President's Teaching Scholars Program

 

 

Spring 2007 Retreat

Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building, Room 104
UCDHSC Anschutz Medical Campus
Friday, Feburary 16, 2007

Scholars in attendance:

Denny Webster, J.J. Cohen, Jim Burkhart, Clayton Lewis, Tom Huber, Brian Argrow, Mitch Handelsman, Judith Stalnaker, Don Kleier, Dan Barth, Jim Palmer, Anne Costain, Michael Eisenberg, Shelby Wolf, Mimi Wesson, John Falconer and Alex Cruz. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Michael Poliakoff also attended the retreat.

I. Welcome

PTSP Director Mary Ann Shea welcomed the scholars to the retreat. She announced that UCDHSC Provost Mark Heckler was unable to attend the retreat because he was ill. However, she pointed to the reports in the Scholars' packets - "Addressing the Challenges Facing American Undergraduate Education" and "Toward a Public Universities and Colleges Voluntary System of Accountability for Undergraduate Education (VSA)" - and said Heckler has read the two reports and would like the Scholars' advice on what the articles are proposing. Shea added that Heckler is planning to join the Scholars at their fall 2007 retreat.
Shea then introduced VPAAR Poliakoff, who was attending the retreat for the first time. Shea asked Wolf to formally introduce the vice president. Wolf said she had discovered that Poliakoff is on the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence. "I was impressed that an administrator has a close association with the quality of teaching," Wolf said. "I will leave it to him to explain the connection between contact sports - his research interest -and teaching."
Poliakoff thanked Wolf and said he was pleased to be at the retreat. He added that he is grateful to the University of Colorado for trusting him to take on the important role of vice president for academic affairs and research. He said there often are suspicions between the world of the scholar and the world of teaching, and noted that the PTSP gives a "no" to that concept because it acknowledges the connection between teaching and scholarship. He said he learns more about his subject by teaching it because you "get those out-of-the- box questions that make us re-evaluate our principles." He added that he is looking forward to several productive years at CU.
Poliakoff explained that in studying Greco-Roman sports he learned that in Athens random acts of violence were not tolerated because they endangered the whole fabric of life. But at the same time, he said, the society cultivated extremely violent sports, one being a combination of boxing, wrestling and kicking. He said in response to his mid-life crisis, he got involved in Tae Kwon Do and has a second black dan in the sport. He said to earn the belt he had to break a pair of cinder blocks, and when his wife said she would not take him to the emergency room if he hurt himself trying to break the blocks, he ended going there himself the next morning. "It was only a minor fracture," he said, "and I did break the blocks."
Poliakoff concluded that he was thrilled to meet all the Scholars and to be a part of their retreat.

