Passion for Learning

Michelle Pautz has a self-described passion for learning that she hopes to instill in University of Dayton undergraduate students in her new role as assistant provost for the Common Academic Program.

Pautz, associate professor of political science, started her initial four-year term July 1. She succeeds the program’s first assistant provost, associate professor of school psychology Sawyer Hunley, who served seven years in that role.

The foundation of a University of Dayton education, the Common Academic Program is a portion of the curriculum shared by all undergraduate students, regardless of their major, to help them understand the importance of integrating knowledge within and across disciplines.

“Whether you are an electrical engineering student, a marketing student or a communication student, you have some common experiences and we cultivate a desire and a passion for learning that we hope stays with our students long after they leave the University,” Pautz said.

Launched in fall 2013 and now offering more than 400 CAP-designated courses, the program introduces important topics and addresses them across a wide range of academic disciplines. The goal is to help students synthesize diverse points of view and examine issues critically, yet with an open mind.

Pautz said the program is part of what makes University of Dayton graduates distinct.

“Many of the courses associated with CAP had to be developed from the ground up,” she said. “When we reevaluated our general education program here almost 10 years ago, it wasn’t: ‘Let’s just scrap one course checklist for another checklist.’ It was, how do we build developmental experiences for our students so that we move them from Point A to Point B, or however you want to look at it, by the time they are done?”

The College of Arts and Sciences offers the majority of CAP courses from across its arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences divisions. The University’s undergraduate professional schools also offer a growing number of CAP courses.

Pautz would like to continue to break down academic unit silos to encourage more faculty to work with colleagues from across campus to enhance their own learning and to promote learning among undergraduate students.

“Some of the best experiences I’ve had in the classroom have been team-teaching and working with other faculty,” she said.

Her goals as assistant provost include promoting CAP both on campus and beyond as an important source of the University’s unique educational identity, advocating for assessment-driven improvement of CAP courses and experiences, and increasing faculty interest in developing CAP course proposals.

“A significant focus of Michelle’s work over the next four years will be to sustain the creativity and vitality of faculty contributions to CAP,” said Deb Bickford, associate provost for academic affairs and learning initiatives.

Bickford praised Pautz’s leadership skills as director of the department of political science’s Master of Public Administration program and as co-chair of the University’s “strategic vision” steering committee during the 2016-17 academic year. “These collaborative experiences will position her well to work with faculty across campus to identify and develop curricular links to CAP,” Bickford said.

Pautz said she was honored to co-chair the strategic visioning process with Provost Paul Benson. The year-long process in advance of President Eric Spina’s April 2017 inauguration generated a wealth of creative ideas about how to maintain the heart and soul of the University while aspiring for greater excellence.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to be of service to the institution and to take a step back and think about what is it that I want, what is that we all want our University to be?” she said.

Pautz holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, political science and public administration from Elon University, and master’s and doctorate degrees in public administration, both from Virginia Tech. She joined the University of Dayton faculty in 2008 and teaches and conducts research in environmental policy and regulation, government reform and accountability, and film and politics.

She is the 2016 recipient of the Alumni Award for Faculty Teaching.

In addition to her new responsibilities, Pautz will teach two courses during the coming academic year — an MPA course during the fall semester and an undergraduate environmental policy course, POL 371, in the spring.

“I’m proud to say POL 371 is a CAP class,” she said.

For more information about the Common Academic Program, please visit the program’s website.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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