LaGuardia Community College to Host CUNY Graduate Center Doctoral Students

Supported by a $3.15 Grant from the Mellon Foundation, LaGuardia Faculty Will Guide Graduate Center PhD Candidates in Effective Teaching Methods

Long Island City, NY—October 22, 2015—LaGuardia Community College will begin providing professional development in effective teaching techniques for CUNY Graduate Center doctoral candidates. In turn, the doctoral candidates will teach humanities courses for approximately 2,500 undergraduates at LaGuardia. The four and a half year program is supported by a $3.15 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Graduate Center, which was announced earlier this week ( click here to read more).

LaGuardia humanities faculty and the LaGuardia Center for Teaching and Learning will provide mentorship and guidance to the Graduate Center students as they develop a suite of pedagogical skills. The Center provides instruction on the use of evidence-based best practices – e.g., learning through active participation and group work – to facilitate transformative learning. The Graduate Center doctoral students will spend two years at LaGuardia Community College – the first semester they will shadow a master LaGuardia faculty member during course instruction, and then they will spend three semesters teaching humanities courses, while being guided by a master LaGuardia instructor.

“The Center for Teaching and Learning at LaGuardia Community College will do what it does best: effectively guide the development of innovative teaching pedagogies and experiential learning methods,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College. “We’re honored to collaborate with our colleagues across the University on this creative endeavor to strengthen and support humanities education, a vital part of every student’s path to a college degree.”

“This breakthrough partnership with our Graduate Center colleagues represents the expansion of doctoral training to include a much larger focus on the art of teaching,” said Bret Eynon, PhD, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at LaGuardia Community College, who helped write the grant. “It’s exciting to be at the forefront of revamping graduate education in the humanities. We hope this will become a model for graduate programs nationwide. The structured, intensive process that we’ll provide to the Graduate Center students is one that we use with all our faculty. These emerging faculty will come away with an expanded teaching toolbox that they can use in any higher education setting – from a community college such as ours, to a research-driven university.”

“The benefits of this program for LaGuardia’s students are tremendous,” said Howard Wach, PhD, Assistant Dean and Director of the LaGuardia Center for Teaching and Learning. “For the majority of our students who come from families of very limited financial means, exposure to the humanities often matters more – by opening more doors of imagination and possibility—than it does for more privileged students. And the active, collaborative learning methods we support have been shown in research to be even more beneficial with immigrant, lower-income students.”

As noted in the Graduate Center’s news release about the grant, “Studying the humanities has been shown to help students master essential lifelong skills, including critical thinking, creativity, writing, historical perspective, cultural understanding, communication, collaboration, project management, and digital literacy. Yet rarely do graduate humanities programs train students in the most effective ways to teach.

“Through the Mellon grant, Graduate Center students will gain onsite training from LaGuardia mentors and master faculty, while LaGuardia students will benefit from inspiring teaching and resources for cultural enrichment. A select group of LaGuardia students will be offered opportunities to become peer mentors, enhancing the likelihood of success for both the mentors and those they support, as research shows. The grant will also fund a substantial online community platform and two post-doctoral fellowships to research humanities education and digital scholarly communication.”

Known as the Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance, the program aims to increase retention and graduation rates for community college students, while opening pathways to potential advanced degrees in the humanities.

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About LaGuardia Community College

LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at a rate 20% higher than the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curricula and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.