Kettering names Cynthia Finelli as first director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Kettering names Cynthia Finelli as first director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Apr 20, 2001

Like most career-minded individuals, Cynthia Finelli always expected to work hard in furthering her academic career after receiving her Ph.D. in 1993 from the University of Michigan.

Like most career-minded individuals, Cynthia Finelli always expected to work hard in furthering her academic career after receiving her Ph.D. in 1993 from the University of Michigan. But since coming to Kettering University, the associate professor of Electrical Engineering realized she also has the opportunity to make Kettering a great place to work and learn for faculty, staff and students.

Finelli was recently named the first director of Kettering's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), a research and resource center for teaching and learning. The center is the result of Kettering's Teaching Fellows' group, an initiative created by Finelli and Trevor Harding, associate professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. The goal of the Teaching Fellows is to provide opportunities for faculty to share teaching techniques that enhance student learning while offering faculty new, innovative ways to teach.

Finelli said that during initial meetings the Teaching Fellows began to discuss the concept of a center for teaching and learning that would, among other things, promote a learner-centered educational community, encourage and support teaching-related professional development of all Kettering educators. It would also provide training for faculty in student outcomes assessment. Based on responses to both the Teaching Fellows' Speaking Series and on her appointment as director of the CETL, Finelli is excited about the positive impact these initiatives will have on the Kettering community and the school's ability to provide students with an exceptional education.

"So far, we've received very positive feedback," she said. "We've also had quite a few Kettering faculty and staff offer to assist with the center, which is very encouraging. I distributed a survey to the Kettering community to assess campus needs in terms of the teaching center and nearly all respondents support the center."

Part of Finelli's initial work with the CETL includes visiting teaching centers at other institutions, meeting with center directors for input about their experiences with teaching centers, and establishing benchmarks for the CETL. In addition, she attended a two-day workshop on faculty development and continues to work on preparing the site for the center, which is located on the first floor of the Academic Building in the area previously occupied by the old health center turned Distance Learning Center.

Some of Finelli's future plans for the center include establishing a sustained faculty development program, developing a CETL website to provide resources to faculty, creating a reference library in the CETL, establishing a new faculty orientation program and pursuing external funding in support of the center and its work.

Perhaps the only thing that could slow her work as director of the CETL is the birth of a new baby. The opening ceremony for the center was originally scheduled for summer 2001, but Finelli and her husband, Michael, along with their five-year-old son, Carmine, expect a new little one in July, which may mean rescheduling the official ceremony.

"During the interview process for the CETL director position, I told the selection committee of my pregnancy," she said. "They were great about it, which makes it easier for me to work hard in making this center a success. I am anxious to start leading the center and making it a place where educators can improve their teaching skills."

Written by Gary Erwin, PR and Communications, 810-762-9538, gerwin@kettering.edu