About the Finch Center for Teaching & Learning

faculty at LJ's

History of the Center for Teaching and Learning

Mary Ellen Finch, PhD, receives a congratulatory bouquet of flowers from her son, John.

Mary Ellen Finch, PhD, receives a congratulatory bouquet of flowers from her son, John.

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) began in the Spring of 2004 as a collaboration between Mary Ellen Finch, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Director Marilyn Cohn, who designed a single year seminar for full time faculty to inquire about their own teaching more deeply. The one-year seminar developed into a meaningful practice for many faculty members under Marilyn’s direction, and is still a seminar available to all faculty today. Click here to read more about what came from this seminar.

The CTL continued to evolve to include book clubs, brown bag lunches, a Scholarship for Teaching and Learning conference on Maryville’s campus, and the group, Teaching and Learning Colleagues – a group which provides observations without evaluation.

In 2009, the Center for Teaching and Learning was renamed the “Finch Center for Teaching and Learning,” in honor of its founder, Mary Ellen Finch, VPAA.

In 2015, Marilyn Cohn retired as CTL Director on 2015, and Jesse Kavadlo, Professor of English, became Director and Laura Ross, Adjunct Professor of Music, became Associate Director.


“The Center for Teaching and Learning bears my name and I could not be happier with the work in supporting and deepening what I believe in and hoped for when I started it all those years ago.”

Dr. Mary Ellen Finch

Dr. Mary Ellen Finch
Vice President for Academic Affairs

“When we started to formulate new ideas in faculty learning back in 2015, we wanted to invest in a stronger sense of teaching community with innovative ideas in student engagement at the forefront.”

Laura Ross

Laura Ross
Associate Director of CTL

The University Strategic Plan

In 2015, Maryville unveiled its strategic plan and introduced the Digital World initiative to offer iPads to all incoming traditional freshman. In order to encourage faculty to learn more about teaching with technology and engaging students, the university began offering two weeks of professional development, one in the fall and one in the spring. These weeks would be hosted through the CTL. Click here to learn more about the two weeks of professional development.

In 2016, the CTL placed greater emphasis on reaching adjunct instructors as well as full time professors at Maryville. Currently, the Center for Teaching and Learning hosts events throughout the year including the two weeks of professional development, REAL (relating, experiencing, applying, and learning) in the fall, and Perspectives in the spring. Click here to see the full list of programs hosted by the CTL.

To align with our strategic plan, the following faculty support is available:

  • Active Learning Eco System
    • Focusing on encouraging incorporating student learning diagnostics, differentiated learning, and the growth mindset
    • Continuing to host two weeks of professional learning annually based on cutting edge teaching strategies and proven models of teaching and learning
    • Continuing to foster opportunists for community growth among full time and adjunct faculty through discussions, programs and our Teaching Triads, and collaboration for presenting professional learning programs
    • Providing highlights of REAL and Perspectives weeks in the online environment
  • Transformational Innovation
    • Awarding Innovation Grants
    • Incorporating Student Learning Diagnostics
    • Continuing dialogue between faculty and students outside of the classroom to influence ways in which we teach and learn
    • Encouraging collaboration when it comes to curriculum design and aligning outcomes for assignments, courses, programs, and schools and colleges
  • Diversity and Inclusiveness
    • Focusing on inclusivity with opportunities like expert guest speakers, workshops, and learning opportunities
    • Continuing to provide programs like “Building Bridges,” where students and faculty speak candidly about challenges surrounding diversity
    • Continuing to provide workshops like “Practice What We Preach” which includes elements of role playing challenging topics surrounding diversity with students
    • Collaborating with members of the current Maryville faculty in developing a “Teaching Inclusivity” tool kit in the Spring of 2018
    • Providing sessions during our professional learning weeks include how to incorporate current events into the classroom
    • Continuing to provide opportunities like taking all faculty to the Civil Rights exhibit at Missouri History Museum with discussion sessions following
    • Continuing to provide programming to teach important books about the history of Civil Rights in America, like the 2016-2018 Maryville Reads book, “Freedom Summer”
  • Strategic Growth
    • Encouraging faculty to continuously develop new, challenging, and exciting assignments and goals for students that provide clear relationships between students and the material
    • Incorporating learning real world skills which will be valuable to real employers
    • Continuing dialogue between faculty and students outside of the classroom to influence ways in which we teach and learn
    • Our professional learning program utilizes teaching philosophies like Deeper Learning (see a.), Project Based Learning and taking a greater stake in faculty learning (see b.), and Team Building (see c.)

CTL Satisfaction Data


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Satisfaction in Community Building


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Satisfaction in Sharing Technology


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Satisfaction in Sharing New Ideas

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