August 31, 1998

Contact: Beth Fox

(615) 322-2706

Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching to lead by example

NASHVILLE, Tenn, -- Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching, a "think tank" where teachers of every school in Vanderbilt can exchange ideas, strategies and philosophies, has hired a new director.

Allison Pingree, former acting associate director at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, joined the center in July. Pingree received her Ph.D. in English and American literature and language from Harvard and has taught there since 1988.

The Vanderbilt University Center of Teaching was founded more than 10 years ago as a resource for the College of Arts and Science only. For the past year, it has been transformed into a University-wide resource under Provost Thomas Burish's office.

"This is one of the most exciting opportunities I've had in my life," Pingree said. "I've been impressed with how supportive the University is of this center, and how seriously Vanderbilt takes its teaching. The University attends to the importance of pedagogy through substantial teaching awards, University-wide lectures and workshops, and through aligning teaching with research in its tenure and promotion decisions. It is rare to find a school that so thoroughly combines top-notch scholarship with equally high standards of teaching."

Pingree's dedication to and enthusiasm for pinpointing the skills it takes to teach well falls in line with the goals of the center.

The two main purposes of the center, Pingree explains, are to stimulate the dialogue about teaching excellence and to help members of the Vanderbilt teaching community collect, analyze and employ information about their teaching.

The center stimulates dialogue through orientations, faculty workshops and teacher assistant training, for example. Information about the quality of teaching is collected through classroom videotaping, class interviews called "student small group analysis" and individual teaching consultations.

The center will keep the programs it is known for, such as the new faculty orientation and the master teaching fellows, while incorporating some changes. Pingree would like to increase the number and variety of events the center sponsors, raise the intellectual level of discourse about teaching, introduce more interdisciplinary possibilities and create more departmental discussions about teaching throughout campus. She also will create an advisory council made up of faculty from every school.

For Pingree, the center is not just a chance to bridge the gaps of the different schools within the University and to provide feedback to the faculty - it's an opportunity to lead by example.

"This is a chance to pave a new way for other teaching centers in the nation to follow."


Vanderbilt University is a private research university of approximately 5,900 undergraduates and 4,300 graduate and professional students. Founded in 1873, the University comprises 10 schools, a public policy institute, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education and human development, engineering and music, and a full range of graduate and professional degrees.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the News and Public Affairs home page on the Internet at

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Document updated August 31, 1998.