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Vol. V No. 6   ·   21 September 2001 


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Center for Excellence in Teaching to offer mentoring program

By David J. Craig

BU faculty members wanting to improve as teachers soon will be able to get feedback and advice from the University's best, through the new Center for Excellence in Teaching. The Peer Advising and Mentoring Program, one of several initiatives being launched this year by the center, will pair professors acknowledged for their skill in the classroom with faculty who request that a colleague observe and review their teaching methods.

  Sharon Prado, executive director of the new Center for Excellence in Teaching, and Kevin Smith, a CAS physics professor and academic director of the center, plan to launch a mentoring program for BU faculty this fall. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

The Peer Advising and Mentoring Program "is organized outside of the University's academic departments, so the reviews that take place are entirely confidential," says Kevin Smith, a CAS physics professor and the academic director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching. Smith won the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the University's highest teaching honor, in 1999. "The reviews are not sent to academic departments," he says, "and don't enter into any tenure, merit, or promotion decisions, so there is no downside to taking part."

A faculty member may want to brush up on teaching skills, says Smith, in preparation for the performance reviews conducted regularly by academic departments as part of the tenure and promotion process. "Faculty members also might be advised by their department to see us about getting a mentor," he says, "or they might be motivated simply out of the desire to get a fresh pair of eyes and to learn to teach better."

The Center for Excellence in Teaching currently is compiling a list of faculty members who will serve as mentors, and later this semester will offer the Peer Advising and Mentoring Program, according to Sharon Prado, executive director of the center and director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Prado says that the center's 18-member advisory board also is in the process of planning workshops and other professional development activities about using technology, teaching large classes, and issues pertaining specifically to adjunct professors, lecturers, and graduate student teaching assistants.

In addition to eventually offering training workshops to BU instructors on a wide range of subjects, the center also serves as a clearinghouse for information about professional development opportunities that already exist at BU through individual schools and colleges. In late August, before classes began, the center held an orientation program for new faculty members.

"A well-rounded faculty member is someone who can balance the demands of being a researcher and a successful teacher," says Prado. "The goal of this center is to encourage faculty to be reflective about their teaching, and to give them tips and assistance that will make them more efficient and effective at that part of their job."

BU faculty members who would like to offer input regarding the center's programs can call Sharon Prado at 358-2488 or contact any member of the center's advisory board, listed at For more information, visit the center's Web site at


21 September 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations