A Welcome Letter from Dr. Gail D. Burd

April 5, 2021
Gail Burd photograph

Welcome from Gail Burd, CIRTL Institutional Leader

Our Successes with Faculty Professional Development

The seeds for the UArizona CIRTL Network originated from an extremely successful program that began in 2013 with an Association of American Universities (AAU) Undergraduate STEM Education Award. As one of only eight institutions to receive the three-year award, we brought together a coalition of willing STEM faculty from across campus and professionals from the Office of Instruction and Assessment (OIA), together with strong administrative support, collaborated to build an interactive network to support evidence-based teaching and active and collaborative learning.

This team provided additional faculty professional development through Faculty Learning Communities, a summer workshop on collaborative teaching and learning, a Quick-Start workshop for undergraduate learning assistants and graduate student TAs, and a Learning to Learn (L2L) web resource page.

Furthermore, the Provost Office received an endowment and a donation in 2015 to establish the Center for University Education Scholarship (CUES) with the goal to develop faculty scholars in teaching by offering grant awards for projects that study evidence-based, inclusive teaching and learning.

Most of the University’s focus on teaching and learning has been directed toward faculty professional development and improved undergraduate learning. President Robbins and Provost Folks fully support the widespread use of evidence-based teaching methods and the development of collaborative learning classrooms. In fact, these initiatives comprise Pillar 1.3 of the strategic plan implemented in November 2018.

We can rightly claim to have stimulated a culture change toward evidence-based teaching that was initiated by the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project.

Current and Future Professional Development for Grad Students and Postdocs

Thus, the University has provided significant support and professional development to faculty. Now, through the UArizona CIRTL Network, we are expanding our work to include explicit support for graduate student and postdoctoral scholar professional development in teaching.

Building on the excellent University of Arizona education in research for STEM graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, the goal of the UArizona CIRTL Network is to enhance the research training with preparation for excellence in teaching. This will make our CIRTL participants much more attractive applicants for faculty positions at other colleges and universities.

The University’s coalition of willing faculty, professionals, and administrators are now working to provide excellent professional development in teaching and learning to our graduate students and postdocs.

Dr. Gail Burd is the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Teaching, and Learning and a University Distinguished Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology.