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From the Executive Director

Posted by on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in News.

As I write this, I’m down to one stack of papers to grade for my first-year writing seminar. Grading those papers may be the most normal thing I do in my spring course! From Zooming in remote students to using new tools like Perusall and Teams to changing up my assessments, so much of my teaching felt like an experiment this semester. The last year has required a great deal of experimentation from the Vanderbilt teaching community. I’m glad that the Center for Teaching could play a role supporting that creativity and innovation, and that we’ll continue to do so.

You may have seen the news about two new internal funding programs, the Educational Advancement Fund and the Course Improvement Grant Program. These programs are designed to support excellence in teaching, and I’m excited that the Center for Teaching is partnering with the Office of Faculty Affairs to manage and support these programs. Applications for the first round of funding are due May 21st. Thanks to Cynthia Brame, associate director, and Julaine Fowlin, assistant director for instructional design, for heading up this great new opportunity for faculty.

You may have also noticed that I have a new title: assistant provost and executive director of the Center for Teaching. This promotion reflects the incredible work of the Center for Teaching, particularly over the last year as we helped Vanderbilt faculty learn the kinds of adaptive teaching they needed to support student learning during very challenging times. I’m excited to be part of the Provost’s team, taking on new projects focusing on teaching, learning, and faculty development.

One of those projects is the recently announced Digital Commons. Located in the beautiful building at 1101 19th Avenue just down the street from the CFT, the Digital Commons will offer programs and services to help Vanderbilt faculty learn the skills they need to use digital technologies in their research and teaching. For years, I’ve been helping faculty make intentional choices about using technology in their teaching. Now, as interim director of the Digital Commons, I have the chance to extend that work into faculty research and scholarship.

With my CFT hat on, I’m excited to welcome Michael Coley to the team as our new instructional technologist. Michael has a background in agricultural education, including the study of technology use by Tennessee teachers. We are glad to have him on the Brightspace support team, helping the Vanderbilt teaching community get the most out of Brightspace and related technologies.

Michael replaces longtime Brightspace support team member Brandon Crawford, who his moving on to new opportunities at Kennesaw State University. We’ll miss Brandon, and we wish him all the best in Georgia!


Derek Bruff, executive director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching





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