In the course of my transition to Central College during spring 2010, I convened small groups of faculty members to help me learn more about the college. I began each session with one question: “What do we do really well?” The responses I received were so similar I began to wonder if the answers had been rehearsed. They repeatedly indicated that faculty members at Central know how to take students from wherever they are when they arrive on campus to … the next level … to achieve their ambitions … to reach their potential … to develop confidence in their desired areas of knowledge and skill.
The consistency of their descriptions was both impressive and reassuring. Now, in my fifth year, I have found their representations to be valid and reliable, and affirmed by many others.
The father of one of our students pulled me aside at the first football game I attended and shared the following story. Early in his son’s freshman year at Central the first college-level exam was fast approaching—a big deal for both student and parent. During a phone call home, this student mentioned to his father that his professor had scheduled a review session prior to the exam for any in the class who wanted to attend. His son did attend and later reported that near the end of the scheduled session, the faculty member indicated that he would be heading home soon, but provided his home phone number to the students, inviting them to call him with additional questions any time before 11 p.m. Dad went out of his way to share this story with me so that I would know the quality of our faculty.
In the ensuing years, I have found that stories like this are quite common. Our dedicated faculty members are certainly committed to the craft of teaching, but even more importantly, they are determined to facilitate student learning.
Each year our faculty members who have been awarded endowed chairs sponsor an internal symposium for our faculty. The event is known on campus as “The Chairs Conference.” I have participated in this weekend event each of the past three years it has been in existence. The conference has become a highlight for us and is a great beginning for the academic year. The range of scholarly topics explored, the teaching methodologies shared, and the learning assessment techniques outlined are most impressive. We have a stunningly competent faculty who are students of their own practice and routinely go beyond the expectations set for them. I am proud to be associated with them.
The faculty of Central College is our greatest asset. They continue to leave a powerful legacy of teaching and learning.