President's Teaching Scholars Program


Fall 2004 Retreat Report

President’s Teaching Scholars as “Awakeners,” Students as “Awakened”
November 20–21, 2004

Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, Colorado

I. Introduction

Mary Ann Shea welcomed the retreat participants and introduced President Betsy Hoffman, who commented that the Scholars’ fall retreat is one of her favorite weekends of the year. She said she was looking forward to talking about the events of the past year with the Scholars, including the issue of enterprise status for the University. She said she expected frank questions from the group.

Shea then asked the participants to introduce themselves and add any news they would like to report.

Gene Abrams said for the first time this year he has had a post-doctoral student, a man from Spain, and that has been an interesting experience intellectually and politically.

Anne Costain said that as a faculty member in political science and as an administrator dealing with sexual harassment issues at the University she has felt like neither of her CU homes has been secure from controversy this past year.

Don Kleier commented that at his campus there are exciting times with a new dentistry dean, a new building going up, a new campus being developed at Fitzsimons and a new chancellor to be chosen.

Jim Palmer said teaching film studies and directing the Conference on World Affairs are now his major occupations.

Dan Barth said he is teaching a full load this fall to be able to take a sabbatical next year and that it is great to be one of the newest Teaching Scholars.

Clayton Lewis said he is having his most challenging teaching semester of his career at CU.

Harvey Segur said that last year he wrote a “gigantic” grant proposal, which he ended up having to rewrite. One consequence of that, he said, was that the effort was a lot about teaching because the proposal involved teaching math to different student groups.

Glenn Morris said that she will be facilitating a panel on moral leadership in times of crisis for the retreat and that it is great to be back after missing several retreats.

Ed Rivers commented that he was among the first group of Teaching Scholars selected and that he, too, is glad to be able to attend the retreats again after a hiatus. He said that in the first year of the program, the scholars were scratching their heads about how to recognize the group through a salary raise. He said he met with former Regent Lynn Ellins, who helped gain Board of Regents approval for that, and Rivers said he wanted to acknowledge Shea for her efforts for the Scholars as well.

Judy Stahlnaker said that on her way to the retreat she and her husband had a conversation about what makes a good teacher. They agreed that what sets the Teaching Scholars apart is what they do outside the classroom versus what they do in the classroom. For example, she said she recently phoned a student to give him encouragement that he will get his degree and be a great engineer.

Jim Symons said that over the past year he team-taught a course on Elizabeth I with Marjorie McIntosh of history, Katherine Eggert of English, and Jeremy Smith of music at CU-Boulder. He said it was a challenge to teach a course at the senior level knowing that lower-division students would be in the class. He added (to laughter by the group) that one student asked if the course, the Age of Elizabeth, was about President Hoffman.

Klaus Timmerhaus said that even though he is one of the oldest Scholars and is now retired, being retired does not mean one is finished with education. He said he is currently helping to organize a 2005 conference for engineering graduates from the past 50 years.

Mike Shull said he is no longer department chair and is back to thinking about the first galaxies and the first stars and trying to save the Hubble telescope.

Jim Curry said that he has an advantage over the others in the room, because he knows that virtually everyone around the table does mathematics in some form or another, and therefore “It is great to be your chairman.”

Mimi Wesson said she is not teaching this semester and instead is working under a fellowship from the Center for Arts and Humanities. She said she also now lives not far from Estes Park on a llama ranch. She added that she always looks forward to this occasion and she cited several of the Scholars who have had an impact on her and her family recently, in particular Palmer, Lewis, Jim Burkhart (who suggested that she work with the University Press of Colorado in publishing her new novel Chilling Effect), and Dennis Van Gerven (who gave her advice for a project she is working on about a 19th century true crime involving dead bodies that must be exhumed and identified.)

Don Warrick said he is director of teaching development at UCCS and a member of the campus’s team on “Inventing the Future.” He said he also created a new MBA program with a new look and that 180 people showed up to express their interest in the program.

Mike Cummings said he was reminded about when he started out at CU, that during the first course he taught at UCD an undergraduate student asked him if he was just out of graduate school and if he wanted advice. The student said Cummings e talked in a monotone and assigned too much work. “So that is my major contribution to teaching,” Cummings said. He added that he is also working on a New Directions Program for people who can’t take courses during the week, with all theory applied to local community needs.

Denny Webster said she is finally out of administration and had had to miss several retreats. She said she has been teaching under many formats to baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. level students.

Other Scholars in attendance were Bill Briggs, Fred Coolidge, Mike Grant, Tom Huber, Laura Goodwin, Carl Wieman, Ron Melicher, Dennis Van Gerven and Bob Averbach. (Averbach told Shea when he arrived that he had “butterflies” about being late but realized as he walked in that he was “home.”)

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Jack Burns, his wife Kathleen Burns of UCB business, and Brian Binger, President Hoffman’s husband, also attended the retreat.

Shea introduced Susan Barney Jones, editor of Silver & Gold Record, who is the scribe for the retreat. Shea asked Jones to read a quote from the Edith Wharton’s memoir, A Backward Glance, which refers to teachers as “awakeners.” Jones said that Wharton did not have a formal education but was a member of a circle of intellectuals, including Charles Norton, with whom she discussed history, literature, politics and other matters.

“Charles Norton of course led an active life of letters in conjunction with this teaching as Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard; but his animating influence on my generation in America was exerted through what he himself was, and what he made his pupils see and feel with him. Among those of my intimate friends who came under Norton’s influence at Harvard there was none who did not regard the encounter as a turning point in his own growth. Norton was supremely gifted as an awakener, and no thoughtful mind can recall without a thrill the notes of the first voice which has called it out of its morning dream.” (Edith Wharton, ABackward Glance, 1934)

Shea said UCDHSC Chancellor James Shore was scheduled to be at the retreat but was not able to attend because of illness. She noted that the Scholars also want to celebrate Wieman’s selection as national Carnegie/CASE Professor of the Year.

She said she hoped that the retreat would allow the Scholars to find common ground, to deepen their sense of community to advance teaching and learning, and to foster care and compassion with and for each other, and thereby build the strength of character at the University of Colorado.

She said in the evaluations for the retreats, the Scholars have said they want to spend more time with each other, and therefore more breaks had been built into the schedule. She encouraged the group to spend more time talking about teaching and learning.