creativity, collaborative activity, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication and the ability to thrive in diverse environments.” The future is now, and we know we must serve our students by providing education that equips them today for tomorrow’s world.
Universities are mission oriented, and our leadership has taken this stance: The key to success in a mid-sized public university, located in an urban core like UA Little Rock, is to provide robust research opportunities across the disciplines while offering degree programs that equip students to thrive in this rapidly changing world. Our chancellor believes that faculty who are vitally involved in research and teaching can provide opportunities for students to engage with their major, apply their knowledge, cultivate creativity, and learn skills necessary to succeed in the future.
We do not have to be experts in pedagogy to know that teachers matter. If you have ever been a student, or raised a child, you understand that a good teacher can make all the difference in one’s life. Teachers can empower, and we are fortunate to have that kind of faculty at UA Little Rock – faculty actively engaged in the curriculum revolution and in research. In addition, we have hired 42 new faculty. To see more, please explore this recent UA Little Rock Website post: link.https://ualr.edu/news/2018/08/21/new-faculty/
You will want to mark your calendars now for next spring’s Creative Works and Research Showcase the date is set for April 18 at the Jack Stephens Center. I know you will come away from the expo as I did this year, amazed at the students’ excitement, engagement with their subject, and the truly interesting research they completed – all thanks to you.
The key to educational excellence lies not in the memorization of vast amounts of information, but rather in fostering habits of mind that enable students to continue their learning, engage new questions, and reach informed judgments.
—Association of American Colleges and Universities,
College Learning for the New Global Century
ROGERSON, A. Personal Discussion
GETTINGS, M. How Teacher-Scholars Prepare Students for an Evolving World, Chronicle of Higher Education August 2017
RUSCIO, K. What Does it Mean to Be a Teacher-Scholar as sited from the Summer 2013 edition of Peer Review, a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
PEW RESEARCH CENTER: The Future of Jobs and Training May 2017
NATIONAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: College Learning for the New Global Century, Association of American Colleges and Universities, January 1, 2007