University of Vermont

Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR)

INQUIRY 2016 Research, Scholarship and the Arts at UVM

The Teacher-Scholar at Today's University

From left: David Rosowsky, Ph.D., and Richard Galbraith, M.D., Ph.D. A CONVERSATION

University of Vermont Provost and Senior Vice President David Rosowsky, Ph.D., and Vice President for Research Richard Galbraith, M.D., Ph.D., share their thoughts on the driving force of research, scholarship, and creative arts at the modern university.


RICHARD GALBRAITH: Everybody understands what a teacher does, and everybody understands what a scholar or a researcher does, and it is quite possible to do one without doing the other. Indeed, that's what you'll find at some universities. But at UVM we combine the two. The scholarship faculty members engage in enhances their teaching and the depth of their understanding of a subject, and their teaching experiences further refine and hone their ability to practice their scholarship. Our goal is for all of our faculty members to be deeply engaged in both teaching and scholarship. And we use the words "scholar" and "scholarship" very intentionally when we describe this model, because we recognize scholarship in the humanities and the creative arts with the same emphasis and importance as extramurally funded research in the sciences. Scholarship encompasses all forms of inquiry and discovery.


DAVID ROSOWSKY: The Teacher-Scholar model brings value to our undergraduate teaching, to our graduate teaching, to our professional student training, to our postdoctoral research training, and to our most junior faculty up to our most senior faculty. The model has enormous importance to all of these groups. A faculty member who's at the forefront of her or his scholarly discipline brings an additional dimension to teaching. Being able to share new technologies and the latest developments and discoveries in class excites and engages students in their own learning and discovery. These faculty members also influence each other, creating powerful synergies.

Few universities can boast a stronger, more authentic commitment to the teacher-scholar model than UVM. This is something that we cherish, nurture, and celebrate every day.

DAVID ROSOWSKY: If you think about the work that goes on at a university, the words "learning" and "discovery" stand out. Learning and discovery are outcomes, but the fuel that drives our engine is intellectual curiosity. The beauty of a comprehensive research university is its vast range of academic disciplines and perspectives. Motivated by their own curiosity, our faculty — and our students, too — are able to explore and experiment within this broad intellectual space, ultimately creating their own learning and discovery missions. That's why we talk about learning and discovery, and why we see curiosity as the root, as the fuel for what we do.

RICHARD GALBRAITH: Curiosity really is the driver for research and scholarship. And it functions at every level, too. You can have what we often call basic research, in a laboratory setting, in which you are trying to find "how" or "why," with no hint of application — you just want to understand something — and the thing that drives you is curiosity. But then if you arrive at an understanding, that same sense of curiosity drives you to question: well, how can we use this? Could we make something work better now that we know this? Could we design some new thing? That force then leads you through to applying that research and even to starting up a business and creating jobs.


DAVID ROSOWSKY: Certainly. As Richard just described, in basic research, we work to extend our knowledge, with the singular goal of furthering an area of understanding. Applied knowledge usually starts with the thought: "here's a challenge that we want to overcome, or here's something that we want to do better." Or "here's something that we want to create that doesn't exist." It's these questions of applied knowledge that are driving much of the research today. It's driving researchers to think about technology commercialization, to have an impact beyond campus — to help cure a disease or address some other challenge. We are increasingly seeing faculty who want to be a part of the process of translating research into societal goods. They don't just want to hand it off to a company, they want to be a part of the process and participate with the company or even create a new company. There's a new spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that comes out of research universities today.

RICHARD GALBRAITH: That spirit of innovation, of course, includes things like new inventions that lead to new manufacturing companies, but it also includes things like advances in the understanding and proliferation of new ways to teach kindergarteners. The concept of innovation in the sciences is fairly easy to understand, but thinking critically about how any novel advance impacts society is a form of innovation in itself, and there's a critical role for the humanities to play here — it's only through the lens of society and the humanities that we can evaluate the usefulness of an advance. The impact of that critical thinking extends well beyond our campus.


DAVID ROSOWSKY: We acknowledge more often now than in the past that teaching and research and scholarship go hand in glove. Often those faculty who are most successful in their scholarship are actually the best teachers and mentors on the campus. And that's not a coincidence. They're at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines. They themselves are very excited about their own learning and discovery, and they're able to convey that in the classroom. We increasingly see undergraduate students who want to participate in that discovery process. They're looking for ways to best complement their curricular education — their classroom and laboratory education — with a research experience or a scholarship experience, whether it's work in a laboratory, scholarship in a library, creating a work of art, or perhaps even a service-oriented scholarship activity in the community. They're coming to us not only wanting to benefit from the Teacher-Scholar model, but wanting to be a part of the Teacher-Scholar model.

Students are telling us: I now have a deeper understanding of what this field is about and what drives it. So it makes their education deeper and fuller. And it doesn’t mean that everybody has to go into scholarship as a career, it just functions as an enhancement to that learning process.

RICHARD GALBRAITH: We'll continue to recruit faculty who are committed to both teaching and scholarship, and who want to excel at both. And we'll further our commitment to the model by providing opportunities for faculty members to learn about each other's work, to work collaboratively, and to hone their skills in both of these critically important areas. We want to support the model in every way possible. The

DAVID ROSOWSKY: Teacher-Scholar is part of our culture at UVM, and something that we seek to do better than other universities. Few universities can boast a stronger, more authentic commitment to the Teacher-Scholar model than UVM. This is something that we cherish, nurture, and celebrate every day.