Vice Provost and Dean Cynthia Carter Ching in the Redwood Grove, UC Davis Arboretum

Teaching and Leading: About this Blog

When I learned that I had been selected for the position of Interim Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education this year, I was looking forward to a lot of things. I knew I would enjoy collaborating with other university leaders, working with students across campus, and diving headfirst into the challenge of widespread remote learning during the pandemic. But one thing I knew I would miss was teaching. Since coming to the School of Education at UC Davis in 2007, each year I’ve taught some combination of an undergraduate class on Educational Psychology and graduate courses on research methods, learning theory, educational technology, and academic writing. (Okay, there was that one year I was on sabbatical, but it honestly drove me crazy to not have any classes.) The prospect of a year without teaching made me a little sad, despite being pretty excited about everything else.

Flash forward about four months, and I now understand that part of this job is actually teaching, at least how I interpret it anyway. When you are a central campus administrator, you get invited to a lot of events where they ask you to prepare and deliver “remarks.” People approach these remarks in many different ways, but I’ve come to see them as opportunities to educate our campus community, from my position not just as an administrator but also as an education scholar. What I’ve been talking about most often is how many of the things we focus on every day—advising, assessment, teaching, retention, fundraising, etc—are all fundamentally related to equity. As such, all these normal, mundane university activities are actually profoundly important. It matters how we think about them, how we talk about them, and how we do them.

What follows is an ongoing collection of my “remarks” at various events throughout the year. I’m starting to think of this work as a type of Administrator-Scholar-Activism. Is that a thing? Maybe. I’m working on it, anyway.

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