II. Activities of Scholars
Art in Science/Science in Art
Presentation by J.J. Cohen
Shea: Often at our retreats we review what is new in our lives or in the academy. I would like to do that in Mark Heckler's absence, and J.J. said he would describe the project he has been involved in.
Cohen: I have been working on the Art in Science/Science in Art project with Helen Macfarlane, a medical illustrator at the UCDHSC. We became more and more amazed at the quality of the research images that are being created and saw that there is a new genre of art that is using scientific principles to create art that illustrates science. So we developed the idea of an art exhibit showing the art and science created by people at CU. It would be something we could show to the outside community, to demonstrate the kind of creativity and thinking we have here. We applied for a President's Fund for the Humanities grant and the exhibit is online and at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science through May 17. The only other place that has done something like this was Princeton University. We were worried that we would not have enough submissions, but after the article by Kim Glasscock in Silver & Gold Record, we had 240 submissions flow in. We chose two shows: one of 30 images printed in large format now at the museum, and another 36 that are online, for a total of 66 images. The exhibit will be traveling to Aspen on June 1 and to all the CU campuses in the next year. (The exhibit Web site is at http://artsci.uchsc.edu.)
Cohen then showed the Scholars the 66 images projected onto a screen and pointed out the three prize-winning entries.
Palmer: I am trying to form a question about the relationship of art and science and these images. Are the images more science than art? Are they more an image you could take in the lab with a microscope?
Cohen: The x-ray crystallography, for example, is not the normal output from a microscope. The person used a software program that allowed him to manipulate his data. Whether something like that would get published with a scientific paper, I am not sure, but for me it is interesting.
Argrow: The image that is entirely code is good. The person could have done something less attractive to prove his point.
Cohen: Sometimes the images were too manipulated for the judges. One person made a fetal mouse look like CU's Ralphie.
Stalhnaker: My intellect got in the way of my enjoyment of the art. It is the dichotomy: science is the intellectual part, art is the image. I would have enjoyed walking through the gallery and not reading what the image was.
Cohen: You can do that at the exhibit. I observed that one Saturday. It was interesting to see the double takes when people read what the image was. It is fun not knowing what the image is, like the covers of Science magazine.
Cohen: We thought at first we would have separate categories for students and faculty to give the students a chance. We were totally wrong about that; two of the three winning entries were from students. We may do this again in two years.
Burkhart: I really liked this exhibit. I admire you for your energy in making it happen. How can you relate this to teaching and learning?
Cohen: For me, this is teaching the community about our school. Getting an article in The Denver Post (which was published the day of the retreat) is part of this. Other news we see is such a tiny fragment of what I think CU is about - the beautiful, clever, fun and deep things. I received lots of e-mails wanting to know more about the project. At first the administration didn't pay attention to this. I invited all of the administrators and the regents to the opening exhibit and they didn't even respond. Maybe they are the ones I am really focusing on.
Huber: We could use it to recruit students, to get students interested in science and math. We could get grants to do that.
Kleier: If I were a CU administrator, I would want to take the exhibit to Grand Junction, Lamar, etc. People would see that we call it a college of "arts and sciences" for a good reason. Being in "dental arts," if you will, I see an incredible blend of art and science. In polymer dentistry, if the material is black it limits use. Congratulations for thinking of this and for pulling it off!
Shea: Do any others have news to report?
Argrow: We have had an interesting discussion in my graduate class on ethics in engineering. I raised a question about whistleblowing and the opinion came back that in the aerospace industry, the students thought it would be OK to cheat a bit on contracts. So you could bid a contract with NASA at $5 million even if you find it will cost $2 million. You would lose the competitive edge if you did otherwise, they said. The students were saying it was OK if that is the only way to be competitive. My question was, "When does it stop? Who is going to draw the line, take a stand?" They said, "Let someone else draw the line. I want a job."
Kleier: How would the whistleblower rule apply?
Argrow: You would do a computation and report to your boss that we are bidding too high. If they don't like hearing that, you might have to quit and find another job. In any case, the discussion was quite disturbing to me.
Handelsman: The whistleblower idea is an issue at the University. For example, we don't pay copyright fees for what we copy for class. We are in a way telling the students to blow the whistle wherever they are, but not while they are at CU.
Argrow: The federal government has a right to terminate a contract if it is 20 percent overrun in costs. It came down to: we will respond to the law but we will still cheat. This was a manageable level of cheating that was acceptable to the class.
Costain: There are impacts of the whistleblower law. The impact on whistleblowers if that their lives are changed for the worse. It is empirically hard to make a judgment that whistleblowing will benefit your life.
The politics of social movements show that activists who say "stop" from outside the organization are much happier than those who complain from the inside.
Handelsman: It would be fun to set up a test in class where the students could cheat to get more points and to discuss that. Students are good at learning the rules. It's like the cartoon with bankers who say they "uphold the highest ethics the law allows".
Palmer: The movie "The Insider" tells the story of a whistleblower at CBS and is excellent.
Barth: My news is mainly administrative. My PTSP project has been to set up a major in neuroscience. And the problem is I think it may be too successful and bring in too many students, making teaching loads grow. We also are looking into an interdepartmental certificate in neuroscience lab research.
Cruz: This year I was asked if I could take over the Biology Club. The one in our department was dormant, but I was impressed by the interest of the students in the club. They took over setting up speakers, field trips, research opportunities. They are interested in finding out as much as they can in the undergraduate major. There is not much credit for that kind of service in the faculty annual report. But I suggest if you have such a club that is dormant it can be done and I am very pleased with it. Do others of you have clubs that are active? (Several hands went up.)
Palmer reported that he has been working with the Conference on World Affairs Atheneum students, 125 in all. The Atheneum has brought in several important speakers on topics such as human trafficking, New Orleans recovery and Japanese internment camps.
Eisenberg: I have been working with undergraduates as Discovery Learning apprentices. My interest is in math and science education and kids' crafts. We helped build a kaleidoscope, using the computer.
Burkhart: We had a retreat at UCCS called The New Academy. The emphasis was on the switch from teaching to learning and from research for the department to research for the community.
Huber: It also includes the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Burkhart: I ran one of the breakout sessions. At first it seemed unrelated to the speaker we heard in the morning, but as people got to sharing, there were comments about feeling isolated. One of the big pleas was to get a faculty club on campus. And there was widespread dissatisfaction from everyone about the online training we are being required to take. I have taken I don't know how many courses.
Argrow: They shut off two credit cards for my class because I didn't take the training.
Burkhart: There is a lot of dissatisfaction because it seems like the University is doing a lot of covering for its case and is asking us to do things we pay staff to do.
Huber: I was chair of a session on redefining faculty work. We saw what Iowa State has done, changing from a 40/40/20 split and giving it new names. ISU faculty sit down with their chairs and define the percentages and how they want to be evaluated. You could do 75 percent scholarship, and part of that can be the scholarship of teaching or outreach to the community. We are thinking about sending a delegation to ISU. Betsy Hoffman is there now. We could see how ISU as a state university is doing it, how they have shifted the whole concept and how it is supported from the top. It is an unbelievable shift in how faculty are evaluated.
Palmer: As a footnote, I am going to do a tenure review for a person. This person is very accomplished but we have to make a case for excellence in one area and the person is good and solid across the board. We could find a person who is excellent in one area, but which is more service to the University?
Huber: We could be redefining service and outreach. There need to be some parameters - you have to do some teaching. But it would be very clear what you have to do to get tenure. You would redo you contract as you stay longer beyond tenure, as your role changes, considering the seasons of faculty life. Faculty roles change and should change. Would people from other campuses want to go to ISU if we set up a visit?
Argrow: How do you set up the teaching load? That seems to be a fairness issue.
Burkhart: There are issues around service as chair. At UCCS we are paid $3,600 to be chair; at UCB a chair is paid 20 percent of salary up to $16,000. They have the same responsibilities, the same salary judgments to make.
Argrow: Here's another point. We are working on an unmanned vehicle. The FAA requires a single contract with the University. That seems to set up a competition among campuses. My conflict is what is my role in advancing the campuses versus advancing the system.
Burkhart: There are only two things intercampus: PTSP and faculty governance.
Poliakoff: You raise a crucial point. The campuses are autonomous; President Brown is clear on that. The exceptions come when we deal with regulatory bodies. I will make a note on this.
Cruz: The only interaction we have across the campuses is this type of meeting.
Argrow: This is some of my only contact with UCCS faculty. I saw some as having a chip on their shoulder that when people think of CU they think of Boulder. That is until I starting meeting all of you. I had to apologize for that arrogance.
Costain: President Hoffman's vision of a university without walls was a very appealing vision because our ability to interact is very limited. We are on the verge of coming out with new faculty retirement options policy. My office organized it and I want to hold open forums on the campuses. I was told no because the campuses are autonomous and we could train someone to do the presentations. It's a good thing to say let's empower the campuses and allow them to set goals and achieve their goals. But what is the hope to extend the network of colleagues and friends across the system?
Burkhart: Silver & Gold Record has been excellent in getting the news of the campuses out to all of us.

