Take It to Harte W&L’s new student and faculty resource center, located within Leyburn Library, opened this fall.
The Houston H. Harte Center for Teaching and Learning opened this fall and now buzzes with activity from morning to night. Classes, seminars and conversations fill Level 1 of Leyburn Library, which underwent a 12-month renovation to create the new space.
In alignment with the university’s Strategic Plan, the Harte Center helps define a 21st-century liberal arts education, building upon W&L’s distinctive curricular structure to support innovative teaching and student success.
Its full spectrum of resources includes a communications and tutoring suite, video studio, collaboration gallery, innovation lab and teaching hub — all focused on supporting faculty development and student learning.
“One of the most powerful tools in learning, whether as a faculty member or student, is the opportunity to articulate ideas and knowledge to others,” said Paul Hanstedt, director of the Harte Center. “This open and flexible space allows a range of conversations and innovations, from intimate small-group discussions to large, campus-wide poster sessions, readings, lectures or film series.”
During Fall Term, Hanstedt has watched interactions among the W&L community blossom through initiatives like a revamped peer tutoring program under the direction of Cassie Robinson ’23, peer tutor coordinator, and Adam Scales, assistant director of academic resources.
“For years the peer tutoring program has been an asset to the institution,” said Hanstedt, “but one of the main challenges was how those students were trained. Cassie and Adam were able to utilize the space and the resources in the center to provide a more comprehensive approach to the training process. Since September, the program has gone from functional to robust.”
The Harte Center also focuses on faculty pedagogy, access to the latest information on learning and training in best practices. Hanstedt noted that student-faculty interactions in the classroom have changed. Students are no longer passive learners but are engaged in experiential-learning environments that foster thinking critically and across disciplines. “Faculty are exploring new teaching strategies, and bringing them together to share what is and isn’t working in the classroom provides a valuable opportunity to learn from one another. Instead of nine people all reinventing the wheel, we are connecting the dots.”
He added, “We care deeply about teaching at W&L. But part of what makes us good teachers is not only that we do the teaching, we think about the teaching. We reflect on the teaching. We talk about it with each other.”
The center’s location in the academic heart of campus makes it a natural meeting spot for the W&L community.
“What makes the Harte Center unique is its focus on both students and faculty,” said Hanstedt. “We can pull together resources for these groups in ways other institutions of higher learning can’t. We’re recognizing the potential, the possibilities and the ways we can build programs that don’t just meet our needs but meet them in a way that allows us to be a leader in this area.”
Gift of Learning
In addition to the Harte Center receiving a generous bequest from Houston H. Harte ’50, the Class of 1995 directed part of its 25th reunion gift to endow the center’s teaching hub, and classmates and friends of Kathy Boozer Boone ’95 raised funds to name a room in the Harte Center in her honor.
Take a look inside. Click here to view the slideshow.