The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology is currently down to one academic teaching consultant, after four have resigned or retired since mid-summer.
Hil Scott, who had worked for the University of Richmond since 1992 and was a liaison to the arts faculty, retired from the CTLT in July. Nick Cammarano, liaison to the science faculty; Matt Trevett-Smith, liaison to the social sciences faculty; and Ken Warren, liaison to the humanities faculty, all resigned in the past several weeks. Jon Messer is the remaining academic teaching consultant.
The CTLT provides support to help faculty improve their teaching, and Kevin Creamer, the center’s director, said the remaining staff members were “making the best possible choices for how we spend our time” in response to the losses.
They are focusing on making sure the rest of the semester runs smoothly, and that “class projects that were already in the works are still up and running,” he said.
Elisabeth Gruner, associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, has worked with the CTLT and used Warren as a resource for her classes that involved digital storytelling projects.
“Ken’s a terrific instructor,” she said, “and he works really closely with a number of faculty.” Gruner said Warren’s departure from the university would be a great loss.
Creamer said these four openings provided an opportunity “to rebuild the group with new sets of technical chops.” Creamer wants to talk to as many faculty members as he can and hear what their requests and needs are for technological support, he said.
Joe Essid, director of the Writing Center, has also worked closely with Warren to help his students create digital stories.
“The students did the work,” Essid said of the impressive results, “but I really have to credit Ken for having that combination of technological, pedagogical and artistic skill to make those projects come off well.”
Essid was not surprised to hear Warren was leaving because it is typical for people in the technology field to frequently switch jobs, he said. The liaisons’ coincidentally simultaneous departures do not concern Essid either, he said. An improved economy allows institutions to be able to put out job listings they could not afford to in the past few years, he said.
Creamer does not think there was any other underlying reason for these simultaneous departures, but if there were, he said he would find out because he would be receiving feedback from the exit interviews that Human Resources conducts with resigning and retiring employees.
“While this many leaving at once is unusual,” he said, “the positions are often high-turnover.” The kinds of people who are in these positions have high levels of skills in many areas, and are attractive to employers, he said.
When Scott, Cammarano, Trevett-Smith and Warren were asked in emails why they decided to leave, they gave these responses:
Scott wrote that he had retired from the CTLT in July and would be teaching future media production courses in the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Trevett-Smith wrote that he could confirm he had departed from the center, and that he too would be an adjunct professor in the SPCS this semester.
Warren wrote that he could confirm he was resigning from the CTLT to assume a faculty position at VCU’s School of Medicine, but that he had no additional comments.
Cammarano and the consultants’ direct supervisor, Fred Hagemeister, did not respond to The Collegian’s requests for an interview.
Creamer said the CTLT’s liaisons were encouraged to teach in the SPCS and that almost all of them do at some point. Teaching helps them better understand their work as liaisons, he said. They are helping professors with teaching methods, so to try those methods on their own students is the best test of their work, Creamer said.
Essid agreed: “Technology cannot drive the classroom. Pedagogy hast to come first. And our CTLT understands that. They’re not just pushing technology at us; they understand teaching.”
The Collegian also called and sent an email to Provost Steve Allred asking to discuss the impact these four departures might have on the campus. Allred replied in an email that he had no comment on the topic.
Contact staff writer Maggie Burch at email@example.com