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University Academy of Teaching

About the Academy

Quality teaching lies at the heart of a great University.  Yet U.Va.’s academic mission is under stress, from larger classes and austere budgets.  Faculty work hard to maintain academic excellence, and students are keenly hungry for and appreciative of classes that engage, challenge, inspire.  Professors whose teaching is not at the level they desire improve significantly through working with accomplished colleagues.  The University is blessed with generous teaching stars in all disciplines who already informally give back, sharing wisdom with interested colleagues about designing and delivering great courses.  The University Academy of Teaching leverages this asset, our corps of master teachers, by recognizing them and engaging their passion as mentors to colleagues who wish to enhance students’ learning.  The Academy is a robust mechanism for developing expertise by teachers for teachers.

The University Academy of Teaching recognizes exemplary professors who have generously and collaboratively shared their know-how with faculty and graduate teaching assistant colleagues throughout the University community, especially across Departmental and School boundaries.  In diverse, innovative ways, consistently, over an extended time, Academy members have distinguished themselves with their ability to communicate their excellent skill in facilitating students’ learning.  Academy members have typically won a University-wide teaching award.  The Academy engages its members to share their expertise with a broader audience of colleagues through a series of programs that will further raise the level of pedagogy at the University of Virginia.

Founded as a pilot program in 2011, the University Academy of Teaching is housed in the University of Virginia Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and directed by an Advisory Board made up of Academy members and CTE faculty.

Academy Goals & Benefits to U.Va.:

The Academy links an underutilized asset—master teachers—to a critical need—colleagues seeking to explore new approaches and aiming to expand their teaching skills.  It helps increase the University’s fine reputation for teaching and provides a robust means through which many more faculty and graduate teaching assistants can take advantage of teaching development.  The Academy engages the University’s best teachers to undertake the responsibility of being change agents.

Benefits to the University include these:

  • A new, interdisciplinary venue through which faculty confront challenges to students’ learning and raise the level of teaching
  • New, creative teaching ventures among mid- and late-career faculty
  • Impressive faculty members who compellingly represent teaching to such constituencies as alumni and prospective students
  • Retention of faculty honored in this manner
  • Innovative projects that improve student learning in many contexts, for instance:
    • Teaching gateway courses well
    • Engaging students deeply even as classes grow larger
  • Greater recognition for the value of excellent teaching

Generous initial funding for the University Academy of Teaching was provided by The Jefferson Trust, an Initiative of the U.Va. Alumni Association, by Vice Provost for Academic Programs J. Milton Adams, and by the Center for Teaching Excellence.  It is hoped that the accomplishments of the Academy will attract additional philanthropic support. To support the University Academy of Teaching click here.

Executive Board:

President:  Dennis Proffitt, Psychology
Retreat Chair:  Jeff Holt, Statistics
Outreach Co-Chairs:  Claire Cronmiller, Biology & Stephen Arata, English
Membership Chair: William Johnson, Materials Sciences and Engineering
Fundraising Chair: Ira Bashkow, Anthropology
CTE Members: Marva Barnett, Founding Director