Teaching and learning
an essay by Dr. George
Shortly after being named
director (see related article),
Dr. George Barthalmus wrote an open letter to the College family.
Following is a condensed version of that letter.
Those of you who have known me
know that my dedication to students, teaching, research and extension
is unbending and unbiased. Although my focus will be on Academic
Programs, I firmly support the teaching and learning that occurs
through research and extension. I have experienced the synergy
that rises out of the close association between our three College
functions and from the single but dynamic fabric that expresses
the ties between the agricultural and life sciences units. This
fabric is our strength and the envy of others.
Following are some key areas of focus:
- Academic excellence must be promoted and
defended as we are pressed to grow in enrollment while adapting
to dramatic changes in science and technology and to greater
expectations from clientele and taxpayers.
- Strong undergraduate student advising
and mentoring services must be shaped into the normal culture
of student-faculty ties.
- We must learn to better respond to the
ever-increasing demand for accountability. We must show that
having been with us for four or five years has changed students
lives in important and measurable ways.
- The agricultural and life sciences are
undergoing a scientific and technological revolution. I will
help shape our curricula to better position our graduates for
jobs in the emerging agricultural, environmental and health-related
industries. I want the College to be positioned so that our students
not only recognize career options but are sought out by industries
and graduate programs.
- Do we need to offer more than 40 undergraduate
curricula? Or should we focus our menu, making it better and
more reflective of realities in campus resources and the employment
world? I ask that we study this issue.
- We must use our facilities and faculty
time efficiently. I will encourage adapting a few courses (perhaps
beginning with graduate courses) that can be taught in 1-3 credit
modules over abbreviated time periods (3-6 weeks) and at atypical
times (evenings or weekends).
- I will promote undergraduate research
at every turn. All experience-based learning activities will
be encouraged and financially supported.
- We need capstone undergraduate courses
that challenge our students to synthesize new ideas and to question
old ones through discourse, teamwork and writing.
- Teaching counts with me in tenure, promotion
and salary adjustment decisions. Advising not only counts, it
is expected and it factors into the faculty workload.
- The College must increase its scholarship
and graduate student support pools. The dollar value here is
inextricably linked to excellent programs and satisfied graduates
- I encourage faculty members to build a
family spirit with students, a closer bond within departments,
and a greater sense of shared excitement for learning. I also
encourage graduate student involvement in the mentoring of undergraduate
- I believe in advocacy initiatives that
support new faculty, and I support the systematic peer review
- Student diversity is not an issue solely
hinged to ethnicity and race. Students will be admitted and scholarships
awarded based upon academic record, curriculum interests, special
talents, leadership potential, unique work or service experience,
appreciation of cultural and human diversity issues, urban or
rural residency, ethnicity, gender and physical and/or learning
At 115 Patterson Hall, my door is always
open to you.