$1 million for quality

By Stephanie Claggett

Tuition hikes do pay off for students–sometimes. The Board of Governors gave $1 million to the Students’ Union and the Graduate Students’ Association in March 2004 to improve the quality of education, with dubious results.

Approximately $25,000 was given to each faculty for scholarships, which were awarded this fall. The rest of the money went to improving teaching.

“This was one of the top concerns,” said SU Vice-President Academic Laura Schultz. “Creating a culture where teaching is valued as much as the research the professors do is important.”

The SU sought to improve the quality of teaching mainly through opening up the University Teaching Certificate Program, which was formerly only for teaching assistants, to professors from all faculties, in hopes that the professors will learn how to improve their teaching.

“At least, [professors will] reflect upon their teaching, and become more cognizant of their effect on students,” said Schultz.

The success of the program is to be evaluated at the end of the winter semester by a team of deans and administrators. Student feedback will play a minimal role.

“We couldn’t go survey students,” said Schultz. “It wouldn’t be feasible.”

Whether or not the program will be a success is debatable. Several professors declined when asked to comment on its effectiveness. Others had no knowledge of the new program. While the start doesn’t seem promising, there is still time for the program to develop.

Future plans are dependent on whatever funding the university chooses to allocate to the project. There is no guarantee that there will be a renewal of the money, but if there is it will likely be used to further the same goals.

“[Quality of education] is like tuition or accessibility: it needs continuous review,” said Schultz.

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