On January 22, Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School at Princeton University kicked off a partnership that will enrich the classroom experience for RCSJ students while providing teaching experiences for Princeton Ph.D. candidates. University and College officials, faculty, staff and students joined for a signing ceremony to mark the beginning of the collaboration.
Beginning in fall 2020, the Community College Teaching Partnership Program will pair Princeton graduate students with tenured or tenure-track RCSJ faculty. Designed to help future educators develop effective teaching skills in a diverse community college setting, the partnership offers professional growth opportunities for graduate students while providing RCSJ students with the chance to learn from emerging scholars at Princeton.
“I personally made the decision to attend Princeton University for graduate school due to the focus on pedagogy within the Graduate School at Princeton University. My experience in the classroom at Princeton further enhanced my drive to enter the classroom as a college instructor,” said Rowan College of South Jersey Provost and Vice President of Academic Services Brenden Rickards. “After now teaching for more than a decade in higher education, I am very excited to partner with my former institution to provide mentoring opportunities to graduate students within the Graduate School to develop the instructors of the next generation. For Rowan College of South Jersey, this is an exceptional opportunity for our students to learn from top-notch graduate students in the classroom and to be exposed to enhanced educational offerings. I am excited for what this partnership does for the students of Rowan College of South Jersey as well as the educators of tomorrow.”
Added Sarah-Jane Leslie, dean of the Graduate School and professor of Philosophy, “By partnering with New Jersey’s public institutions in the training and professional development of Princeton students as future faculty, we are not only investing in the future of higher education in the state but also across the nation and the around world.”
For two semesters, Princeton Ph.D. students will participate in a mentored teaching experience guided by tenured or tenure-track RCSJ faculty. During the spring of 2020, graduate students will focus on shadowing and observing their assigned mentor, both inside and outside of the classroom. The students will also participate in three to four professional development seminars in preparation for teaching their own course. Graduate students will learn from community college experts about key topics in pedagogy, including assessment, online learning, student life, financial aid and disabilities services. They will also draft syllabi for the upcoming semester and receive feedback from faculty mentors on course design. Developing online and hybrid courses will also be encouraged, with the students invited to take advantage of existing resources at both institutions. In fall of 2020, Princeton graduate students, using the syllabi developed in semester one, will teach their own course to RCSJ undergraduates.
“I applied for the Community College Teaching Fellowship because teaching is my favorite part of academia,” said Ian McKeachie, a philosophy Ph.D. student. “I love introducing material to students for the first time, and I was excited at the prospect of bringing my discipline to a wider audience.”
Princeton chemistry graduate candidate Emilia Arguello, agrees. “I want to teach because it is moving. It is moving to have been mentored by fantastic educators during my undergraduate time and to now have the chance to learn to become one. It is fulfilling to have been noticed and cared for and to now be able to do so for others. It is humbling to be taught with empathy and to now be in a position to give it back.”
“I am excited to be a part of this promising partnership between Princeton University and RCSJ,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy Zbigniew Marczuk, who will be McKeachie’s mentor at RCSJ.
STEM Dean Christina Nase concurs, “I have been so fortunate to have many mentors throughout my academic and professional career. I will never be able to pay them back so all I can do is pay it forward. I am very excited to work with Emilia this year and welcome her to our STEM team.
“The partnership agreement with the Graduate School at Princeton University provides a rich professional development opportunity for graduate candidates as they acquire effective teaching skills working with a diverse community college student population,” stated RCSJ President Frederick Keating. “Our faculty mentors will be energized as they reconnect with their academic disciplines through conversations with their graduate student partners and our students will benefit from exposure to pedagogical techniques embraced by future educators emerging from one of the most respected universities in the nation.”
“I’m delighted that we have created a structured opportunity for Princeton graduate students to expand their teaching experience in the highly diverse community college setting,” stated Sarah Schwarz, associate director of Princeton’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. “The mentorship they are receiving from the master teaching faculty at our partner institutions enhances their teaching skills, enabling them to create more inclusive and effective classrooms for all students wherever they teach.”
“We are confident that this partnership will serve as a catalyst for lifelong learning,” said Princeton University Associate Dean and Director of Professional Development Evangeline Kubu. “By working together, we can inspire and empower the next generation of emerging scholars and changemakers in New Jersey.”
For more information about Rowan College of South Jersey programs and initiatives, visit RCSJ.edu. To view the video of the Rowan College of South Jersey/Princeton University Community College Teaching Partnership, youtu.be/2ltAN5nzftg.