Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Apr. 03, 1998

Faculty conference

Excellence is a collective effort

by Anne Dolan

An "Education I" university recognizes the complexity of teaching and taps into the strengths of individuals for a broader "scope of commitment," according to William Bondeson, the keynote speaker at the 1998 Faculty Conference, held March 27-28 at Grinnell College.

While it remains a common source of anxiety among faculty members, no individual should have to "do it all," he said.

Bondeson is a member of the philosophy, family and community medicine, and nursing faculties at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He also is a co-founder of the Wakonse program, which he described as "a sort of subversive" effort to elevate the status of teaching in higher education.

Discussion at the conference focused on whether Iowa State is an "Education I" university, a play on the "Research I" status awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Faculty excel at different tasks related to teaching, including setting up meaningful lab assignments, preparing great study guides, taking time and care in student advising or presenting dynamic lectures, Bondeson said. The expectation shouldn't be that all faculty do all tasks equally well or even that all faculty focus on teaching. However, collectively, a school's faculty can -- and should-- be committed to strong teaching, he said.

Individuals who are exceptional teachers share several traits, he said, including:

Bondeson also emphasized that faculty and residence hall staff need to cooperate to help students learn where they learn best: in their homes (or residence halls) and from each other.

"There shouldn't be that dichotomy. We should bring the two together," he said.

Officially, there are no benchmarks for "Teaching I" status, but Bondeson said one indication that a university is on track is a genuine sentiment "that good research does not forgive mediocre teaching."

Jischke: "University I"

In his remarks to faculty at the conference, President Martin Jischke said the goal of becoming an "Education I" university is worthwhile, but narrow, and preferably a subsidiary of the broader goal for Iowa State: to become a "University I" or "Land-Grant I" university.

He said that a focus on just teaching or research or outreach "fosters zero-sum-game" thinking.

"We don't want to fall victim to pitting one aspect of our mission against another," he said.

As Iowa State works to become an "Education I" university, it should do so in the context of its broader mission to become the best land-grant in the country, he said.

Jischke reviewed a list of university initiatives that support its "Education I" aspiration, including:

Iowa State homepage

Inside Iowa State,, University Relations
Copyright © 1998, Iowa State University, all rights reserved
Revised 4/2/98