By David Porreca Thirteen senior professors will serve as inaugural members of the UI's Teaching Advancement Board, a faculty panel created to enhance teaching at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The board will provide guidance and focus to campuswide efforts to strengthen the UI's commitment to teaching, said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Larry R. Faulkner. According to Faulkner, the board will serve three main functions: to think creatively about ways to improve teaching; to institute a grants program for innovative course development and an awards program for excellence in teaching; and to attract funding from outside sources to support further instructional development and innovation. "This campus has had a successful Research Board for decades aimed at enhancing research," Faulkner said. "The Teaching Advancement Board is envisioned as a teaching analogue to the Research Board." The board, which grew out of a proposal in the UI's recently published strategic plan, "A Framework for the Future," will be chaired by Hassan Aref, head of the theoretical and applied mechanics department. "It could be the place that nurtures teaching on the campus," Aref said. "Our task is to be visionary, to think about teaching, to develop good ideas about how to make teaching a more integral part of the life of the faculty member and not just an assignment." In Aref's view, the board's creation has come at just the right time, given public concerns about the place of teaching at major universities. "The research university is increasingly coming under fire for concentrating on research and having teaching done by second-string help," he said. "I think that's less true here than elsewhere, but we need to think about that. We have for a long time assumed that excellence in research implied excellence in teaching. It's clear that the correlation is not always perfect. These are things we have to wrestle with." The board is expected to hold its first meeting before the end of the spring semester. When the new academic year begins in the fall, the board will meet monthly, Faulkner said. Its activities during the coming year will include establishing an inventory of teaching development activities on campus; reviewing the programs used to train teaching assistants; examining methods for evaluating teaching; overseeing existing programs that recognize teaching excellence; developing a grant program for instructional development projects; and establishing a policy on the size of large classes. In addition to Aref, the board members are May R. Berenbaum, entomology; James A. Gentry, finance; David C. Grove, anthropology; Achsah Guibbory, English; Violet J. Harris, curriculum and instruction; Steven J. Helle, journalism; Joanna H. Maclay, speech communication; Burks Oakley II, electrical and computer engineering; Allan J. Paul, veterinary pathobiology; Shelly J. Schmidt, food science and human nutrition; Ira Solomon, accountancy; and Christopher D. Wickens, aviation.