University of Southern California
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Graduate and Professional Education

Special Study Options

Center for Excellence in Teaching

Grace Ford Salvatori, Suite 211
(213) 740-9040
FAX: (213) 821-2474

Director: J. Lawford Anderson, Ph.D.

Program Manager: Dana Coyle

Faculty Fellows: J. Lawford Anderson, Earth Sciences; Sarah Banet-Weiser, Communication; Steven Chen, Pharmacy; Frank Corsetti, Earth Sciences; Steven Finkel, Molecular Biology; Stephan Haas, Physics and Astronomy; Heather James, English; Win May, Medical Education-Keck; Tara McPherson, Cinematic Arts; Najm Meshkati, Civil/Environmental Engineering; Geoffrey Middlebrook, The Writing Program; Sally Pratt, Slavic Languages and Literatures; Margaret Rosenthal, French and Italian; Karen Sternheimer, Sociology

Distinguished Faculty Fellows: Warren Bennis, Management and Organization; Nelson Eugene (Gene) Bickers, Physics; Sharon M. Carnicke, Theatre; Delores Conway, Information and Operations Management; Gerald C. Davison, Psychology; William Deverell, History; Donna Elliott, Pediatrics-Keck; Judy Garner, Cell and Neurobiology; Howard Gillman, Political Science; Heather James, English; Mark E. Kann, Political Science; James Kincaid, English; Paul W. Knoll, History; Steven L. Lamy, International Relations; Nancy Lutkehaus, Anthropology; Debbie MacInnis, Business; Frank Manis, Psychology; Doe Mayer, Cinematic Arts; William O. McClure, Biological Sciences; William F. McComas, Education; Charles McKenna, Chemistry; Beth Meyerowitz, Psychology; Danielle Mihram, French and Italian; Michael W. Quick, Biological Sciences; Nandini Rajagopalan, Management and Organization; Alison Dundes Renteln, Political Science; Steven B. Sample, University President and Honorary Distinguished Faculty Fellow; Joel E. Schechter, Cell and Neurobiology; Terry Lee Seip, History; Geoffrey Spedding, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Craig B. Stanford, Anthropology; Peter Starr, French and Comparative Literature; Nelly Stromquist, Education; Armand R. Tanguay, Jr., Engineering; S. Mark Young, Accounting; John Walsh, Gerontology; Bruce E. Zuckerman, Religion

The mission of the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) is to provide shared leadership, vision and support in the pursuit and development of effective and innovative teaching and mentoring in order to foster and enhance deep and lifelong learning. Such a mission upholds and sustains our institutional goals. CET is a unique, fellow-driven organization that is dedicated to the inspiration, development and advancement of outstanding teachers and mentors among USC’s faculty and students.

CET strives to encourage the full integration of the university’s research mission into teaching, both in and outside of the classroom. Excellence in research requires commitment to the development of superior communication and instructional skills in all fields, as well as in the training of our students for their future in academia. The scholarly activities of the faculty may lead directly to opportunities to foster university-wide discourse on the commitment to excellence in teaching.

The objectives of CET’s Faculty Fellows are to:

  • Form, as a group, an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of common pedagogical approaches and disciplinary differences
  • Share teaching strategies, successes and challenges
  • Serve as mentors available to faculty and students
  • Serve as advocates for a university-wide discourse on the commitment to excellence in teaching
  • Foster recognition of the importance of teaching as an indispensable dimension of undergraduate and graduate education

Fellows serve students directly via mentoring and indirectly as evangelists for teaching excellence throughout the university, by sharing ideas in workshops and offering advisement on effective teaching methods to junior faculty. In addition, the fellows collectively seek to provide an intellectual resource on instructional theory and policy evaluation for university administrators tasked with responding to challenges posed by the changing national educational environment.

The Teaching Assistant Fellows (TAF) program for outstanding USC Teaching Assistants (TAs) primarily produces Teaching Assistant (TA) training materials and offers programs to enhance TA instruction across the university and beyond. The TAFs work collaboratively combining their personal teaching expertise with research on best practices to create cutting-edge materials. The TAF-created wiki exemplifies the work of the TAFs. The USC TA wiki provides information by TAs for TAs. The TAF-created wiki can be found at

Secondarily, the TAF program provides professional development for the TAFs through monthly workshops. TAFs receive advanced training in the modern theory and practice of pedagogy as well as mentoring from CET Fellows and other USC experts.

The CET Undergraduate Fellows program is designed to support CET’s mission by establishing a group of undergraduates committed to improving USC’s undergraduate educational experience. The CET Undergraduate Fellows program provides students with a way to provide input and support for the betterment of the undergraduate academic experience. Undergraduate fellows also receive mentoring from faculty fellows.

CET trains new teaching assistants at the beginning of each semester and assists in the creation and operation of teaching assistant training programs within each school. The center is also asked to develop better ways to evaluate teaching effectiveness and student learning. In its capacity as principal advocate for and promoter of an excellent teaching and learning environment on campus, CET provides recognition and awards for excellent teachers and mentors nominated and selected by faculty and students. Each year CET solicits nominations for and selects the winners of several university-wide awards and grants for teaching and mentoring excellence: The Associates Awards for Excellence in Teaching are the highest honor the university faculty can bestow on its members for outstanding teaching. They recognize career achievements in teaching with emphasis on concrete accomplishments and proven results; it is not intended as a “teacher of the year” award. A maximum of two awards of $7,500 each are presented each year at the Academic Honors Convocation in April to emphasize the university’s recognition of the significant role that teaching plays in its mission.

The University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards of $1,000 are presented each year at the Academic Honors Convocation to three graduate teaching assistants who have exhibited consistent excellence in the classroom and symbolizes the university’s dedication to the education of scholars-teachers.

The Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching is a program designed to foster new ideas in university instruction. Funding is awarded to competitive innovative projects. Such projects are ones that are not part of the faculty member’s usual teaching commitment (either in content or instructional mode), and, as such, should make a significant addition to USC’s pedagogical effort.

CET also arranges symposia, institutes, conferences, demonstrations and other kinds of programmatic activities to support excellence in teaching and learning on behalf of the university.