Five faculty members named to Provost scholarship program

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Five educators will soon be working to advance teaching, mentorship, leadership, and academic freedom at the university through the Provost Fellows program.

The following were selected as scholarship recipients for 2022:

  • Yizhao Yang, associate professor of planning, public policy and management.
  • Jagdeep Bala, Senior Instructor II in Psychology.
  • Charise Cheney, Associate Professor of Indigenous, Racial and Ethnic Studies.
  • Pedro Garcia-Caro, associate professor of Spanish.
  • Joe Lowndes, professor of political science.

As a lecturer, Yang will dive deep into emerging teaching methods with the goal of identifying areas where the university can invest to improve student learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with a great, if somewhat unwanted, opportunity to experiment with multiple teaching modalities,” Yang said. “I think blended modalities that allow for greater flexibility and accessibility in learning will be in high sustained demand in the future.”

The focus of the project stems from Yang’s interest in using technology-assisted methodologies in the classroom and her experience in conducting evidence-based research to inform decisions.

Leadership colleague Bala will work to create onboarding programs for faculty leaders at the university.

“I really hope it will be easier for teachers to step up and take on leadership roles by institutionalizing collaborative learning, mutual development, as well as the development of effective strategies for leading peers and empowering students. others,” Bala said.

Bala wants university forums and faculty leaders to build a culture of diversity and inclusion. The project was inspired by Bala’s “really long list of ‘things I wish I had known when I started'”.

Meanwhile, as a mentorship fellow, Cheney will look for ways to support black faculty members across campus.

“The Mentorship Fellowship will give me the time and opportunity to focus on what works and doesn’t work with the university’s retention efforts, especially when it comes to young black faculty,” he said. she stated. “I am the director of the Black Studies Program, and I believe that its success depends on the recruitment and retention of black professors, who also serve as mentors to black students.”

Garcia-Caro, one of two Academic Freedom Scholars, praised the university for the protections already in place, but said more work could be done to help faculty members complete their plans.

“Academic freedom is the foundation upon which research and intellectual independence must rest,” said Garcia-Caro. “When censorship, political or religious interference, or even economic and financial pressures, are brought to bear on researchers, their freedom to conduct research and teach its results is impacted.”

He will work on a handbook for faculty members and work alongside Lowndes, the other academic freedom fellow, on an academic freedom conference this fall.

“We are now at a time when academic freedom is under attack from major donors, state legislatures, right-wing organizations and white supremacists across the country,” he said. “These attacks range from gag orders to pressure on boards of directors, to right-wing ‘watch lists’, to doxxing on social media, to individual threats against teachers, especially teachers of color.”

Lowndes hopes the university can devise strategies to better protect academic freedom in the future and set a national standard.

—By Chelsea Hunt, Provost’s Office

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