The University of Georgia Teaching Academy was established in the Fall of 1999 as a forum to discuss, celebrate and promote teaching excellence. This program is part of the Teaching Academy Campus Program initiated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the American Association for Higher Education. The Carnegie Foundation is leading a national effort to affirm teaching as significant intellectual, scholarly work and to advance models of teaching that foster deep and lasting understanding by students.
What is a Teaching Academy?
Generally accepted definitions of a teaching academy include: a group of faculty who are considered excellent or highly interested in teaching and who have been tapped by their institution to engage in advocacy, service, or advising on teaching matters, and an honorary and service oriented collective that can have a significant impact on an institution’s pursuit of teaching excellence.
Origins at UGA
During a campus visit in the Spring of 1999, Dr. Lee Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, invited UGA to establish a teaching academy as part of the Foundation’s initiative to foster a national network of teaching academies. The goal of these academies is to provide a structure, support and forum for the scholarship of teaching and learning.
A small group of faculty took Dr. Shulman’s invitation to heart and met with Dr. Tom Dyer, then Vice President of Instruction, to discuss the feasibility of this initiative. Dr. Dyer sent a memo to all Meigs and Russell Award Recipients, Lilly and Senior Fellows, and Regents, Research and University Professors inquiring about their interest in forming and participating in such an organization. From this initial inquiry, an Advisory Committee was formed, and on October 27, 1999 the UGA Teaching Academy was officially founded with 13 charter members. These founding members crafted the mission statements that guide the work of the Academy.
In the Fall of 2000, 52 new members of the Inaugural Class of the Teaching Academy were inducted into membership and began discussing academy goals and possibilities for future initiatives. Since the founding of the UGA Teaching Academy, members have worked diligently to create a dynamic organization that reflects the unique needs of the University of Georgia campus.
The inaugural group participated in a workshop titled “Taking Teaching Seriously: An Agenda for the UGA Teaching Academy.” Through the course of this workshop, the members made several recommendations to strength the message and mission of the Academy:
- Make teaching “community property”
- Create undergraduate teaching opportunities
- Establish chaired teaching professorships
- Engage talents of retiring faculty
- Establish interdisciplinary teaching circles
- Establish teacher mentoring programs
- Sponsor workshops and seminars
Through these recommendations, the Teaching Academy serves as a focal point for thoughtful and informed conversation related to UGA’s teaching mission, and seeks to build a university culture that endorses all aspects of academic professionalism.