Issue No. 35—Winter 2022
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A Message From Dean Gorman

Dear Rice Parents and Families,

While the beginning of each new semester is always an exciting time at Rice, it has been anything but routine recently, and I remain grateful to our students, faculty and families for being adaptable as we spent the first two weeks learning and teaching remotely. The majority of our students are now back, bringing energy to our campus and engaging in a multifaceted learning experience.

The last few years have presented various challenges to the traditional classroom setting at Rice and focused new attention on the art of learning. As we continuously strive for excellence in teaching, the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) — now celebrating its tenth anniversary — has been an important resource that has helped our faculty to be flexible, adaptable and accommodating during this unprecedented time.

I remember when the CTE began to take shape. John Hutchinson, the former dean of undergraduates, assembled Rice’s winners of the Piper Professorship, an award that recognizes superior teaching in higher education, to envision a program that would amplify Rice’s outstanding teaching. One of my proudest moments came when Dean Hutchinson asked me to serve as one of the founding faculty fellows of the CTE — ten years later, I am even prouder to see how the center has grown into a robust and essential resource supporting our educational mission at Rice.

In this past year alone, the CTE has trained 205 Rice instructors in innovative teaching practices through programs like the Adaptative Course Design Institute (focused on supporting hybrid and online learning), held 22 pedagogy events and workshops, and worked with 94 individual instructors, departments and programs to provide support on teaching practices and learning assessments.

Just after the new year, the CTE held its ninth annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning. In response to the center’s commitment to expanding diversity, equity, inclusion and access in the classroom, the featured speaker Dr. Frank Tuitt — vice president and chief diversity officer for the University of Connecticut — presented a keynote titled, “Moving Beyond Diversity to Create Inclusive, Affirming, and Equitable Learning Environments.” It was an engaging and well-attended event, further emphasizing the commitment of our community to teaching and learning.

The CTE is emblematic of our faculty’s energy and enthusiasm for engaging with our students. Our teachers are committed to providing a transformative learning experience at Rice, and I look forward to seeing their exceptional work in practice in the time ahead.

Sending my best wishes to you and your family,

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates