The sunlit, spacious new Center for Teaching and Learning will host its grand opening this afternoon, after two and a half years of preparation.
Founded in July 2014 to provide academic resources, the center did not have a permanent home until it moved to Sterling Memorial Library Jan. 11. Previously, the center was located in the Hall of Graduate Studies and at 35 Broadway. Neither of those spaces had more than four desks, according to Lucas Swineford, the executive director of digital education. The confines of these spaces prohibited the center from accommodating large workshops, Swineford said.
The new 35,000-square-foot space features classrooms, small meeting rooms, technology and recording studios, office spaces for staff and open areas with tables and couches. Swineford said this design will allow the center to reach a larger number of people.
The total cost of the project, including some renovations to the Music Library, was approximately $10 million. All of the major construction is complete, but minor projects such as programing light dimmer switches is still ongoing.
“We wanted to make sure that it was very welcoming, very community-oriented, and more visible,” said Jennifer Frederick, the executive director of the center. “We wanted to make teaching public. We wanted to do a lot of sharing and collaboration and emphasize teams.”
Though “Staff Entrance” — a remnant of the space’s previous use as an administrative area for the library — is engraved in the stone over the York St. entrance, Frederick hopes that the space will meet the teaching and learning needs of all members of Yale’s community.
The center will run programs to help graduate students and postdoctoral associates and fellows hone teaching and technological skills, which Frederick said will help them acquire teaching positions in the future. Faculty will also be able to take advantage of the center’s workshops and facilities to integrate technology into the classroom. Swineford said these resources are not only for professors interested in “cutting-edge” technology, but also any faculty who want to become more comfortable with technology.
Swineford said another advantage of the space, which was designed by Newman Architects, is its flexibility. The furniture and technology in most rooms can be reconfigured, and two meeting rooms can be combined into a larger room. A small touchscreen monitor outside of each room displays the room’s schedule and a floorplan with nearby rooms’ availability.
The directors also wanted the center to reflect University President Peter Salovey’s “vision of one Yale” and be integrated into Sterling. To that end, some materials — oak, limestone and metal — are visible in both spaces. Sterling’s original windows stand out against the freshly-painted white walls.
Tutoring services for undergraduate students will now be consolidated into one space. In the past, peer writing tutors had a dedicated space at the Writing Center but Science and Quantitative Reasoning tutors had to look for their own meeting places.
Hopewell Rogers ’18, a writing partner employed by the Center, said that while the new space is easier to access and more comfortable than the location at 35 Broadway, she questioned whether glass cubicals were optimal for tutoring meetings with students.
“When you’re struggling or not proud of something, that’s not a comfortable place to be,” she said. “There’s something about sharing that with only one person.”
Paige Torres ’19 said that, though she is not familiar with the center’s services, she likes studying there because it is close to her college Ezra Stiles, and is quieter than other study spaces.
Helen Beilinson GRD ’20 and Andrew Muehleisen FES ’20 were also not familiar with many of the Center’s resources beyond its Certificate of College Teaching Preparation, a program that trains graduate students to teach undergraduate courses and holds classes in the new center.
Guests at the grand opening include Salovey, Deputy Provost for Teaching and Learning Scott Strobel, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Tamar Gendler, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway and Dean of the Graduate School Lynn Cooley. The ceremony will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.