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Welcoming a president

What does the University have in store for Teresa Sullivan

Although Teresa A. Sullivan has been in office since August, the University community will wait until April 15 to officially inaugurate her as the University's eighth president. The inauguration will include a five-day, community-wide celebration, inviting students, faculty and staff to gather at the Lawn and ground themselves in the founding values of the University while looking forward to the mission foreseen by the institution's newest leader.

A week-long celebration\nIn addition to the actual ceremony, University officials also have planned a week of events in honor of the inauguration.

More than a month before the celebration begins, University students and educators have the opportunity to enter the Pan-University Research Poster Competition, which was designed for faculty, post-doctoral students, graduate students and undergraduate students to "highlight high-impact and innovative growth areas for UVa research," according to the University website. The content will span across seven different academic disciplines.

"The idea was to try and highlight some of the scholarship of the University and showcase its top research projects," said Cheryl Wagner, executive coordinator to the vice president for research.\nSubmissions are due by March 1 and will become part of an online exhibit. Thirty-five finalists - five selected from each of the seven academic categories - will be eligible for one of seven $500 prizes. Their work will be on display throughout the first five days of inauguration celebrations, beginning April 11.

In an effort to improve upon the University's task of teaching, research and public service, officials also have planned an academic symposium on April 14, which aims to engage all members of the community in discussion centered around the theme of "Using Evidence to Improve Teaching and Learning in Higher Education."

Lee S. Shulman, renowned educational researcher and current president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, will begin the symposium as keynote speaker. The intent of this forum, developed by Sullivan, is to bring together students and faculty to present innovative approaches to improving teaching and learning.

Sullivan spoke with Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education and chair of the Committee on the Inaugural Academic Conference, about ways in which evidence from observations of teaching and assessment of student learning could be used to improve the quality of teaching.

"We hope that this symposium showcases the University's commitment both to teaching and to research and demonstrates our leadership in this area," Pianta said.

About 60 presentations, led by more than 120 faculty members, will cover topics such as teaching with technology, assessment of student learning, using data to improve teaching quality, coursework innovations, teaching about difference and diversity and reaching beyond the walls of the University, among others.

"It is a very rich range of topics and presentations," Pianta said. "We have organized the conference into sessions in which a diverse set of schools and faculty are included in order to maximize the cross-fertilization and sharing of ideas."

Students also were invited to submit proposals on the use of studies in the advancement of higher education, and about a half-dozen presentations will be student-led.

"We plan to build upon the symposium presentations to continue sharing different methods for teaching, and how to improve it," Pianta said. "We expect a number of new ideas and novel approaches to flow from the day and the follow-up."


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