Robert A. Lue, professor of the practice of molecular and cellular biology, has been named the inaugural Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, placing him at the forefront of efforts to rethink and support teaching and learning, both on campus and off.  Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), announced the appointment in an email to faculty today.

“Rob is one of Harvard’s foremost leaders in innovative teaching,” Smith said.  “As the Menschel director, he will establish the Bok Center at the heart of our efforts to strengthen teaching and learning in the FAS.  This is an exciting moment for everyone who cares passionately about the education of our students — today, in the future, on campus and online. ”

Smith, the John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, called Lue “a tremendous partner, a substantive thinker, and a practical optimist. Together with the recently announced appointment of Huntington D. Lambert as the next dean for the Division of Continuing Education, I believe we have the makings of a ‘dream team’ of innovative teaching that is without peer.”

“Rob Lue is a visionary, with the intelligence, energy and moral commitments that make visions come true,” said Doris Sommer, the Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies. “His appointment at the Bok Center no doubt adds to an almost unimaginable range of leadership responsibilities — including HarvardX and the [Education] Portal in Allston — but it also enables our best pedagogical development towards rigorous and broad education at Harvard and  beyond our local campuses.”

Working with the center’s executive director and staff, Lue will be responsible for articulating the teaching mission of FAS and elevating its profile on campus, as well as managing the center’s growth and collaborating with staff to develop programs and courses on innovative pedagogies, course and programmatic assessment, and development of teaching skills among FAS instructors.  Established in 1975 to enhance the quality of undergraduate education throughout FAS, the center annually hosts dozens of programs, seminars, and events to support the teaching activities of FAS faculty and instructional staff.  The creation of the new position of faculty director was made possible by Richard Menschel, M.B.A. ’59.

For Lue, who also serves as the faculty director of HarvardX, Harvard’s online education portal, and the director of Life Sciences Education, the new appointment offers an opportunity to build on the Bok Center’s “long and distinguished history” of innovation and research on the subject of teaching and learning.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to build on that remarkable foundation,” Lue said. “This is a perfect moment for the Bok Center, and for other efforts across campus in the teaching and learning space to come together in a mutually reinforcing way.”

Lue is a national figure in life sciences education, having co-authored two major freshman biology textbooks, the second of which was published in December by W.H. Freeman. He continues to co-lead the National Academies Summer Institute for Undergraduate Education.  Lue also continues as the faculty director of Harvard’s Allston Education Portal. Lue has served as dean of the Harvard Summer School, where among other things he led the expansion of study-abroad programs across multiple fields in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

Lue graduated from St. George’s College in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1982, and went on to earn a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross. He earned his Ph.D. in cellular biology at Harvard in 1995.  He joined the faculty of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in 1999.

Going forward, Lue said he believes Harvard is uniquely positioned to take advantage of a coming sea change in education, one driven by technology, the Internet, and their creative application both inside and outside the classroom. He said the Bok Center will play a critical role in leading the charge.

“The Bok Center is beautifully positioned to play a very important role in fostering not just faculty experimentation in the classroom, but also in working to identify what the best ways are for us to teach our students,” Lue said. “When you look at the national landscape, the traditional mode of lecturing, while still important, is clearly not the only way to teach. Increasingly, faculty members are exploring new ways of using technology and new ways of engaging students. I’ve never seen this level of broad-based interest in creatively rethinking teaching and learning among both faculty and students, so it’s a tremendously exciting time to be in the classroom.”