Gift from Chamberlins Launches Center for Teaching Excellence

Steve and Susan Chamberlin, MBA 87, former members of the Haas School professional faculty, have invested $750,000 to launch the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) at Haas.

The center is being created to promote teaching of the highest quality, to foster a teaching culture, and to deliver exceptional instruction to students. The center will provide resources and services to professional and research faculty at Haas.

"Teaching has the single biggest impact on the quality of our students’ experience," says Dean Rich Lyons. "The Center for Teaching Excellence is an important part of our strategic plan to ensure that the educational experience for students is stronger than ever."

"The Center for Teaching Excellence will enable Haas to provide professional development for our instructors and a variety of other resources to help our teachers get even better," adds Jay Stowsky, senior assistant dean for instruction.

CTE's core initiatives will include a three-day orientation for all new instructors every July, starting this year; personal and confidential coaching services for instructors; a mentoring program called Excellence Exchange for early-stage instructors; and continuous learning events, including structured workshops targeted at improving a specific aspect of teaching, such as engaging students using wikis and blogs or having difficult conversations with students.

In addition to CTE staff, speakers from the broader UC Berkeley campus, Haas veteran faculty members, and professional educators will play a role in delivering the content for the center's events and programs.

The goals of CTE resonated with the Chamberlins because of their own experiences in the classroom.

"Teaching was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. No matter how well you know your material, teaching keeps you right on the edge of your comfort zone — students are constantly challenging you for the answers,” Steve Chamberlin says while recalling his 15 years as an adjunct professor in the Real Estate Group. "By supporting the Center for Teaching Excellence, we are committed to providing teachers with the resources they need to succeed at this difficult mission."

Having co-taught with her husband for several years at Haas, Susan Chamberlin has her own perspective. She believes that to become an excellent teacher, an individual must have the desire to improve, and be able to accept and use feedback in a constructive way.

The thinking behind CTE is that if all professors have the resources needed to support their teaching efforts, students will engage more fully in their classes. “The goal is to get students excited about learning and to prepare them effectively for doing business in the real world,” concludes Steve Chamberlin, who also mentors students as a member of the policy advisory board for the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics.

Steve Chamberlin currently is chairman of Chamberlin Associates, a commercial real estate development firm based in Pleasanton, Calif., and Rouse/Chamberlin Homes, a Pennsylvania-based home builder. In addition to earning her MBA from Haas, Susan Chamberlin is an architect and is currently managing the renovation of the Oakland Museum of California as a member of the museum's board of trustees.