Melanie Burdick named director of C-TEL

Washburn University has announced the new director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning (C-TEL) as Melanie Burdick, who has been serving as intern director since Margaret Wood, the founding director, departed Washburn University December 16 of last year.

On top of a having a strong career history and receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in curriculum and teaching (with an emphasis in composition and rhetoric) and a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri, Burdick has over 20 years of teaching experience including 5 years at Washburn.

“The finalist candidates were excellent,” said Randy Pembrook, vice president for academic affairs. “They both had wonderful ideas about teaching and enthusiasm in terms of working with faculty and development skills, but Melanie had a little more experience with the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning.”

Pembrook made the final decision of appointing Burdick as director from the two finalists out of six initial candidates.

The Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning has been developed at Washburn to provide support for the incoming faculty as well is to acquaint them to the culture within the university. C-TEL has a special mentoring program that matches new teaching staff with a mentor in order to provide them with advice for at least a year. The program also gives a variety of tools to Washburn faculty that promotes teaching excellence and enhances student learning.

“We have study groups, workshops, speakers, summer courses, online institute and such activities to promote faculty development for the faculty who participate in it,” Burdick said.

The new position held by Burdick is important to Washburn because it allows teachers to realize their university vision as a student-centered, teaching-focused institution. C-TEL also provides an option of earning a Certificate of Teaching and Learning for the professors seeking tenure and promotion as well as for the lecturers and adjuncts needing documentation of professional development.

Burdick said she has warm feelings about her new position.

“I have gotten to know faculty across the university that I wouldn’t have contact with otherwise and gotten to meet wonderful teachers,” Burdick said. “It is professionally satisfying to me to have a conversation about teaching and trying to figure out how to be a better teacher myself, and it helps other people when I do that.”

Currently, Burdick is working on the development of the schedule for the next academic year, which includes a special emphasis on promoting diversity on Washburn campus.

Burdick has already appointed a faculty member, Sandra Tutwiler, to be responsible for an important acculturation objective. Burdick said Tutwiler made a perfect candidate for such position because she has already done extensive research on diversity issues and even published a book called “Multiracial Students.”

Burdick is also planning to hire a student worker next fall and a part-time administrative assistant.

“Washburn has put a lot of resources and a real emphasis on helping us develop as teachers, and not just as researchers and scholars in our field, but helping us to be better instructors for our students,” Burdick said.