2013 Symposium Speakers

William Durden, PhD - President, Dickinson College

B.A.: German and philosophy, Dickinson College, 1971
M.A.:  German language and literature, Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D.: German language and literature, Johns Hopkins University

William G. Durden has been president of Dickinson College since 1999. Before accepting his current responsibilities, Dr. Durden was a member of the German Department at the Johns Hopkins University and Executive Director of the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) for 16 years. During his Hopkins’ engagement, he was also a senior education consultant to the U.S. Department of State for 11 years and chaired the Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth. 

Directly prior to coming to Dickinson College, Dr. Durden was simultaneously president of a division of the Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. (today Laureate Education, Inc.) and vice president of academic affairs for the Caliber Learning Network—originally a joint venture of MCI and Sylvan. 

Dr. Durden received his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in German and philosophy and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in German Language and Literature from the Johns Hopkins University. Directly following his graduation from Dickinson, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Basle, Switzerland. He has also studied at the University of Freiburg and the University of Muenster, Germany. 

Dr. Durden currently serves as chair of the advisory board of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (the Senior Fulbright program) and as a member of the board of trustees of the Institute of International Education (IIE). He is a board member of Walden University and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, for-profit higher education institutions, and a director of MERITAS (Sterling Partners). He also serves on the Washington Center’s Council of Presidents. During 2007-08, Dr. Durden chaired the subcommittee of the Annapolis Group (120 of America’s leading liberal arts colleges) charged with offering an alternative to the U.S. NEWS rankings. He chaired the recent Middle States accreditation of West Point and just served on an external task force to revise the West Point curriculum to meet future demands on its graduates.  

Dr. Durden has published and spoken widely on topics such as literary criticism, gifted and talented education, foreign language study, technology and instruction, U.S. and international education policy and theory (at the school and university levels), leadership, and democracy in education.

Keynote Address: "Just do Science": A Liberal-Arts College Perspective on Teaching the Sciences to Undergraduates
The liberal arts college might offer major research universities ideas to advance their respective undergraduate science curricula. This speech offers suggestions from the perspective of a representative liberal-arts college and extends the influence of practices to the entire college. Suggestions are also advanced for adapting practice to an institution like Johns Hopkins.

Daphne Koller, PhD -  Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University; Co-Founder and co-CEO of Coursera

B.Sc.: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1985
M.Sc.: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1986
Ph.D.: Stanford University, 1993

Daphne Koller is the Rajeev Motwani Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University and the co-founder of Coursera, a social entrepreneurship company that works with top universities to make the best education accessible to everyone around the world, for free.  In her research life, Daphne works in the area of machine learning and probabilistic modeling, with applications to computer vision, systems biology, and personalized medicine.  She is the author of over 200 refereed publications in venues that span a range of disciplines, and has given over a dozen keynote talks at major conferences.  She is the recipient of many awards, which include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the ACM/Infosys award, and membership in the National Academy of Engineering. She is also an award winning teacher, who pioneered in her Stanford class many of the ideas that underlie the Coursera user experience.

Keynote Address: The Online Revolution: Education for Everyone [prepared with Andrew Ng]
We are at the cusp of a major transformation in higher education.  In the past year, we have seen the advent of MOOCs - massively open online classes (MOOCs) - top-quality courses from the best universities offered for free.  These courses exploit technology to provide a real course experience to students, including video content, interactive exercises with meaningful feedback, using both auto-grading and peer-grading, and rich peer-to-peer interaction around the course materials.  We now see MOOCs from dozens of top universities, offering courses to millions of students from every country in the world.  The courses start from bridge/gateway courses all the way through graduate courses, and span a range of topics including computer science, business, medicine, science, humanities, social sciences, and more.  In this talk, I'll report on this far-reaching experiment in education, including some examples and preliminary analytics.  I'll also discuss why we believe this model can support an improved learning experience for on-campus students, via blended learning, and provide unprecedented access to education to millions of students around the world.

Robin Wright, PhD - Associate Dean and Professor of Biology, University of Minnesota

B.S.: University of Georgia
PhD: Genetics and Cell Biology, Carnegie-Mellon University, 1984

Robin Wright is Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research program has focused on the genetics and physiology of sterol biosynthesis and cold adaptation in yeast. She is currently working exclusively on undergraduate education research and initiatives. Over the past 21 years, she has mentored more than 100 undergraduate researchers. Prof. Wright has experience teaching both large and small classes, including freshman seminars, large introductory biology courses, and skill-oriented courses for honors students. The University of Washington, her previous institution, recognized her teaching innovations with a university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award.

Her major goal as Associate Dean is to catalyze the development of the nation’s best biology curriculum, including biology courses that apply principles of active learning, research, and engagement. She helped to develop and co-teaches in an orientation/enrichment course required for all 450 incoming freshmen in the college. She has also been a leader in development of Foundations of Biology, an innovative, team-based introductory biology course for biological sciences majors. Prof. Wright has served on the Education Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology and was formerly the chair of the Education Committee for the Genetics Society of America. In addition, she served as an editor and senior editor of the Journal: Life Science Education. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the HHMI/National Academies of Science-sponsored Summer Institute on Biology Education, and has served as a mentor and presenter at each annual workshop since the first one in 2003. She is currently the founding editor of a new biology education journal, CourseSource, which will publish biology curriculum materials that are linked to learning outcomes established by biological sciences professional societies. In 2012, she was named as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keynote Address: Teach what really matters; use what really works
What do we really want our students to learn?  What scientifically validated approaches can help us achieve these goals?   In this seminar, we’ll explore our teaching goals and how changes in our classrooms can help more students achieve those goals.  Specifically, we will review how scientific approaches that apply the physiology of learning can profoundly increase our effectiveness as teachers.  Along the way, we’ll touch on our essential and enduring roles in higher education.