The Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence was established at Western Carolina University
in 1988 based on recommendations from the Chancellor's Task Force, commissioned by
Chancellor Myron L. Coulter in 1985, on Faculty Development and Evaluation. After
three years of researching teaching literature and sponsoring teaching events, the
Task Force submitted a 60-page summary report that recommended a structure for the
new center. Chancellor Coulter accepted this report in June 1988, and the Center opened
that August. The new center was located on the main floor of Hunter Library near the
University Media Center. The Task Force's Instructional Services Coordinator, Ben
Ward, became the Center's founding director. To staff the Center, the Chancellor provided
funds for three Faculty Fellows:
- Faculty Fellow for Publications
- Faculty Fellow for Programs
- Faculty Fellow for Internationalizing the Curriculum
The Myron L. Coulter Faculty Center
In 1994, after Chancellor Coulter announced his retirement, the WCU Board of Trustees
renamed the Center in his honor, designating it the Myron L. Coulter Faculty Center
for Teaching Excellence. Later that year, the University Media Center was phased out
and the Media Center's six full-time staff members merged with the Faculty Center
to provide increased support for faculty development in instructional technology.
At that time, the Center's staff affected a further name modification: The Myron L.
Coulter Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
Until his retirement in December 2001, Dr. Ben Ward served as the Center's director
and ably guided it during years of contributing to the enhancement of the teaching
& learning experience at Western. Dr. Alan Altany, previously a professor of religious
studies at Marshall University, became the new director in December, 2001.
The Center designated the academic year 2003-2004 as the "Year of the Scholarship
of Teaching & Learning (SoTL)." Under Dr. Altany's direction, Western became recognized
nationally for its SoTL work, specifically the development of Mountain Rise, an international peer-reviewed journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Faculty Learning Communities were established and the annual SoTL Faire grew and expanded
to a 2-day national event.
The Reorganization of the Coulter Faculty Center
In 2005, Provost Kyle Carter called for a study to reorganize the Center to better
serve faculty efforts to enhance student learning. In response to faculty requests,
the Coulter Faculty Center combined its resources with Educational Technologies and
the Division of Educational Outreach. Center staff began to integrate professional
development activities, instructional design, and technology support into a single
point of service in Hunter Library.
Dr. Anna McFadden moved from her position as Chair of the Department of Educational
Leadership and Foundations to lead the effort as Director of the reorganized center.
McFadden, a faculty member for 10 years at WCU, spent three months studying in-depth
the needs of faculty. The faculty's desires were clear: they wanted a seamless solution
to enhancing both their pedagogical techniques and technical abilities. In response
to this need, the Center clarified its vision, mission, and strategic direction.
In the expanded Center, faculty will find assistance in designing curricula, integrating
technology to augment student learning, using distance learning formats, training
to use technologies, and exploring the scholarship of teaching and learning. Faculty
wanting to incorporate geographic information systems, audio or video integration,
or research functions such as SPSS or SAS into their courses will find assistance
for those efforts as well.
In 2010, Dr. McFadden moved to a new position as Director of Academic Engagement and
Governance for the Division of IT. Since that time, the Coulter Faculty Commons has
been led by Dr. Laura Cruz, also an Associate Professor in the Department of History.
Under her leadership, the newly-renamed Coulter Faculty Commons has enjoyed a national
reputation for productivity, innovation, and integration.
The Faculty Commons is dedicated to the continual enrichment of the culture of teaching
and learning. It seeks to
- Promote the development of knowledge and the exchange of experiences in a responsive,
supportive, and confidential setting;
- Assist faculty with tailored teaching strategies;
- Provide leadership and support for multiple forms of scholarship;
- Support and advance the effective and appropriate use of technology in teaching and
- Serve as a centralized resource for faculty support and information.
The Faculty Commons will foster a community of teacher-scholars promoting excellence
in teaching and learning and other forms of scholarship.