HERI Praises Undergraduate Education at Carnegie Mellon
Carnegie Mellon is one of three private universities in the country that has made the most significant improvements in its undergraduate education programs. So says the prestigious Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, which compared data from the late 1980s to 2000 at 117 colleges and universities nationwide.
"At Carnegie Mellon, raised consciousness among campus personnel about the process of undergraduate teaching and learning was the most notable institutional change between 1989 and 1998," the HERI report said. "A relatively daunting set of challenges sparked a period of reflection among faculty and administrators on the fundamental nature and purpose of undergraduate education. The process of self-reflection ultimately served to mobilize the campus communities."
HERI's study included interviews with more than 70 students, faculty and staff. Students reported that they were significantly more satisfied with faculty, the curriculum and their overall college experience. Some of the adjectives they used to describe a Carnegie Mellon education were "empowering," "intense," "first-rate" and "entrepreneurial."
"It is gratifying, to say the least, to have such a well respected external group judge Carnegie Mellon as one of a handful of universities to have made such positive and creative steps forward in undergraduate education during the past decade," said Provost Mark Kamlet.
"We often take for granted how hard Carnegie Mellon faculty and administrators work, each and every day, to enhance the educational experience of our students in and out of the classroom. It's heartening to have objective data about the impacts these efforts are having."
The institute cited several university initiatives, including its undergraduate research program, an improved integration of students' academic and co-curricular experiences, and student-centered curriculum development.
HERI praised the university for its "commitment to delivering distinctive and first-rate education," for "fostering research, creativity and discovery," and for "using the new knowledge created on campus to serve the larger society."
HERI's report also noted Carnegie Mellon's "commitment to self-critique," and its "on-going responsiveness to the needs of its constituents." The study lauded the university for "well-established and well-maintained lines of communication between faculty, administrators and student affairs professionals," and its "commitment to both autonomy and collaboration."
How was Carnegie Mellon able to move forward so significantly?
"Carnegie Mellon has been successfully responsive to the challenges of the last decade largely because of the people who comprise the institution and the trust they have in themselves and in each other," the institute said.
"There were many people singled out in the report, including past presidents Richard Cyert and Robert Mehrabian, Associate Provost Barbara Lazarus and Dean of Student Affairs Michael Murphy," said President Jared L. Cohon, who called the HERI report a nice, thoughtful and in-depth pat on the back. "I thank them all, as well as many others, who, in the best Carnegie Mellon tradition, brought innovation and collaboration to the ongoing change and improvement of our university, a process that continues today."
This Issue's Headlines || Carnegie Mellon News Home || Carnegie Mellon Home