On August 1, Simmons welcomed Dr. Jennifer H. Herman as its new director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET), which was launched last year under the direction of Dr. Barbara Walvoord. Herman came to Simmons from Niagara University, where she spent seven years as director of Instructional Support and designed and established the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching, and Learning. Herman earned her doctorate in 2012 from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Higher Education Administration.
Since arriving on campus, Herman has met with the academic deans as well as a few dozen faculty members to gain insight into the types of workshops and support the CET should offer.
“I want the programs that I offer to really respond to what people are looking for and not offer things in a vacuum,” she said. “We’re leaving the schedule flexible so that we can respond to requests and interests from individual faculty members and departments.”
Herman will continue to meet with faculty as the academic year progresses, offering confidential individual teaching consultations and classroom observations for professors to get constructive feedback on their practices. The Center will also be inviting national guest speakers to campus to lead workshops, offer roundtable-style discussions, and host a year-long Faculty Learning Committee program focused on transformative learning.
On September 3, the Center hosted its first orientation for new faculty in conjunction with the Provost’s Office, inviting veteran faculty members to act as mentors for new colleagues. The event gave new faculty a chance to get to know one another and talk about teaching, Herman said, something the CET strives to facilitate.
“A teaching learning center on campus helps to bring a sense of community,” she said. “It’s a way to bring people together around something that’s for their personal growth and that’s professionally interesting.”