Posts from January, 2012
Rebecca Tucker, associate professor of art at Colorado College, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Ray O. Werner Award for Exemplary Teaching in the Liberal Arts.
Tucker earns the respect of students and colleagues for her impressive scholarship, her infectious enthusiasm for teaching, and her patience and ability to challenge students. Her engaging approach to teaching distinguishes Tucker as an exemplary professor, and her efforts are central to sustaining a rich and innovating intellectual climate at Colorado College.
In the years following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College in 1988, Tucker pursued a M.A. in the history of art from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, beginning what has proven to be a highly productive scholarly career. She concluded her education by receiving a Ph.D. in art history, also from NYU, and quickly pursued teaching.
Tucker was an instructor at both Skidmore College and the University of Denver before ultimately joining the Colorado College art department as an assistant professor in 2006.
Within art history, Tucker specializes in Renaissance and Baroque art of Northern Europe. Tucker has excelled as a professor who provides a stimulating academic environment for students. Students praise Tucker’s deep knowledge of art and her passion for the subject, which permeate each lecture. In an effort to enliven her classes, Tucker emphasizes student collaboration and discussion. Integrating new technology, group learning, and problem-based methods in her lessons are only a few examples of the ways in which Tucker continually engages students. Described as a “consistently innovative” professor, she experiments with fresh approaches and types of projects that students find instructional, challenging, and enjoyable. For Tucker’s students, research assignments have been known to range from straightforward essays, to art exhibition construction and explanations, to writing theses or mock textbook chapters.
As an advisor, Tucker devotes ample time to developing students’ interests in art, their academic work, and their lives. Students enthusiastically respond as she makes herself an easily accessible resource.
Though Tucker sees teaching as the core of her career, her personal scholarship is notable. She has produced valuable research in art history and has filled a void in her field by primarily focusing on courtly environments of the 17th century in Northern Europe. She often explores the “whys” of art history by examining the commissioning and ownership of art, and how it is displayed and arranged, to reveal social and ideological agendas. As her CV indicates, she has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews, and a book titled “Secrets and Symbols: Decoding the Great Masters.” Tucker recently completed a sabbatical, which she spent largely in Amsterdam conducting research to revise and polish a book manuscript on courtly patronage of Dutch art that is currently under consideration at Penn State Press.
Tucker also has been a powerful force in a variety of programs at the college. Her work on the Cornerstone Arts Committee, and in particular, on the IDEA Space, draws uniform praise. Since 2006, she has had ongoing involvement with the Children’s Center Committee, and currently sits on the Center’s Building Committee. She also has been instrumental to the art department, facilitating its use of technology and developing new courses. Tucker is both dependable and thorough in her departmental service, and as a result, colleagues often want to collaborate with her on reports, committees, and teaching courses.
In the words of the former art department chair, “Tucker’s excellence as a teacher and scholar, as well as her initiative, competence, and community spirit are exemplary.” She is a professor who strives to maintain the type of learning environment to which Professor Werner was committed. Her talents echo Professor Werner’s ability to inspire students, collaborate with colleagues, continue research, and maintain an involved presence in the wider community.
Tucker is the third recipient of the award, joining Associate Political Science Professor John Gould, and Associate Biology Professor Brian Linkhart. The award is named after Ray O. Werner, an economics professor from 1948 to 1987 who lived his conviction that teaching in the liberal arts should focus on the whole person, and that a liberal arts education should yield a refined, broadly educated human being. Tucker was selected because she vividly exemplifies the art of teaching.
There’s a growing rock pile at Colorado College, and it’s not on any quad, field, or building site.
The pile of rocks is mounting outside the Human Resources office, and HR anticipates it will continue to grow. The rocks are part of a new program called “You Rock!”, an initiative launched in late fall as a way for employees to show appreciation for one another.
HR staff members quietly kicked off the program by distributing a total of 11 small rocks with the words “You Rock” to CC employees HR wanted to recognize. The rocks didn’t necessarily go to people visible to everyone on campus. Often it is the quiet people working in their offices who get the work done and made a positive difference and contribution to the college.
The “You Rock” program is aimed at boosting employee morale and demonstrates just one way to show appreciation for others. It’s a way of telling people, “I’ve noticed the good job you’re doing, and what you’ve done for CC.”
“You Rock!” is designed to be a peer-to-peer recognition program, one that takes place at the grassroots level and proceeds at its own pace.
Recipients of the rock are given instructions: They become the “Keeper of the Rock” for two weeks and are encouraged to display the rock on their desk, bookshelf, or other work visible places where colleagues will notice. After two weeks, they are to pass the “You Rock!” rock on to someone else, and to either write a note or tell the recipient why he or she is being recognized.
