Welcome

Welcome to my web site! I am honored to be the Dean of Faculty at Soka University of America, and I am responsible for managing the undergraduate program with its innovative Soka University curriculum and dynamic faculty, and its energetic group of diverse international students.

I was previously was Professor of Science at Yale-NUS College, and for 20 years I was a professor at Pomona College, most recently as the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Astronomy. I received both a BS in Physics and an MS in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1985, and a PhD from the University of Chicago in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1992.  At Pomona College I was Chair of Physics and Astronomy, and was founding co-Director of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning. In 2012-13 I served as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at Yale University, where I was one of the authors of the blueprint for the Yale-NUS College Curriculum, and advised Yale’s President Salovey and the Yale Provost on topics ranging from online learning, Math education at Yale, and Teaching and Learning Centers.

I am very interested in promoting and developing new and more effective forms of undergraduate education, such as Soka’s unique academic program. In addition to developing new courses and curriculum at Yale-NUS College and Pomona College, I have helped to develop a number of international conferences on higher education.  Most recently, I organized a STEM innovation conference in Singapore that featured Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, and two days of talks from internationally recognized science and math educators. With a group from Yale University and Yale-NUS College, we developed the Globalizing the Liberal Arts symposium and workshop at Yale University during June 6-9, 2016. I also have been on the organizing committee for a series of conferences on the Future of Liberal Arts and Sciences in India, as well as additional meetings on STEM education and Liberal Arts at Pomona College.

I am also eager to help students and faculty reach their full potential – especially in regards to teaching. At Yale-NUS College I was founding director of their Centre for Teaching and Learning, and managed a wide range of programming for faculty development, as well as organizing discussions and drafting policies on the evaluation of teaching, fostering innovation in teaching and peer observations of teaching. At NUS I was a member of the NUS Teaching Academy, where we engaged in discussions about advancing teaching and scholarship with NUS administration, and visiting scholars from across the world. At Yale during the ACE fellowship, I was a member of the committee that developed the First-Year Scholars at Yale program – a highly successful summer program for students that helps them develop writing and quantitative skills and integrate into the Yale campus. At Soka, I am working to foster additional discussions and conferences on teaching and learning, and to develop new ways to advance student learning.

I enjoy meeting with students and faculty, and am always available to discuss ways we can move forward at Soka University for further strengthen our undergraduate program. My office is Pauling Hall 425, and I can be reached by email at bpenprase@soka.edu.