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Dr. A. Wade Boykin

Dr. Orlando Taylor
March 2005

While Dr. Orlando Taylor carries the title of Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, he states that his most cherished title is Professor of Communication: “I am first and foremost a member of the faculty who has simply had the privilege of providing service to the university and its faculty and students through the execution of my administrative responsibilities.”  As a professor of communication, he is well-known for his pioneering scholarship in the fields of communication disorders, linguistics, and intercultural communication.  However, as an administrator, he has become a national leader in graduate education. He has also become a national spokesperson for preparing the next generation of college and university faculty members and for enhancing access and equity in higher education.
As Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Taylor established the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Program in the Graduate School in 1994.  A nationally recognized and acclaimed program, Howard’s PFF program prepares students to enter the nation's professoriate, presenting an integrated view of the roles of a professional academic through the following activities:

Two years ago, as part of his effort to prepare future faculty, Dr. Taylor launched a Blackboard forum with online chat and whiteboard sessions to engage graduate students in discussions about teaching in the online environment.  “In the online environment,” he observes, “we engage the Socratic method of having a series of questions we want the students to answer.  By using key readings in a subject area, we challenge students to submit questions that they think are relevant to the subject matter in a given week. After reviewing these questions, they are submitted to a larger group of students in a class for further discussion, which we carefully guide to make sure the important points of each question are dissected throughout the life of each (discussion board) thread. We also have the students use what they learn about the online environment, pertaining to usability and accessibility, to design a syllabus and one interactive class section for potential students in their subject area.”

Dr. A. Wade BoykinAnother initiative that Dr. Taylor introduced to Howard is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).  SoTL embodies the scholarly and intellectual pursuit of teaching and learning: professors strive toward excellence in their teaching and monitoring of students; students, in turn, focus on scholarly expertise and research.  Thus, SoTL emphasizes the interconnectedness of teaching and research.  “Teaching informs research and vice versa. . . ,” Dr. Taylor explains.  “I believe that students should be engaged in solving problems and that learning should direct them toward finding solutions to real world problems. Moreover, I believe that scholarly teaching requires continuous and ongoing data collection, analysis, and reflection leading eventually to changes in teaching, assessment, and student engagement.”
To advance SoTL, Dr. Taylor and some of his colleagues acquired a grant from the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).  Entitled “Learning Communities for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academic Achievement,” the project reflects Taylor’s philosophy “that everybody in the classroom is a student, including the professor.   All participants can learn from other members of the classroom community. Likewise, in a classroom, everyone is a teacher. Everyone has a potential contribution to make to the understanding of truth and the creation of knowledge.”  Thus, he states, “I view my role as ‘professor’ as one of facilitator, rather than one of the all- knowing authority. My responsibility is to guide students toward their discovery of knowledge.  The classroom, in other words, should be a true learning community where all members are simultaneously teaching and learning.”
Over the years, Dr. Taylor has earned numerous awards for his contributions to teaching, including Howard’s Distinguished Faculty Award and Yale University’s Bouchet Medal for Leadership in Minority Graduate Education.   Recently, he received the annual National Communication Association (NCA) Mentor Award for teaching, scholarship, and leadership that “have had a profound influence on the discipline.”

 

 

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