Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed October 2, 1997
Contact: Kristen Lans

Brown to dedicate Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning

Brown University will mark the 10th anniversary of its Center for the Advancement of Teaching Oct. 24-25 by dedicating it in honor of the late Harriet W. Sheridan, dean of the College emeritus. Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, will speak.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- As dean of the College at Brown University, the late Harriet W. Sheridan was troubled by an irony of American higher education: Becoming a college professor requires no prior teaching experience. Shortly after her retirement as dean, Sheridan addressed that concern by founding the Center for the Advancement of College Teaching to offer practical knowledge and training for university-level teaching.

On Friday, October 24, Brown University will rename the Center and dedicate it as the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning during a 6:30 p.m. ceremony in the Salomon Center, located on The College Green. The ceremony, which also marks the 10th anniversary of the Center, will include a keynote address by Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, followed by the presentation of the first Harriet W. Sheridan Teaching Awards.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8:30 a.m. at the Salomon Center, the celebration will continue with a conference on teaching and learning in higher education. Included in the conference will be a dozen workshops and a panel discussion titled "Reflective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education."

When Sheridan began the center at the age of 62, she targeted graduate students because they are the future professoriate. The programs have since expanded to include the entire Brown teaching community, from undergraduate teaching assistants to veteran professors. Professors can receive individual teaching consultations and attend lectures and workshops on topics ranging from persuasive communication to student feedback. A teaching assistant orientation is offered in the fall to introduce that group to instruction at Brown, and a faculty teaching seminar for new and junior faculty covers such issues as lecture styles, developing a syllabus and promoting student dialogue.

Sheridan's commitment to the betterment of teaching grew from her experience as a professor at Carleton College, Northfield, Minn., and from her personal experience with a daughter who had a learning disability.

"Beginning with her understanding of her daughter's difficulty, she turned to higher education, where she determined that not only one teaching style was effective," said Rebecca S. More, associate director of the Center. "She said, `As long as you are going to do it, do it well.' "