Indiana University      Research & Creative Activity      April 1998 Volume XXI Number 2


I am sitting at my desk at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where I am a senior scholar, reflecting with nostalgic pleasure on my years as president of Indiana University. Ellen and I returned to Bloomington for a visit with friends just a few weeks ago, and we heard a wonderful opera one night and another evening listened to Kurt Mazur conducting a student orchestra. What remarkable examples of the many ways that Indiana University makes its best creative work, as well as its teaching and scholarly activities, community property!

The April issue of Research & Creative Activity struck a particularly responsive chord for me and for my current work at the Carnegie Foundation. When I was IU president, I reviewed the dossiers of all faculty members recommended for tenure or promotion. During that time I was struck over and over by the strengths of the IU faculty in teaching, research, and service—the three categories in which their efforts are judged. At the same time, I worried often about how sharply we separated those categories. I was troubled about our inability to know how research informed teaching, and particularly about how little we really knew in a systematic way about the impact of our teaching on the learning of our students and how rarely we directed our research skills to that issue. Too often, the primary means of judging teaching was reviewing surveys of student satisfaction. Those surveys should certainly be one, but not the only, criterion of effective teaching.

The Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) program, described in the April issue and now a thriving community of excellent teachers from across the university, has been concerned from the outset with the role of scholarship in teaching excellence. As I recall, the opening speaker at the very first FACET retreat challenged the group to consider the perplexing question: "How did teaching and research ever get separated in the first place?"

Over time, I came to understand something that had been well known to many faculty for some time. Unlike research, teaching is rarely a public activity, subject to peer review, or accessible for use by other faculty. The goal of the Carnegie Academy, discussed in the April issue, is to create environments in which teaching is public, is reviewed critically, and is usable by others in the academic community. Clearly, IU is hospitable to this idea. A key component of the academy is the Campus Program led by Barbara Cambridge, professor of English at IUPUI, as described in the profile of her work. Several IU campuses—IUB, IUPUI, IUSB, IUK, and IUE—have already joined this important national conversation, and I hope the others will as well. I am also particularly pleased that David Pace, associate professor of history at IUB—the subject of another fine profile in the April issue—has been chosen as a Pew Scholar in the National Fellows Program that brings together outstanding faculty members from across the country to investigate and document significant issues and challenges of teaching in their fields.

In reading the The Scholarship of Teaching issue, I was delighted to learn how much is now under way at Indiana University in this arena. I congratulate my former colleagues and look forward to working with them to promote the scholarship of teaching.

Thomas Ehrlich
Senior Scholar,
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
President Emeritus of Indiana University

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