Wednesday, January 19, 2011

University Supports and Budget Cuts

As many of my readers know, I worked with the Center for Teaching and Learning at both the University of Minnesota and our sister system, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Today, I received a shocking letter from the Director of Faculty Development: the CTL is closing, systemwide.

This decision is significant because it was through CTL that I conducted seminars for faculty on how to meet the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders and other cognitive special needs. The closure means less faculty development, less awareness, and an increased likelihood that students with ASDs will struggle in the university settings.

I am already an underemployed Ph.D., with a unique specialization in autism and language instruction. My Ph.D. also includes "Rhetoric" in its title. Well, it is time for some persuasive rhetoric from educators, parents, and advocates. If we do not explain that not-training faculty members will eventually increase the costs to society of supporting individuals with ASDs, we will lose more programs that focus on staff development.

Here is the letter I received. The CTL closes in less than two weeks. I'm stunned.
Dear Colleagues:

In follow-up to my September, 2010 memo about changes at the Center for Teaching and Learning, I forward the attached letter from Interim Vice Chancellor Scott Olson announcing the closure of the Center, the majority of its programs, and its website, http://www.ctl.mnscu.edu, on January 31.

As I imagine so many of you will, I feel a mixture of sadness and pride when thinking about this loss. The pride comes in having worked with dozens of talented faculty and staff here in the Center, and in knowing that each year since 1998 more than 4,000 faculty across the state have both benefited from and contributed to CTL. You’ve presented at and attended CTL conferences, managed CTL grants, engaged as lifelong learners in CTL workshops, webinars, and forums. More than 300 of you have served your campus colleagues as CTL Campus Leaders. I know from our analytics that the CTL website will be greatly missed, but we will let you know where to find links to some of its resources on other Office of the Chancellor websites.

This closure is significant, but at almost all of our campuses, faculty and students are dealing with the painful impact of academic program closures. We must respond with creativity and vision. I look forward to working with all who have an ongoing interest in teaching, learning, and the work of faculty to imagine and create a balanced set of campus-based (and, if needed, system-level) services for faculty professional development.

I send deepest thanks for all you’ve done for and with your colleagues through CTL.

L. M.
System Director for Faculty Development
Minnesota State Colleges & Universities
Center for Teaching & Learning

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