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A Brief History of the TCNJ Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

For the past three decades, there has been widespread interest in providing support for the teaching and learning mission of The College of New Jersey. During the mid-1980s when this institution was still known as Trenton State College, a group of faculty members dedicated to enhancing teaching and learning played a key role in developing the Center for Instructional Enhancement (CIE), which began providing services in 1988. The CIE organized brown bag lunch discussions, special symposia featuring guest speakers, and a conference on teaching and learning issues. The CIE also published a newsletter on the latest developments pertaining to instruction, and it operated a library of pertinent resources.

In 1991, funding difficulties resulted in the closure of the CIE. Nevertheless, proponents of teaching and learning initiatives continued to push for the creation of a new center, which resulted in a growing, campus-wide movement to enhance instruction and learning at the college during the mid-to-late 2000s. In May 2006, the Task Force on the Teacher-Scholar Model recommended the formation of a center dedicated to fostering teaching and learning. In 2007, the Senate/CFA Committee on Teaching Excellence and the Provost’s Committee on the Support of Scholarship echoed this recommendation. In response to these faculty requests, in Fall 2007 interim Provost Beth Paul established the Ad Hoc Committee on the Teaching/Learning Initiative. This Committee was charged with making recommendations to strengthen the support of teacher-scholars in a manner that would meet our community’s needs and help us engage in and offer powerful learning experiences. The Committee consisted of representatives from six schools of the college, Residential Life, the Library, and Instructional Technology who shared an interest in integrating and strengthening campus resources in support of teaching and learning. Over the course of the 2007 – 2008 academic year, the Committee completed an in-depth study of the teaching and learning culture at TCNJ and the best practices of other institutions. In its final report,which was issued in May 2008, the Committee recommended the establishment of a Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the creation of a “planning council,” primarily comprised of faculty, to provide advice and support to the Director of the Center.

In a memorandum dated September 29, 2008, Provost Carol Bresnahan asked the Steering Committee to consider adding a Teaching and Learning Program Council (TLPC) to the governance structure. This recommendation was moved through the governance process successfully, and the TLPC and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning were formed and the new center began operating in Fall 2009 with Vice Provost Mark Kiselica serving as the center’s director.