What We Offer
As a resource curator, campus connector, and college community-builder, the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) is here to support all SUNY Plattsburgh faculty members and to help every instructor facilitate student success during this uniquely challenging time for teaching and learning in higher education. Each academic year, we offer three to four teaching workshops, a limited number of individual consultations and facilitate two faculty learning communities. We also curate a wide range of teaching resources and maintain faculty discussion forums, accessible through our Moodle site. Additionally, the CTE works collaboratively with the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit to provide support for faculty who wish to increase their pedagogical skill in blended or online learning environments.
Currently we are a center-of-one with a part-time administrative assistant. Our 1/3-time director maintains a concurrent teaching position in a SUNY Plattsburgh academic department. One semester per year, the Ethics Institute Pedagogy Fellow works in conjunction with the CTE to share their scholarship of teaching and learning with the Plattsburgh community. The CTE also regularly collaborates with other campus offices, such as Student Support Services and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to create faculty development opportunities at Plattsburgh.
When resources are stretched thin and many things about the future are uncertain, it’s essential that we work together to build a Plattsburgh pedagogical community of practice where instructors can swap strategies, debate best practices and support each other as we navigate this incredibly complex moment for educators.
Who We Are
Jessamyn Neuhaus, Interim Director 2020–2021
Jessamyn Neuhaus is a professor of U.S. history and popular culture at SUNY Plattsburgh and has been an a teacher in higher education for over 20 years. She is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and author of Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press). In addition to two historical monographs, Jessamyn has published pedagogical, historical and cultural studies research in numerous anthologies and journals and regularly gives public presentations and workshops on teaching. An advocate for scholarship of teaching and learning that celebrates infinite diversity in infinite combinations, Jessamyn’s mission as an educational developer is to help faculty nerd out about teaching and to use their big smart brains for increasing pedagogical self-efficacy. Visit her website geekypedagogy.com and find her on Twitter @GeekyPedagogy.
Rich Spindler, Ethics Institute Pedagogy Fellow, Fall 2020
Rich Spindler is assistant professor of mathematics at SUNY Plattsburgh. Before arriving at Plattsburgh, Rich taught at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Online, Bemidji State University, Vermont Common School and in summer gifted/talented programs. He describes his pedagogical approach as “promoting active learning environments for students (instead of lectures) both in and out of the classroom. Not only is this supported in the education research as being the most effective for learning, but it is more fun! Students work together in teams on activities and, when possible, on projects that illustrate how mathematics is often used.” As the 2020 Ethics Institute Pedagogy Fellow, Rich is studying ethical aspects of mathematics pedagogy. He writes: “The ethical connections to and implications from mathematics does not appear to be well known or appreciated, at least in the mathematics community. My goal in this project is to study the ethics of teaching mathematics and the ethical dimensions of mathematics in general. Regarding the ethics of teaching mathematics, I would like to start a discussion about the benefits and potential harms of mathematical teaching.”
The creation of the SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Teaching Excellence began with increasing awareness on the campus that teaching excellence was a distinctive commitment of the college as well as an area of recognized skill. In 2004, then Provost Bob Golden championed the effort to put that awareness into action. The Center for Teaching Effectiveness was established in fall 2004 with two part-time volunteer co-directors, Distinguished Teaching Professors Doug Skopp and Ken Adams. During their tenure they helped collect survey data on teaching, ran small seminars and gave presentations about excellent teaching. In spring 2007, a position was allocated to direct the center and Dr. Becky Kasper was appointed to the role.
Upon assuming leadership of the CTE in July 2007, Dr. Kasper undertook a number of actions that developed the campus presence of the center, including changing the name of the center to the Center for Teaching Excellence to highlight excellence as a communal aspiration of the faculty; redesigning and expanding the existing CTE website; providing consulting services for faculty, staff and departments; implementing mechanisms for gathering constituent input including the establishment of a CTE Task Force and Advisory Board; offering workshops and seminars and sponsoring several Faculty Learning Communities; and working with faculty to integrate institutional needs for assessment data into teaching. In subsequent years, the CTE continued to refine its previous activities and initiate additional activities including the college's first Conference on Teaching and Learning; the Student Committee on Teaching Excellence and Teacher of the Month Award; and an online journal of scholarship and teaching titled The Common Good.
In Spring 2014, CTE staffing increased to include a full-time office assistant and an assistant director, Dr. Michael Murphy, who served from 2015 to 2017. Because of budget shortfalls throughout the SUNY system, his position could not be replaced and the CTE’s office support staff was reduced to part time. Even in these constrained circumstances, Dr. Kasper continued to provide teaching support for faculty with class visits, individual consultations and Faculty Learning Communities. She also continued to originate educational development programming, working with the faculty teaching fellow to offer resources via the CTE’s website and help faculty meet the challenges of teaching Generation Z and iGen. In addition, Dr. Kasper worked for several years with other SUNY system leaders on the pedagogically innovative “Common Problems” project. In the spring of 2019, Dr. Kasper passed away suddenly after a fall at home. Her death was a sad loss to the entire Plattsburgh community but Dr. Kasper left behind a strong legacy of steadfast advocacy for teaching excellence and student success at Plattsburgh.
In the fall of 2019, at the invitation of Dr. Jonathan Slater, director of the Ethics Institute, a new physical location for the CTE was established in the Ethics Institute suite of offices in historic Hawkins Hall. Dr. Jessamyn Neuhaus, a previous faculty fellow for many years, was appointed spring 2020 faculty fellow and then, in May 2020, interim director. Under her leadership, the CTE has worked to meet the unprecedented challenges facing educators in the pandemic and post-pandemic era including creating new collaborative programming with the SUNY Plattsburgh Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, facilitating “Teaching Today” roundtable discussions and curating an extensive collection of pedagogical resources for faculty on the new CTE Moodle site.