About the Center for Teaching

In 1987 the President of Norwalk Community College brought a new idea to the state of Connecticut. President Bill Schwab had talked with people in other parts of the country and their colleges were starting a new thing, called a Center for Teaching. This innovative president worked with several others to put together a proposal and present the idea to the Council of Presidents. After convincing them that it was worth a try and getting support from the Chancellor, Andy McKirdy, he asked every president in the system to select a faculty member to attend a meeting to make the Center operational. The Council of Academic Deans was also asked to send three representatives.

At the first meeting, a plan for the center was proposed with a physical location in the System Office, a director, and a support staff person. President Schwab presented the idea at the first meeting. Almost immediately, faculty opposed a centralized administrative office. For several months, the discussion was heated.

However, it quickly became apparent that both sides did share a common goal — promoting the best teaching practices possible. LeRoy Barnes of Middlesex had been to a “Great Teachers Seminar” in Wisconsin and thought the formal might help the planning group work together. That September, he convened the full group at the Mercy Center in Madison.

Under the leadership of President Schwab, and with strong support from President Bob Chapman from Middlesex, Conrad Mallet from what was then the Capital Region Community College District, and Bob Miller from Quinebaug Valley, the Presidents’ Council bought the idea. Dean Wall sold it to the Academic Deans’ Council. Faculty sold it on their own campuses, and the 4Cs  Union also became an earlier supporter. The Connecticut Center for Teaching was born.

Because of the leadership demonstrated by Professor Barnes during the discussions, and especially his leadership during the retreat at the Mercy Center, he was nominated and unanimously elected the first head of the Center for Teaching. LeRoy began the daunting task of bringing 12 colleges together, getting union members and management to agree on ideas and programs, and then actually get the programs off the ground.

Over the following years, programs such as the Barnes Seminar, Instructional Skills Workshops, Teaching Partners, Spirit of Teaching and department Chairs Workshops have been established through the hard work of several individuals. The teaching/learning consultant position was initiated in 2000.

Today, because of such visionaries as Bill Schwab and LeRoy Barnes, the Connecticut Community Colleges and Universities System continues to support excellence in teaching and learning.