Student News

Doctoral students Cary Gillenwater, Lara Willox selected as UNC Future Faculty Fellows

Education doctoral students Cary Gillenwater and Lara Willox were among 25 highly promising senior-level doctoral students from across the campus who were selected as UNC-Chapel Hill Future Faculty Fellows this year. Both are fourth-year students in the Culture, Curriculum, and Change specialization of the Ph.D. in Education program.

The UNC Center for Faculty Excellence, sponsor of the Future Faculty Fellowship Program, held the annual seminar for the Fellows Aug. 12-14 and 17-18 at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. This year’s class of Fellows represents a wide variety of academic fields, ranging from physics and mathematics to the humanities and the social sciences.

The intensive seminar addressed a broad range of topics related to teaching and learning at the college level. The Fellows, all aspiring faculty members, learned how to emphasize critical thinking and higher-order learning in their courses, evaluate student learning and balance the many responsibilities of a junior faculty member.

“We talked a lot about effective teaching,” said Gillenwater, who is teaching a course on “Introduction to Education” this fall for the UNC Teaching Fellows Program. “We practiced some specific techniques for getting students engaged. Even though I am a lifelong educator and therefore trained in and maintain effective teaching methods, I am also a lifelong learner; consequently, it was very helpful to learn new specific techniques to use in the higher education classroom.”  

Each Fellow received a 360-page notebook of resource materials on college teaching, three books on college teaching and a $450 honorarium. 

“We were provided with excellent resources, resources geared toward making our teaching more interactive and meaningful,” said Willox, who will teach a course in “Culture, Society and Teaching” this year.

The Fellows also became familiar with many resources on the Carolina campus, such as the Writing Center and the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. “We learned about what these campus resources can offer to graduate students and how they work together and support each other,” Gillenwater said.

A common response among the Fellows was that they wanted to take all they were learning and put it in their syllabi immediately, noted Gillenwater. “We had to recognize that we can’t do everything at once,” he said.

One of the main goals of the Future Faculty Fellowship is to promote sound teaching practices at the higher education level. The Center for Faculty Excellence recognizes and validates teaching as a powerful skill that complements research. As a part of this mission, the Fellows were provided information on how to create a teaching portfolio and prepare for an academic job search when they seek to become faculty members in higher education in the future.