When HR is notified that the rock has been passed on, the new recipient’s name is added to the “You Rock” wall of fame featuring a photo display of rock recipients outside the human resource office on the third floor of the Spencer Building.
To date, “You Rock” recipients are:
Joycelin Randle, Colorado College’s new associate director of employer relations, doesn’t get jobs for CC students. Instead, she cultivates relationships with alumni, parents, and employers regarding internships and entry-level positions, passes information along to students, and helps position them as front-runners for potential employment. Randle searches out job prospects, but when opportunity knocks, it’s the students who get up and open the door.
The career center position was revamped when the former associate director of the career center retired last summer. Randle, who started in August 2011, says the job is less that of a counselor; indeed, the position’s new name reflects the emphasis on building employer relations, with a large part of the job being outreach and networking in order to better assist CC students in identifying and securing jobs and internships. Randle is developing relationships through email, telephone calls, and in-person visits, working closely with the development office and the office of alumni and parent relations.
She also accompanied President Jill Tiefenthaler on several trips to visit alumni and parents as part of the new president’s “year of listening” tour. Recently, Randle traveled to the Bay Area where she met with alumni in diverse fields – marketing/advertising, health care, and financial investing – to explore internships and employment opportunities for CC students. She also encourages parents, alumni, and employers to visit campus for job fairs and recruiting lunches. “My job is to meet people and talk to them, and get them excited about CC and CC students,” Randle said. “It’s great.”
Originally from North Little Rock, Ark., Randle comes to Colorado College by way of Vanderbilt University’s law school – where she was both a student and an employee. She graduated cum laude from Arkansas State University with a major in speech communication and a minor in political science. During her sophomore year in college, she decided she wanted to go to law school, so she printed a list of the top 20 law schools in the country and stuck it above her bed. “I told myself, ‘this is what I’m going to do’,” she said.
At Vanderbilt Law School she received several awards, including being honored as Outstanding Graduate/Professional Student. During the summer of 2005 she interned at Fredrikson and Byron, a law firm in Minneapolis that specializes in civil and commercial real estate litigation. Upon graduation the following year, she went to work for them as an associate.
However, she soon discovered that working in a high-powered law firm was not what she wanted. “It was eye-opening,” she said. “It was not what I expected.” She left the law firm after two years, and went to clerk for a judge in Hennepin County, Minn. “There I was in the courtroom every day,” she said.
In the meantime, her mentor at the law firm continued to work with her, pointing out that Randle was outgoing and good with people, and Randle eventually realized that she wanted to be in higher education. She had stayed in touch with friends and administrators at Vanderbilt, and knowing the importance of networking, she put the word out that she was eager to get into career services. It wasn’t long before Vanderbilt called, offering her a position as a career advisor at the law school.
“It was the perfect job,” Randle said. She developed relationships between Vanderbilt and state courts, contacted judges throughout the U.S. about job opportunities for students, and built awareness of state court clerkship positions. There was only one drawback: Her husband, Casell, who she met in Minneapolis 48 hours before she started her job at the law firm, worked for Cargill. He and Randle, who were married in March 2010, hoped he would be transferred to Nashville; instead, Casell was transferred to Colorado.
“I’m living proof that informational interviews and networking pay off,” Randle says. She networked purposefully, seeking to get a position in Colorado. Randle was primarily interested in the University of Denver and spoke with potential employers at both the graduate school and law school. However, nothing happened for months, and in the meantime, she interviewed at Colorado College. Randle eventually was interviewed by DU, but it was too late: CC offered her the job the day after her DU interview.
Randle’s educational experience has been at universities, not a small liberal arts college. “I’m having fun learning the many areas students can go into,” she says. “I enjoy meeting alumni who have done so many things with their education – first they study English, then they travel, then they start a business, for example. It says a lot about the flexibility of a liberal arts education.” She also touts the Block Plan to potential employers, telling them if they want a task completed well and quickly, to hire students who have studied on the Block Plan. “These students know how to get it done,” she said.
Randle has put her time as an attorney to good use. She just completed the first draft of a book titled “What You Should Know Before You go to Law School” and is getting ready to send it to her twin sister, a Ph.D. candidate in urban education policy at Rutgers University, for a first reading. She also has a younger sister, who is studying to be a nurse in Arkansas.
While living in Minnesota, Randle was active with Hands on Twin Cities, a nonprofit that promotes volunteerism in a wide variety of areas, and with Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, designed to increase diversity in the legal community. Both she and her husband also were active with Big Brothers, Big Sisters (Randle started with the organization while still in law school), and they hope to continue volunteering with the organization in Colorado Springs.