Welcome to my web site! I am honored to serve Soka University in the capacity as Vice President for Sponsored Research and External Academic Relations. In this role, I will help foster new externally funded projects that will help SUA’s faculty expand their research and scholarship and also enable SUA as an institution to more fully realise many of its strategic priorities.  I will also be working to expand connections between SUA and regional and peer institutions, to enable SUA to have more academic collaborations and partnerships as it expands and becomes more recognised as a world leader in global liberal arts and as it defines and builds on its mission for fostering global citizenship.

From July 2017 to August 2020 I served as Soka University’s Dean of Faculty, where I was responsible for managing the undergraduate program with its innovative Soka University curriculum and dynamic faculty, and its energetic and diverse community of students. As Dean of Faculty I had the wonderful opportunity to work with SUA faculty to help develop a new interdisciplinary Life Sciences program, develop new programs for incentivising faculty research, to help improve teaching at SUA, help SUA connect with peer liberal arts institutions, and improve Soka’s unique Core and GE curriculum. I was especially grateful for the opportunity to develop the 2018 Globalised Liberal Arts conference, co-organized by SUA, Pomona College, Carleton College, Middlebury College, and  Yale University, work with the Science Advisory Board and SUA faculty to develop the new Life Sciences curriculum, and to work with faculty and administration to develop the new Fellowship advising program, the new CPT program, the accelerated MA degree program with CGU, the new Merit program, the Teaching Innovation Grant program, more inclusive practices in search committees, and to help guide our transition to online instruction with new training programs for faculty. I feel especially grateful to have been able to help recruit 9 excellent new tenure-track faculty to SUA in fields ranging from Studio Art, Writing, Biochemistry, Sociology, French, Mathematics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Biology and am delighted to be able help bring these amazing professors to our academic community.

I was previously was Professor of Science at Yale-NUS College, where I was one of the founding faculty and the inaugural director of the Yale-NUS Centre for Teaching and 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. Prior to my experiences at Yale-NUS and Yale, I was a professor for 20 years at Pomona College, most recently as the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Astronomy. At Pomona College I was Chair of Physics and Astronomy, and was founding co-Director of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning. 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.

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.  In 2017 I organized a STEM innovation conference at Yale-NUS College 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, with a 2014 meeting on the topic of Online Learning in Liberal Arts institutions in my role as the inaugural co-director of LACOL, the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning.

I am 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. We have created new programs for enhancing faculty research and teaching, including faculty Merit Awards to recognize excellent faculty research, and Teaching Innovation Grants to allow our SUA faculty to develop exciting new types of teaching.

My work on STEM education and innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum design has resulted in a volume just released by Springer, Inc. The book is entitled STEM Education for the 21st Century, and includes an overview of diversity and inclusion in STEM education, theories of teaching and learning, a review of new types of active learning in science courses, new types of engineering education, a review of global interdisciplinary science curriculum, an overview of online education and some thoughts about the future of STEM education.

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 and connect with universities, colleges and foundations. My office is Curie Hall 323, and I can be reached by email at bpenprase@soka.edu.