When Waleska Crespo Rivera was appointed president of the Universidad Central del Caribe in 2018, she sought to focus on promoting the quality of UCC’s educational programs. As UCC’s first private medical school to be incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, UCC has evolved into a health-sciences university with fully accredited academic programs in Medicine, Doctor of Chiropractic, Medical Images Technology, Biomedical Sciences, and Substance Abuse Counseling.
“We prepare the doctors, scientists, and health care professionals to serve their communities in Puerto Rico and beyond,” says President Crespo Rivera. “Our faculty are experts in their fields, but we wanted to ensure they were also equipped and supported for their role as educators.”
To ensure faculty were fully prepared to continue this mission during the pandemic, President Crespo Rivera turned to ACUE. Through UCC’s Faculty Development Office, and supported by the Office of the Dean of Academic Affairs, UCC is the only higher education institution in Puerto Rico to have most of its faculty earn an ACUE Certificate.
Earlier this year, UCC held a pinning ceremony to celebrate ACUE Certified faculty from all three cohorts.
Dr. Nereida Diaz, Dean of Academic Affairs who became ACUE Certified as part of UCC’s inaugural cohort in 2020-21, praised UCC’s faculty’s collaboration, feedback and dedication that has contributed to UCC’s Faculty Development program.
“ACUE has helped us build a culture of professional practice that is focused on teaching and learning excellence,” said Dr. Diaz. “Participating in the course helped me learn about new evidence-based techniques but also gave me a better perspective for our students.”
Accreditation + Quality + ACUE
UCC’s commitment to teaching excellence begins at the top, with President Crespo Rivera, who is an ACUE course taker herself and has completed 10 modules. She plans to earn the full ACUE certificate, in part as a way to promote and encourage other faculty to join upcoming cohorts.
“Earning your ACUE pins today represents a commitment not only to helping UCC’s students succeed, but also to your own lifelong pursuit of learning,” added President Crespo Rivera.
ACUE institutional partnerships, with their focus on quality and measurable impact for students, has played a critical role in the accreditation process for several colleges and universities and UCC is not the exception.
President Crespo Rivera said that as a medical and health professions institution, UCC is subject to several accreditation processes (institutional and programmatic). ACUE, she said, helped UCC successfully navigate multiple evaluation processes, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which granted UCC with institutional accreditation through 2027-2028 and reaffirmed UCC’s excellence in education programs for UCC students.
Celebrating the Role of Faculty
At the pinning ceremony, ACUE Academic Director Dr. Barbara Rodriguez said she was inspired by the reflections shared by medical doctors, scientists and faculty, and their excitement for their roles as educators. “I appreciated seeing and hearing medical doctors talk about teaching and learning with such appreciation and enthusiasm,” Rodriguez said.
Faculty participated in a “table talk” activity with colleagues and shared “ah-ha!” moments from their ACUE experience.
One faculty member, Dr. Jose Oliver, shared how observing colleagues recorded microlectures inspired him to adjust his approach to engaging students in an online environment.
“This course was so important for my work as a teacher,” said Oliver. “We are experts in our fields, but we are not trained to teach. ACUE has provided me with the tools necessary to help UCC students develop in the classroom.”