III. Planning to Plan
Facilitators: Michael Eisenberg and Clayton Lewis
Lewis: I was reminded of a quote from Don Kleier: "Fail to plan; plan to fail." So that is what we are going to do today. The framework is 40 minutes for breakout groups and 20 minutes back together. We are asking that you discuss what the PTSP should do over the next three years. I cannot express the point too much that these are just examples of challenges, but I would say the PTSP is getting older, and we need to bring in more resources.
The Scholars divided into breakout groups and then came back together for reports.
Cohen: Our group thought the PTSP had something to do with the president, that we are supposed to be advisory to the president in an active way. But where is the president? Where is our connection to the president? Is it an issue of who is the president or a job title issue? Are there other receptive administrators we could work with? We could offer the PTSP as an informal, advisory group to the administration. We also discussed how to recruit more Teaching Scholars. Applications are declining. Do people see the nomination process as arduous? There are faculty in the School of Medicine who may not know what a teaching philosophy is as the PTSP nomination calls for.
Burkhart: Our group also agreed that the current president has not taken an active role with the PTSP, not attended the retreats. We also talked about whether there should be a process of dismissal from the PTSP guild, that we should contact the "no shows" who don't come to the retreat. Maybe we could invite administrators to give a teaching talk or speak on some problem facing the University and then they would ask the Scholars for help with it. They would get immediate feedback, and they would know the topic in advance and would be prepared. That might energize the retreats.
Wesson: Our group discussed how to recruit Scholars and bring in more diversity, not just younger people but those from different disciplines. We wondered if the nomination process is onerous and if people worry about how they would compile a dossier. Maybe the recruitment committee needs to put a bug in a dean's ear, for example. There is so much effort to nominate and disappointment if you are not chosen. We also thought of topics for the retreats, such as research about teaching and its efficacy. Bring in speakers tied to the Teaching and Learning Collaborative.
The summary of issues for the PTSP in the next three years were:

