Westminster Offers Inaugural Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellowship
Program provides new Ph.D. recipients with opportunities to develop specific teaching-style proficiency
SALT LAKE CITY – While many universities throughout the country provide research opportunities for post-doctoral scholars, few offer opportunities to develop proficiency in a specific teaching style. To address this issue, Westminster has created a unique post-doc teaching fellowship that provides fellows the opportunity to observe and teach classes that place more emphasis on what students learn rather than what teachers teach.
In its inaugural year, the Westminster Teaching Fellows Program has hired Daniel Cruz, Ph.D., as an English Composition and Literature Fellow. During the fellowship, Cruz will observe and teach classes that are both collaborative and cross-disciplinary, and emphasize learning outcomes.
“Westminster created the fellows program to attract and support promising post-doctoral scholars from various backgrounds whose life experience, research experience and employment background will contribute significantly to the academic excellence of the college. We also expect that they will use our ‘student learning’ model throughout their careers and contribute to improving higher education at other institutions,” said Dr. Mary Jane Chase, dean of Westminster’s School of Arts and Sciences. “We have strongly encouraged candidates from historically underrepresented groups to apply for the fellowship.”
With his Puerto Rican heritage and bisexual orientation, Cruz hopes to be a “visible piece of diversity for his classes.” He originally hails from the Bronx, New York, and received his undergraduate degree in religion from Goshen College in Indiana, and his Master of Arts in British and American Literature and Ph.D. in English at Northern Illinois University.
Cruz ultimately hopes to teach college-level English at a small liberal arts school similar to Westminster, where student learning is emphasized and embraced.
“Students are very engaged here, and I’ve enjoyed the focus on individualized instruction,” explained Cruz, who is teaching 12 credit hours this semester. “Westminster’s focus on student learning above all else has been very refreshing.”
During the two-year fellowship program, Cruz will participate in faculty development programs, observe experienced faculty in the classroom and then discuss the way they structured the learning experience, have his classes videotaped and critiqued, and participate in a learning community. In his second year, he will have the opportunity to participate in employment-readiness activities such as mock interviews and teaching/research presentations.
Cruz added that Westminster’s college-wide learning goals of critical thinking, reflective capacities, leadership and collaboration, communication skills and global consciousness have also contributed to his teaching experience here.
“Westminster’s requirement for all classes to integrate the college-wide learning goals into their syllabus has really helped me hone my teaching strategies,” he said. “I’ve also enjoyed the freedom to plan my syllabus around teaching transferable skills to my students rather than just facts out of textbooks. I feel like my students aren’t just cramming knowledge into their heads, but that they are actually learning real-world skills.”
Westminster hopes to hire two additional fellows in the speech and physics fields for the upcoming academic year.
Media Contacts: Krista DeAngelis and Arikka Von (801) 832-2682
Dec. 5, 2011
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster is distinguished by its unique environment for learning. Westminster prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences and its vibrant campus community. Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake, further enriches the college experience. For more information visit www.westminstercollege.edu or follow @WestminsterSLC on Twitter.