By Ellie Schuckman
Often ranked as one of the of the top schools in the north region, the College was recently recognized nationally for its undergraduate research efforts.
The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) named the College as a national exemplar, highlighting campus efforts and resources devoted to such studies. As a recipient of the Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment (AURA), the College is just one of three schools in the nation to walk away with the honor.
“The College of New Jersey is honored to be recognized by CUR as a national exemplar in undergraduate research,” College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said in the press release. “Over the last two decades, we have been committed to making student-faculty engagement and research central to our undergraduate experience. Our success, as reflected in this award, is a testament to the collective effort at TCNJ to integrate high-impact learning practices into the fabric of the institution with faculty who are recognized as teacher-scholars.”
The award notes institutions that have “devised exemplary programs providing high-quality research experiences to undergraduates,” according to cur.org. Though it was the first year the award has been given out, nearly 50 applicants sought for recognition.
According to the same site, the award is modeled after the Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, a document detailing necessary criteria for “exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity programs.”
In information posted on the College’s website, the school’s “history and strong institutional commitment to undergraduate research dates back to 1997.” Then, new programs were instituted with the goal of promoting a “culture that is grounded in student engagement, undergraduate research and the teacher-scholar faculty model.”
Six years later, in 2003, the College began a shift in the curriculum, encouraging faculty to take risks in their research and teaching styles that would then benefit the students.
According to insidehighered. com, faculty members at the College say they are credited for how much work they do, unlike their peers elsewhere. In turn, such recognition encourages them to take those risks to help their students.
“By moving undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity from the periphery to the center, our curricula and faculty workload structure were re-defined to incorporate undergraduate research,” Dean of the School of Science Jeffrey Osborn said, according to tcnj.edu. “TCNJ’s emphasis on undergraduate research and the teacher-scholar model is an innovative exemplar of how to integrate teaching and scholarship in higher education.”
The College joins both Allegheny College and George Mason University as recipients of the award, having taken home tophonors exemplifying the teacherscholar model at the Master’s Level. Allegheny won the award as a leading Baccalaureate College and George Mason won as a leading Research University.
All awardees will be honored on Jan. 22, 2016, during the CUR Executive Board reception at the American Association of Colleges and Universities annual meeting in Washington, D.C.