-Improve the connection with the president as advisors to the president and/or other receptive administrators.
-Interact with administrators at the retreat on their issues of concern.
-Get Teaching Scholars placed on search committees.
-Recruit more Teaching Scholars by considering the nomination process and the expectations for having received prior awards.
-Bring in more speakers on topics of research and teaching.
-Work to increase attendance at the retreats. Consider dismissal from the guild. Contact the no shows.

Palmer: I have been going to the retreats for a long time and I am never disappointed. There is not something wrong with the retreats; there is something wrong with so many no shows. The retreats have been exciting, interesting, rewarding, period.
Argrow: We need some data on how people feel about the retreats.
Shea: I have certainly thought about the retreats and considered the different seasons of faculty life. If one moves into a chair or deanship, that puts demands on your time. Palmer: The people who are here today are very busy and they are here.
Barth: If top administrators were here at the retreats and we were advisory to them, I think attendance would skyrocket.
Cohen: Some think being made a Teaching Scholar is the end of a process; for others it's a beginning. It is a terrible waste of time for someone to pick up their picture when they are named and leave.
Lewis: As your moderator on this, I am excited. How do we carry these ideas forward?
Burkhart: I have been on the retreat planning committee, all of us have. This calls for a whole new level of involvement. It involves calling people and contacting them about why they don't come.
Wolf: Maybe if we could each be assigned one person to call.
Huber: I would like to ask Shelby and Michael, the two newest Scholars, were you told about the expectations of being a Scholar?
Wolf: Not really. You were all so nice to me. But even if I am in the School of Education, there is no time to talk about teaching and I saw being a Scholar as that opportunity.
Eisenberg: I liked that it would be an ongoing community that would get together and work together.
Handelsman: Maybe we should ask all nominees what they expect.
Eisenberg: There might be a distinct group of Scholars who are no shows. It would be important to see if this were so.
Palmer: The nomination form asks if you understand this will involve a commitment of time.
Argrow: Maybe we could have an apprenticeship process for the President's Teaching Scholars.
Cohen: That's a good idea.
Burkhart: We need to come up with a questionnaire that can be answered anonymously by all of the Scholars.
Lewis asks for volunteers to be on several working groups:

-Relations with the administration and visiting Iowa State University: Lewis, Palmer, Barth, Huber, Burkhart
-Recruitment of President's Teaching Scholars: Barth, Costain
-Retreats and no show data: Wesson, Stahlnaker, Handelsman, Argrow
-Fall retreat: Wesson, Eisenberg, Falconer

Shea: The first call for nominations to the PTSP is in Silver & Gold Record. It will be for a February 2008 designation. Is it too soon to alter it?
Falconer: It makes sense to do that if we are working on changing it now.

