Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a "Teaching and Learning Center"?

A Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) is central and dedicated space where ongoing excellence and support in teaching and learning is the primary focus, staffed by professionals with expertise in pedagogy, teaching innovation, and student learning.As conceived in the W&L strategic planning process, the Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE) will support both student learning and faculty development, a two-pronged focus that is common at many TLCs on other campuses.

Do other liberal arts colleges have a TLC?

Nearly all of our peer institutions have a Teaching and Learning Center. We have studied TLCs at Carleton, Pomona, Bucknell, Vassar, Macalester, Middlebury, Davidson, Bowdoin, Centre, Sewanee, Grinnell, Swarthmore, Williams, and many more. Most premiere state universities also have TLCs, and among the Ivies, the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard is pre-eminent.

Where did the idea of a Teaching and Learning Center come from?

We have had discussions on campus about a TLC for many years, and the concept featured prominently in the multi-year Strategic Planning process. The final report from the College Task Force stated the following goal: "establish and staff a Center for Teaching and Learning to support the learning of a more diverse student body"; and the STEM pedagogy report from 2016 stated, "Create a professionally-staffed Center for Teaching and Learning to offer professional development activities that will both encourage faculty to adopt more active pedagogical methods and empower them to do these well." In addition, the Admissions and Student Life task forces emphasized the benefits of such a Center. The eventual Strategic Plan unanimously approved by the Trustees listed the creation of a TLC as one of the major initiatives.

What sort of faculty support would a Teaching and Learning Center offer?

CARPE will support faculty efforts to become ever better teachers, offering workshops, experimental classrooms, presentations, practice space, and training on new technologies and techniques in teaching. The kinds of programs offered in Fall and Winter academy are exemplary of this support, as are other structured programs on teaching such as inclusive pedagogies, active learning, digital storytelling, and so much more. CARPE will offer space, staffing, and resources for ongoing and sustained cooperative faculty efforts aimed at helping great teachers continue to provide state-of-the-art teaching excellence.

What kind of student support would a Teaching and Learning Center offer?

CARPE will support student learning through tutoring expertise, a writing and communication center, executive function support, group and individual learning sessions, and uses of new technologies for learning. Currently W&L provides peer tutoring and student support in multiple formats and venues. A Teaching and Learning Center would bring these efforts together, provide space as needed for this work, and enhance the range and quality of student support. The current two-structure writing and communication centers will be joined into a single, state-of-the-art Writing and Communication Center that will provide excellent and wide-ranging writing and communication instruction for all students across the university.

How will a Teaching and Learning Center impact faculty recruitment?

Job candidates are already inquiring about and responding with enthusiasm to the plan for such a center. Responses indicate a strong interest in such a resource and the message it sends about our commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.

What kinds of spaces will the Teaching and Learning Center contain?

  • A multi-purpose room, much like Hillel 101 but slightly smaller, for programs and meetings of all sorts during the day, which would then serve as student tutoring space in the evenings; 
  • The Writing and Communication Center, likely two adjoining rooms for each function with smaller "satellite" tutoring/conference spaces adjacent; 
  • An experimental classroom in which new technologies, teaching methods, and pedagogical approaches can be explored, captured on video, reviewed and refined; 
  • Additional small group tutoring spaces for particular subjects/topics/needs; 
  • A video recording and editing laboratory with specialized recording and sound equipment, lighting, tech support, and other elements to provide top-flight recording work; and 
  • Office space for the CARPE director and support staff.

How much space might this take up in Leyburn Library?

The current estimate for the CARPE footprint is between 7,000 and 8,000 square feet. Library Director John Tombarge has estimated that Leyburn could absorb up to 10,000 square feet for the CARPE project, and this estimation is coming in well below that threshold. The plan is to carefully integrate CARPE into floors 1 and 2 of Leyburn, such that existing library functions can continue and important library qualities are preserved.

Will books be removed from Leyburn to make space for CARPE? Will student carrels and quiet study spaces be lost?

No. Books are not being removed from Leyburn to make space for the Teaching and Learning Center. In fact, we are committed to maintaining the library collection on site with full accessibility. We will also maintain an adequate number of student carrels, as well as group and quiet study space—in fact, the renovations should enhance these spaces and make them even more inviting for students.

How much compact shelving is going to be put into Leyburn? Where will it go, and what parts of the collection will it hold?

We are going to create about 20,000 linear feet of compact shelving on part of the fourth floor of Leyburn. The bulk of the material on the compact shelving will consist of government documents that are all available online and rarely requested; and bound periodicals that are also available online. Every effort will be made to keep the open and browsable stacks for the main books of the collection. Compact shelving is standard in libraries and would have been an addition to Leyburn in the near future with or without the CARPE project.

How might the Teaching and Learning Center benefit the library?

Leyburn Library's new Strategic Plan, completed in late 2017, emphasizes the importance of integrating a Teaching and Learning Center in Leyburn: "Such a center, housed in the library, would streamline and centralize student academic support services and create a culture of collaborative, peer-centered academic support. It would similarly facilitate pedagogical collaboration among faculty from across the university and formalize the rich and generative ad-hoc collaborations that currently exist. Perhaps most important, the library is the primary study and work space for students, and centralizing academic support services within the library signals to students that such services are convenient, prominent, welcoming, and clearly connected to the other activities of studying, researching, and writing." ("Washington and Lee University Library Strategic Directions: 2017-2022.")

In the recent edition of Folios, the Library magazine, Library Director John Tombarge writes: "Making room for CARPE will require some changes, but we think those changes will create spaces that do an even better job of meeting student needs. All four lower levels of Leyburn contain print collections surrounded by fairly traditional learning spaces that were designed to meet the needs of students in the 1970s. The lower levels provide a mixture of student seating, carrels, group study rooms, classrooms, offices and two computer labs. These facilities do not meet the needs of students in 2018, who will benefit from more flexible study spaces and comfortable areas for collaboration. The renovations necessary to construct CARPE will make great strides in modernizing library facilities and take advantage of the evolving nature of the library's collection."

Why does this project include "temporary classrooms" in Leyburn Library?

The CARPE project is one of 12 major capital projects that were approved by the Board in the new Strategic Plan. These projects need to be carefully managed and synchronized in order to continue to deliver our teaching and learning mission without interruption in quality of service. After the CARPE project is finished, the major renovations of Huntley Hall will begin. The faculty in Huntley will move into Baker for two years (with the Athletics faculty and staff moving out of Baker and into the newly renovated Duchoissois Athletics Center). The classrooms in Huntley will be lost for two years while Huntley is renovated. During this time, we will maximize classroom space across campus, which will include constructing between 4-7 "temporary" classrooms in Leyburn. These classrooms can be easily removed after the project, or repurposed for other needs consistent with long-term library plans.

In addition, several new and permanent classrooms will be built in Leyburn to provide top-quality learning spaces for our students and faculty. This has been a priority of the Library for some time, and these new classrooms (probably 2 or 3) will be excellent additions to the Leyburn teaching and learning efforts.