March 2004


MIAMI, March 1/PRNewswire/ - TIAA-CREF, the premier retirement system for higher education and research employees, today announced Barnard College is the recipient of the 2004 Theodore M. Hesburgh Award, which recognizes innovative undergraduate faculty development programs. The independent liberal arts college for women will be honored during a special presentation today at the American Council on Education's annual meeting in Miami Beach, Florida.

Established in 1993 by TIAA-CREF to recognize faculty development programs that enhance undergraduate teaching and learning, the Hesburgh Award is named in honor of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame.

Barnard College was chosen as this year's Hesburgh winner for it's innovative education program, Reacting to the Past, which challenges students through intense role-playing games to debate the ideas and politics of great figures from the past, such as Socrates and Gandhi.

"We are proud to honor Barnard College for its innovation in undergraduate teaching and its long tradition of excellence in liberal arts and sciences education for women," said Herbert M. Allison, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of TIAA-CREF. "Our company's service to higher education affords us the opportunity to recognize the truly innovative work being done on campuses and in classrooms."

Judith R. Shapiro, President of Barnard College, accepted the award at today's ceremony: "We are truly honored to accept the Hesburgh Award, and proud to be recognized for this creative initiative to help our students more fully understand civilizations and peoples far different from their own."

Nine judges with highly distinguished backgrounds in higher education reviewed the entries and unanimously selected Reacting to the Past as the winner.

Reacting to the Past

Founded in 1995 by Mark C. Carnes, Barnard Professor of History, Reacting to the Past began as a way of breathing new life into Barnard's first-year general education seminar. Carnes had grown dismayed by his students' failure to engage with important historical texts, and reconfigured his seminar as a series of elaborate month-long role-playing games whose rules replicate pivotal historical moments. During the games, students were assigned roles dealing with turning points in history, such as Athens' defeat following the Peloponnesian War and India's attainment of independence in 1945.

The program was such a success on campus that more than a dozen Barnard faculty members adopted it for their own first-year seminars. Evaluations of the program concluded that Reacting students were found to have acquired considerably stronger speaking skills and a heightened ability to empathize with different cultures and peoples. In addition, Reacting students experienced a statistically significant increase in grade-point average in subsequent years.

"I found that the program generates an astonishing intensity that spills into the dorms after class," said Carnes. "It appeals to the students' imagination while challenging them emotionally and intellectually."

The success of Reacting to the Past isn't going unnoticed by Barnard College's peers either. Over the last two years faculty and administrators at colleges nationwide have adopted the program for their students as well. In fact, Reacting to the Past has become so popular that colleges in Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Texas have formed a consortium with Barnard to share ideas and results.

Hesburgh Certificates of Excellence Winners

In addition to the Hesburgh Award winner, two institutions were selected to receive Theodore M. Hesburgh Certificates of Excellence for meritorious faculty development programs. They include:

* Fiorello H. LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY) for Designed for Learning, a program created to help faculty use interactive digital technology to engage students; advance their academic success; and enhance their ability to work, think and lead.

* UCLA, for its Freshman Cluster Program, which helps new students gain the academic skills and broad perspective needed to succeed in a large research university.

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