IV. Teaching Scholar Teaching
The Interactions of Social Parasites with Their Hosts
Alex Cruz, Professor of ecology and evolutionary Biology at CU-Boulder
Cruz: My research combines ecology, behavior and evolution. This presentation would be part of my Introduction to Ecology class. It is an upper-level, critical-thinking course. We talk about island biology, since everything can be considered an island in one form or another. My interest is in parasites. We talk about interactions and one of the most important is parasitism. We all have parasites. It is estimated that 90 percent of the animal species are parasites.
Cruz presented a series of examples of parasites, including bacteria and tapeworms.
Cruz: These parasites use you as a host but they eventually have to get out and find a new host. The strategy of a parasite is to produce as many individuals as possible. It is important to appreciate how these parasitic system have co-evolved. Some parasites are dependent on the social structure of other organisms. For example parasitic wasps take advantage of the reproductive systems of other insects, and certain birds do not make their own nest but deposit their eggs in the nests of host species. The host bird incubates the parasite's eggs and raises the young as if they were their own, even though raising a parasite may be detrimental to the host's own reproductive success.
Cruz showed a film illustrating several avian brood parasites, such as the cuckoo and the brownheaded cowbird.
Cruz: The cuckoo lays eggs in the warbler's nest, the egg hatches early and the young cuckoo eats the other eggs. The warbler feeds the young cuckoo bird because it can imitate the warbler chick. The cuckoo takes over the entire reproductive process of the bird. That is where the expression "cuckold" comes from. However, there are 9,700 species of birds and only 1 percent are parasitic.
Visualize that you are a brood parasite. What are the adaptations you would have?
The Scholars list egg mimicry, synchronized timing of when eggs hatch, chicks that imitate the host nestling, parasites ceasing to make their own nests, removal of the host eggs, well-developed begging behavior by chicks, thicker egg shells, and high egg production.
Cruz: It's an evolutionary arms race for the host to outdo the parasite.
Huber: How is over-parasitism prevented without endangering the host species that the parasite depends on?
Cruz: In Colorado, the cowbird parasitizes more than 200 species. In the interim, it can be detrimental to the parasite host because we have fragmented the ecology and endangered some species.
Cruz: What are the adaptations against brood parasitism?
The Scholars list: stay near the nest, have a brood partner, defend the nest, camouflage the nest by making the entrance small, egg rejection behavior, desert the nest and make multiple-layered nests.
Cruz: Some parasites are specialists, some are generalists. There is a subspecies of cuckoo that evolved to focus on one particular host.
He explained that he has conducted research in the Dominican Republic on a avian cuckoo brood parasite, working with students there to study the Village Weaver. He showed a video of the noisy bird nests and the host birds rejections of parasites eggs. He said over time he has measured an increase in egg rejection behavior as the cuckoo was introduced there.
Cruz: I could say they evolved but it could be that the behavior was present but the Weavers were just not using it. There is always the question of nature versus nurture.
Cruz also described a study of cuckoo catfish, which are the only known parasitic brood fish and are found in Lake Tanganyika in Africa. The fish are mouth brooders.
Cruz: This was an interesting system in the lab. We could test for more variables than in the field. In Lake Tanganyika, which is 100 miles long, 99 percent of the species are endemic to that lake. My former student, Janelle Knox, who is studying at Oxford, worked on this study. We take eggs out of the mouth and incubate them in a jar. The host fish eggs took 21 days to incubate compared to five days for the catfish. All of the slides I am showing were taken by undergraduates in my class.
Eisenberg: It is surprising there is only one parasitic fish. It seems like a viable strategy.
Cruz: It is surprising and they are only in this lake. They could take advantage of other systems; I am not sure why it hasn't evolved elsewhere.
We found these adaptations: more robust oral development (at day five, the catfish are basically all jaws) and early bone dentification development.
In the future we will look at the genes involved in dentification and see if the host species have evolved adaptations against the parasites. I would like to acknowledge all of my students who play such important roles in these studies.
Costain: Is there an optimal parasite that doesn't wipe out its own species or kill its host?
Cruz: Some come to co-exist and the parasitic relationship becomes mutual. Bacteria are an example. We thought we had wiped some out but they are making a comeback.
Wesson: Are humans parasitic on other species?
Cruz: In our use of resources, for example.
Lewis: I have a teaching question. You have a lot of success working with undergraduates. What practices make that work?
Cruz: Being open, getting information to them right away about research opportunities. I tell them there is something they can help with and tell them about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. I also get graduate students involved with undergrads as fast as possible. In classes, I always try to introduce the students I am working with and show how they contribute to my work. It is being open, willing to work with them. It also takes some one-on-one, through e-mails, etc.
Eisenberg: How do you get them to do field work?
Cruz: Students come with a great amount of knowledge about computers and the Web, but they lack real-world knowledge. I stress interpersonal skills, research experience. Publishing something is important.
Barth: Do you publish your undergraduates' papers?
Cruz: Yes, Janelle is the second author on a paper; another student is the first author. The problem for undergraduates is that they take so many classes. They may start a project and have to move on.
Lewis: Do you have weekly group meetings, etc?
Cruz: Both one-on-one sessions and groups. They present their work in an undergrad symposium. I encourage students to attend professional meetings and present their papers. It involves a lot of time and energy sometimes.
I like to start with sophomores and have them work toward an honor's thesis. We connect through the Biology Club.
Kleier: Who writes the papers?
Cruz: With Janelle, I wrote the paper and she had the data. With the other student, she wrote the paper. I have had to work with students on their writing skills, and show them how to write a paper for publication.

V. Adjournment
Shea thanked Cruz for his presentation and all of the Scholars who volunteered to be on committees. She acknowledged the PTSP student assistants who helped prepare for the retreat. Burkhart said it was nice to be in such a good facility and he thanked Shea for all of her great work.
The fall retreat will be held on Nov.10-11 in Estes Park.