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Loyola Certificate Program Aims to Prepare Future Community College Faculty
CHICAGO, February 25, 2004 In Chicago, one out of every two students is enrolled in a community college; one in four are persons of color, and one in two are first-generation college students. Statistics from the League for Innovation in the Community College also reveal that over the next five to 10 years, community colleges in Illinois will retire more than half of their tenured faculty members, reflecting a similar national trend.
Anticipating the growing need for new community college faculty and recognizing the role that well-prepared teachers can play in enhancing the quality of student learning, Loyola University Chicago and the City Colleges of Chicago recently partnered to create the Community College Learning and Teaching (CCLT) program.
“What we have is a collection of students who are trying to do something positive with their lives,” says Jennifer Grant Haworth, director of Loyola’s Community College Learning and Teaching (CCLT) program.
During the spring of 2001, Haworth was awarded a $330,000 grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education to develop and implement the nine-credit graduate-certificate program. Since then, more than 30 students have participated.
One of the first of its kind in the nation, Loyola’s CCLT program is designed to prepare Loyola graduate students and newly hired, tenure-track faculty in the City Colleges of Chicago for faculty positions in two-year colleges. Participants range from those who are in their first year of teaching up to those who have been teaching for 25 years. Nationally, community colleges enroll 44 percent of all undergraduate students and employ one out of every three faculty members.
“There is a deep need for well-prepared teachers for our nation’s community colleges,” Haworth said. “This is really an innovative program. It’s cutting edge.”
The certificate program, which was originally a partnership between Loyola and Harold Washington College, is now open to all community colleges. So far, the program has also drawn participants from Wright College, Malcolm X College, Moraine Valley Community College, Harper College and Prairie View State College.
“CCLT has clearly embedded in the Harold Washington College (HWC) faculty the concept of the learner-centered classroom,” said Nancy DeSombre, past president of Harold Washington College. DeSombre, who dedicated 42 years to the City Colleges of Chicago System, said HWC students are not homogenous learners and thus need a variety of learning-centered teaching techniques. “CCLT is offering program participants those techniques, a practicum using them, and assessment tools to measure their efficacy,” she said. “Other faculty who have focused on courses in their discipline for professional development also see the benefit of furthering their knowledge in how they teach.
“Personally, I see the enthusiasm of the CCLT participants not only for their own teaching and professional development through the program but also as they endorse the benefits of CCLT to their colleagues here at HWC and throughout the city college district.”
Last year, Loyola’s CCLT program was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2003 Bellwether Award recognizing outstanding and innovative college programs in the 21st century.
For the participants of the certificate program, the course has enriched and revitalized their interest in teaching, has provided them with a peer group of educators to share their teaching experiences as well as a strong support network.
Paul Urbanick, who has taught at HWC for 25 years and is a mentor for the certificate program, said the program has given him the opportunity to give back to others. “That’s great for me, since I haven’t had a new faculty member for a few years with whom I’ve been able to do this. The other part of this program that is so important is that most of us didn’t learn how to teach. It was all trial and error. This program is trying to correct that.”
Urbanick added that participants in the program are from different institutions, different disciplines, different backgrounds, and bring a rich dialogue to the table. “I’ve noticed that the students I mentor now talk about what they are doing in their classes before they do it. They are also now beginning to question, ‘Why have I done it that way?'”
John Metoyer, an untenured English and fine arts instructor at Harold Washington College expected the program to be a “how-to” course, consisting of a series of lectures and articles explaining why his teaching methods were wrong. “Thankfully, those expectations were not met, and the program turned out to be a positive agent of change in regards to my teaching,” he said.
“I think more about my students, the value of their input as learners, and the effectiveness of my teaching methods,” Metoyer continued. “More importantly, I’m now more willing to adjust or completely change the direction of pre-planned lessons if I see that what I am doing is not beneficial to the learning process.”
For Haworth, seeing the interest and enthusiasm of the students has been well worth the effort. “This partnership has been rich and productive,” she said. “I strongly believe the CCLT program is congruent with the university mission. This partnership fits in with Loyola’s and the School of Education’s mission of working with urban communities to share our gifts and combine them to help others go forth and set the world on fire.”
About Loyola University Chicago
Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is among the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities” in its annual publications. For more information, please visit our web site at www.luc.edu.