Burger to extend term at Baylor

Professor of Mathematics Ed Burger, who spent the fall semester teaching at Baylor University after winning the 2010 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, will return to Baylor in July to serve as the school’s vice provost for strategic educational initiatives.

According to officials at Baylor, the position was created with Burger in mind after he spent a semester teaching two undergraduate mathematics courses at the university. The new tenure will allow him to spend one year helping faculty examine their teaching techniques and what effects faculty can have on students’ lives through the lessons, strategies and subject matter they incorporate into their teaching, according to an article that appeared yesterday in the Baylor Lariat.

The vice provost for strategic educational initiatives position will likely not be a permanent position at Baylor.

During his extended stay at Baylor, Burger will continue to expand several initiatives that he began under the Cherry program last fall, including continuing to offer the faculty forums and seminars designed to encourage faculty to think about how the bigger lessons they teach can arise from within their individual academic disciplines.

According to the Lariat article, faculty members and administration at Baylor hoped the opportunity to work on educational strategies would convince Burger to remain at the university, where he began teaching last fall after winning the Cherry Award, the only national teaching award given by an institution for higher education to an individual for exceptional teaching.

As a finalist for the award during fall 2009, Burger took a three-day visit to Baylor University, where he gave two class lectures and a public lecture for members of the Cherry Committee. He also gave a mathematics talk during Family Days at the College that fall as part of the competition.

“Ed Burger was already scheduled to be on leave from Williams this coming fall,” said Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Public Affairs. “He’s now extending that by a semester to pursue what looks like a terrific opportunity to spread more broadly his creative and effective approaches to teaching.

“It’s great when Williams faculty are able to have such a positive influence beyond our own campus,” added Kolesar.

Burger is the third faculty member at the College to have won the Cherry Award. Other award winners include Colin Adams, professor of mathematics, who won the Cherry Award in 2003 and Bob Bell, professor of English, who received the award in 1998.

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