Dr. Mason Conklin stirred with excitement, but this time he wasn’t backstage about to perform—he was offered a new opportunity at Reinhardt University to lead the Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning (CITEL) following a national search.
The CITEL was established in 2018 with a grant from the Goizueta Foundation. Its mission is to foster a campus culture that values collaboration and interaction among teachers and students in order to nurture innovation in the practice of teaching and to emphasize the role of engagement in learning, at Reinhardt University and in its surrounding communities.
As a professor for the School of Performing Arts, Conklin was often adapting his courses, working to use the latest technology and allowing students to take him outside the classroom. Conklin even created a website for his piano students.
With his new title as CITEL director, Conklin is excited to spark the curiosity of both students and educators with the resources the Center provides. While leaving behind his position as a professor, he is excited to take on new challenges as he takes in new perspectives of the University.
“The position itself is a chance for me to really help serve the faculty here,” said Conklin. “We have an amazing faculty, and the Center is part of facilitating what they need.”
CITEL will provide faculty with resources that allow them to continue to educate themselves, benefiting students’ learning experience.
“When faculty are able to develop and learn new things, and they can bring those to their courses, it really invigorates a person’s teaching. It injects some new life, some new perspectives to the classroom experience and that will affect the student,” said Conklin. “Engaged learning is not just the student, it’s a chance for the faculty to model what it is to be an engaged learner and to bring the fruits of that engaged learning into the classroom.”
The Ken White Faculty Resource Lounge is one of many beneficial opportunities CITEL provides. The space includes a kitchenette and lounge for faculty, including bookshelves stocked with teaching resources and a video-conference space.
Part of Conklin’s job description includes overseeing the Quality Enhancement Plan, where he focuses on high impact practices, such as internships, studying abroad, undergraduate research and service learning.
Conklin’s efforts will not only benefit the campus but will reach into the community. Starting in 2020, Reinhardt plans to host bi-annual summer conferences on teaching and learning for local educators to be a part of new techniques and technologies, and that will highlight innovative practices already in place. Conklin will also work to network with local educators and businesses to build relationships leading to internships for students.
“Every day I’m learning something new, and every day I’m encountering new challenges that I hadn’t quite thought about before but that are fun puzzles to contemplate and to get through.”