Vice Provost Christina Maslach Shares Her Vision for Undergraduate Education

By Susan Hagstrom
February 27, 2001

On February 20, the third Colloquium on Undergraduate Education was held by the Undergraduate Division of the College of Letters and Science. Professor Christina Maslach, the new Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, spoke to the gathering of faculty, staff and students about her vision for undergraduate education on the Berkeley campus.

"Decisions at this university depend on who's at the table," said Maslach. "This new position puts advocacy for Undergraduate Education at the highest level." New funding to support undergraduate education has come from both the Berkeley campus and the Office of the President. Maslach stated that these latter resources are to be used to maximize faculty/student interaction.

VP Maslach outlined her ideas for the newly created position but stressed to the audience that her plans are still somewhat tentative. She currently envisions three interrelated clusters of focus for her work. Following are the three categories, along with several action steps for each area:

  1. Undergraduate Education
    1. Set up an advisory group of faculty, staff, and students to identify and wrestle with broad campus-wide issues such as Reading and Composition, financial support for programs, and implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on Undergraduate Education (CUE) report.
    2. Look at issues within academic programs. Work with Dean Shun and his counterparts in the other colleges on policy issues.
    3. Integrate academic support services with academic programs. Liaison with Barbara Davis to collaborate on new initiatives that may involve the Student Learning Center, the Athletic Study Center, etc.
  2. Educational Development
    1. Bring the great research strengths of the university to bear on questions of teaching and learning. There will be two new centers reporting to Maslach: the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology and the Center for Faculty Leadership in Educational Access and Diversity.
    2. Integrate the Office of Educational Development into the work of these centers.
  3. Educational Technology
    1. Hire a Faculty Assistant 1/2 time to work with Maslach on issues of educational technology.
    2. Create an advisory group of faculty, staff, and students to consider policy issues and to evaluate new campus initiatives, in particular the E-Berkeley initiatives.
    3. Combine the Office of Media Services and ITP's program for learning management systems to form a new department, to be named Educational Technology Services. According to Maslach, educational technology should be planned at a very high level on this campus, allowing us to have fully-functioning classrooms, readily available instructional support, etc.

Maslach stated that her advisory groups will provide the opportunity to look at the big picture of how things work on the campus. She added that we need to ask a lot of questions, even "dumb questions," that we haven't asked before. The work of this new office will be an opportunity to "break set" and look anew at issues affecting undergraduate education on the Berkeley campus.

The L & S colloquia, which take place once or twice each semester, provide opportunities to learn about and discuss the overarching issues affecting undergraduate education at U C Berkeley. For more information on upcoming or past programs, contact Alix Schwartz at alix@uclink4.berkeley.edu or (510) 642-8378.

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