Teaching excellence is important at any university, but Saint Mary’s University takes many necessary steps to ensure it.

One way is through ongoing professional development. Recently faculty members with the graduate schools came together for professional development Sept. 20-21 at the University Center in Minneapolis.

During this two-day Partners in Learning Fall Faculty Conference, Saint Mary’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs faculty members learned how to become even more critically reflective teachers from guest speaker and internationally acclaimed educator and author Dr. Stephen Brookfield. Brookfield is author of 15 books on adult learning, including Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

According to Dr. Susan Hines, who directs faculty development at Saint Mary’s graduate schools, Partners in Learning supports academic excellence by awakening, nurturing and empowering all faculty members to be effective educators who are able to ensure quality student learning.

Faculty members who attended the fall workshop found value to bring to the classroom to help students learn. Here’s what two of them had to say:

“It makes me think differently about outcomes and the goal of the student rather than my goal as teacher,” said Mayo Clinic Operations Manager Scott Gifford, who teaches leadership ethics, organizational behavior, and case study analysis in the MBA program and healthcare systems for Health and Human Services, all offered in our Rochester location.

“It validates some things I’m doing and gives me other ways to enhance and improve my teaching,” said Cindy Skaalrud ’06, who teaches general education courses for the bachelor’s completion programs in Minneapolis and Apple Valley. A 2006 graduate of the Master of Arts in Human Development program, Skaalrud is also a life enrichment director in a healthcare setting in the Twin Cities.

Faculty development activities will continue throughout the year at the graduate schools based in Minneapolis as well as at the University’s undergraduate campus in Winona.

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