Program Draws on Strengths of Oberlin and Michigan
Anne C. Paine
new program being launched by Oberlin and the University
of Michigan may prove to be a model for future reform in
brainchild of Clayton Koppes, vice president for academic
affairs and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and
University of Michigan president emeritus James Duderstadt,
the collaboration centers on the idea of using complementary
strengths to enhance both institutions.
the program, recent PhD recipients will be awarded two-year,
supervised teaching fellowships at Oberlin, and current
Oberlin faculty members will go to Michigan to pursue research
or immerse themselves in new fields.
simple idea will bring far-reaching results for both campuses.
speaking, graduate schools prepare students primarily for
careers in research, leaving them ill-prepared for a job
search in the wider world of higher education," says President
Nancy Dye. "Conversely, scholars at schools like Oberlin
can find it difficult to keep pace with rapidly evolving
knowledge. Access to the resources and facilities of a major
research university, as well as to research colleagues,
will ultimately enhance teaching at the undergraduate institutions."
Oberlin-Michigan collaboration is certainly not the first
in the higher-education reform movement, but it is unique,
Koppes says, because it is a direct, formal, cooperative,
and ongoing link between two very different types of institutions.
has a lot to offer Michigan," he says. "We have highly qualified
faculty members who are actively engaged in scholarship,
and who can work on an equal basis with the Michigan faculty.
We have highly talented students whom Michigan likes to
enroll as graduate students.
not much cooperation now between different types of institutions,
but it's a natural," Koppes continues. "There are ways in
which colleges and universities can complement each other.
We should emphasize the teaching aspect of colleges and
the research aspects of universities and play on the relative
strengths of these different types of institutions."
the former Michigan president and current professor of nuclear
engineering and radiological sciences, agrees. "Even today,
current proposals to reform higher education too often persist
in a rhetoric that pits teaching against scholarship, as if
to excel in one means shortchanging the other." he says.
this false opposition, our program draws upon and develops
pre-existing strengths in different kinds of institutions
and will help set the stage for future exchange relationships
that cut across institutional divides."
first teaching fellow will begin work at Oberlin in the fall
2001 semester. A timetable has not yet been established for
Oberlin faculty members to do work at Michigan.
starting small because we're starting with our own resources,"
Koppes says. "We're seeking foundation funding and are confident
that such funding will be secured."
addition to faculty development opportunities, Koppes says
the program will help Oberlin with faculty recruitment.
and retention of faculty of color is a tough problem for everybody,
but finding solutions is essential to our future. Michigan
has been a leader in the recruitment of a diverse graduate-student
body. Prospective faculty, especially faculty of color, are
always concerned about being part of a larger community. This
program will help with that."
will also benefit, as improved courses and revitalized faculty
members mean better teaching at Oberlin.
between types of institutions is going to be very important
to the future of higher education, and to the future of colleges
like Oberlin," Koppes says.
only impediment to this partnership is getting around Toledo,"
he jokes, referring to the two-hour drive between Oberlin
and Ann Arbor.
Closing Institutional Devides |