Ohio State names inaugural director of Institute for Teaching and Learning

New university initiative will foster innovative approaches to teaching

By: Emily Caldwell

Published on July 28, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The University Institute for Teaching and Learning will launch at The Ohio State University next month under the leadership of Kay Halasek, associate professor of English, who has been appointed the inaugural director of the center.

The institute is designed to help instructors share successful teaching techniques and lead to increased adoption of modern methods that enhance student learning, academic leaders say. It also aligns with President Michael V. Drake’s focus on increasing the value of an Ohio State education.

University Senate approved the University Institute for Teaching and Learning in April, following a year of advisory committee work by faculty, staff and students that shaped a proposal first imagined during a Teaching and Learning Summit in spring 2015.

“Educational excellence contributes directly to access and affordability,” Drake said. “This campus-wide institute will enhance support for excellent teaching, expand teaching and learning scholarship, and apply student-centered analytics to improve learning outcomes.

“It’s our goal to be consistently ranked among the world’s leaders in teaching and learning.”

This virtual institute will coordinate and serve as the front-door access to teaching activities across the university, all directed at improving the student learning experience. Four key areas of focus include: instructional development support; research to measure the effectiveness of teaching outcomes; policy development concerning faculty roles, review and rewards; and communication to share success stories and learn from other institutions.

The center’s comprehensive approach is intended to support instructors as they continue to develop and refine plans for innovative teaching that suit their style and serve their students best. Connecting with the human resource of experienced and successful teachers will be an important part of “Faculty FIT,” a pilot mentorship program for new faculty that will launch in August.

Halasek noted that the institute has already begun partnering with numerous offices and programs on campus, including University Libraries, the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, and the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

“I was drawn to the institute because I embrace its mission to bring together faculty of all ranks and categories from across the university with the expressed purpose of enhancing teaching and learning,” she said. “Through thoughtful and creative discussion, innovative pedagogies and collaborative research, the institute is poised to contribute meaningfully to faculty engagement in teaching and, by extension, students’ learning experiences.”

Halasek is currently director of Second-Level Writing in the Department of English. She studies rhetorical theory, composition theory, history and pedagogy, and is co-editor of Landmark Essays on Basic Writing and the author of A Pedagogy of Possibility. At the University Institute for Teaching and Learning, she will be joined by two faculty fellows: Mary Jo Fresch, professor emeritus of early and middle childhood education on the Marion campus, and Maria Pruchnicki, associate professor-clinical in the College of Pharmacy.

Proceeds from a $10 million endowment from Nike will fund the institute. The university agreement with Nike announced in January created a more comprehensive partnership that Drake described at the time as “a win for all Ohio State students.”

The institute’s launch in August also represents a win for the entire university, said Bruce McPheron, executive vice president and provost.

“At least 200 university members participated in dialogue and planning to create the vision for a comprehensive center of this kind,” he said. “With that kind of commitment and participation in the earliest stages, this institute is well-positioned to fulfill its mission to enhance and raise the visibility of advancements in Ohio State’s ongoing and future teaching and learning activities.”


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Emily Caldwell
614-292-8152 | Email

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