Grazing - a personal blog from Steve Ehrmann

Steve Ehrmann is an author, speaker, and consultant.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Three steps forward for GW

The following three recent events have at least one thing in common, which I'll get to in a moment.

First, George Washington University agreed to host a program to host undergrads and high school students from Brazil in an exciting and innovative summer program.  The Brasilia Program exemplifies a crucial strength of GW education - creating a rich interaction between formal instruction and real world activity. In this case, students are taking classes in the mornings and doing field work in the afternoons.  Georgette Edmondson-Wright, Assistant Provost for Summer and Special Programs, pulled together a coalition of faculty and staff from across GW to plan this superlative initiative.  (And it doesn't hurt that, at a time, when GW is working hard to balance the budget for next year, the Brasilia project will help the entire institution financially.)

This past Monday, the Faculty Honors program showcased what's great about our faculty and graduate assistants.  Awards were given for teaching, scholarship and service and some of our longest-serving faculty were honored.  If you weren't able to be there, take a look at these inspirational videos of the recipients of the Trachtenberg Prizes, the Bender Awards for teaching excellence, and the Amsterdam awards for best teaching by graduate students. The ceremony drew a packed house to the Morton Auditorium.  It was particularly exciting to see the students who'd come to help honor their instructors.  Kaithlyn Kayer of the Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL) coordinated preparations for the ceremony and Aaron Kramer of the Teaching and Learning Collaborative (TLC) organized the teaching awards competitions from beginning to end.   Folks seemed to think it was the biggest, best celebration of its kind that GW had ever had.

"Biggest and best" was also a phrase that came to mind the very next day on the first day of Research Days at GW, when research by over a hundred undergraduate and many grad students was displayed and judged. (To get a sense of how excited I got, and why, check out this video, starting at the 3:00 mark.)  The Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research (CUFR) worked closely with the Office the the Vice Provost for Research to create this event.  For CUFR, Paul Hoyt O'Connor and Prof. Margaret Gonglewski led the way.  The exhibit halls at the Marvin Center were jammed with faculty, students and staff who'd come to marvel at the work and talk with the student researchers.  Two years ago, Research Day for undergraduates drew 69 student researchers, last year 89, and this year about 115.  What impressed me even more was the uniformly high quality of the work this year. I don't envy the 80+ faculty who had to pick the winners from this stellar group but I certainly do envy the hundred faculty who got to mentor them!

What do these three events have in common? Aside from the fact that all of them were significant for the entire university, they were each pulled together by people from the Office of Teaching and Learning; OTL includes Summer and Special Programs, TLC, CUFR, Assessment, and Academic Technologies.  In each instance, our folks worked closely with other units and individuals all across GW. But, OTL is my unit so I'm especially proud of the people I work with.

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