The Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning has appointed Mary Wright, current director of assessment and associate research scientist at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan, as its new director, wrote Dean of the College Maud Mandel in a community-wide email Monday.
Wright’s appointment marks the conclusion of a nationwide search following the departure of previous director Kathy Takayama in late August.
According to Mandel, Wright stood out among a large pool of candidates in her expertise and managerial experience. Wright has worked in leadership roles at the University of Michigan’s pedagogy center for over 13 years and is also president-elect of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.
The Sheridan Center finds itself in a period of transition as it looks to broaden its focus on student learning, Mandel said. This transition will be the first of a series of tasks Wright will take on as director.
Wright “will be helping to expand (the Sheridan Center’s) reach into the undergraduate population and helping us to construct the new learning commons that we’re looking forward to building,” Mandel said. “I think she’ll be a helpful partner in thinking about what that will look like and developing that over time.”
Wright will start July 18, according to Mandel’s email. In the summer leading up to the 2016-2017 academic year, she will work in tandem with the Sheridan Center’s interim director, Sharon Swartz, who plans to acquaint Wright with the Brown community and the Sheridan Center’s standards of operation.
Despite the fact that the University of Michigan differs from Brown in a variety of ways related to both size and structure, Wright said she does not expect her work to be radically different from what she has done at Michigan.
According to Swartz, “The skills and approaches that she’s developed at Michigan that really matter are going to transfer to Brown.” Both Swartz and Mandel pointed to Wright’s communication and leadership talent as unwavering strengths that can carry over from school to school. “I think she will make this transition with as little trouble as anybody I can think of,” Swartz said.
Wright said that she “looks forward to the challenges of working on a new campus and in particular building the learning commons in a way that brings value to students … and to faculty for their teaching.”
Swartz, who was a part of the selection committee, expressed confidence that Wright is the right choice, describing her as “an unbelievably talented person who has a real depth of experience in a whole variety of areas that are central to the mission of an entity like the Sheridan Center.” The search committee agreed unanimously on Wright as their first choice candidate from the final pool of four candidates, Swartz said.
“We’re extremely fortunate that she is coming here. The University of Michigan tried really hard to keep her,” Swartz added.