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Building a Center of Excellence

Dr. Traci Freeman
Passionate about supporting both students and faculty, Dr. Traci Freeman reflects on her first year as inaugural Dean of the Endicott Center for Teaching & Learning.
By: Madison Schulman

Dr. Traci Freeman is not only passionate about teaching and learning, she also believes that both are “skills to be cultivated, rather than innate gifts.”

In her first year at the College, Freeman, the inaugural Dean of the Endicott Center for Teaching & Learning (ECTL), has already made profound transformations and enhanced educational access for both students and faculty.

She centralized the Division of Academic Success, the Van Loan Division of Professional Studies, and Prior Learning Assessment, and has created robust programming to support faculty and, by extension, Endicott students.

“I have never worked with such a genuinely nice group of people—faculty, staff, and students,” said Freeman, who is also an Associate Professor of English.

And with the community’s support, Freeman has bold plans: “In five years, the ECTL will be recognized as a center of excellence on our campus, and we will be building a national reputation for our model, which combines student and faculty support, along with access programs.”

We caught up with Freeman to discuss her role model, Halloween, and more.  

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Who is your role model?

My former colleague, Professor Anne Hyde. Anne is a Pulitzer-nominated author. She won the major prize in history and ran the faculty development center at Colorado College, where I worked prior to coming to Endicott. She is now a Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Anne is brilliant and incredibly accomplished, but she is also among the most humble, down-to-earth people I know. She has a tremendous sense of humor, a generous spirit, and is truly “for others.”

Favorite writer?

This is a very difficult question, probably Milan Kundera.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I am proud of the work I have done to establish a shared identity and mission for the ECTL, but my most visible accomplishment is institutionalizing faculty development programming. The ECTL coordinates two high-profile annual events, monthly workshops, and learning circles, in addition to offering faculty individual consultations and class visits.

If you had a time machine, would you go back in time or visit the future?

Definitely back in time. I would love to be in New York or Paris during the 1920s.

What is your favorite season and why?

Summer is my favorite season because I love long days and hate closed-toe shoes.

What are three words that best describe you?

My children will tell you that I am what in education we might call a “warm demander.” I believe I am kind, empathetic, and supportive, but I expect excellence from myself and those around me. I once received a comment on a student evaluation that described me better than I probably can. The student wrote: “It’s not so much that Dr. Freeman is hard. It is more like you don’t want to disappoint her.”

What was your favorite Halloween costume growing up?

For several years, I was Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

What are your favorite activities to do outside of work?

I love to spend time with my family—my husband, 14-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old-son. We enjoy hiking in the mountains, ideally in Colorado, and going on long walks with our COVID puppy.

What celebrity would you like to meet for a cup of coffee?

I don’t really have the desire to meet any celebrities. Truthfully, life has been so busy for my husband and me since we arrived in Massachusetts a year ago. I would just like to meet him for coffee!