Press Release

March 25, 2024 | By Will Kopp

Academic Innovator

Barbara Bird Chosen as First Director of Ohio Wesleyan Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Center

Barbara Bird, Ph.D.

DELAWARE, Ohio – Following a nationwide search, Ohio Wesleyan University has hired Barbara Bird as the inaugural director of its newly created Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Center. The center expands OWU's initiatives to enhance student academic success, which have led to substantial growth in the number of students progressing toward graduation. It also indicates the priority OWU places on teaching excellence, innovation, and faculty development.

"Dr. Barb Bird is an academic innovator, a campus collaborator, and a visionary leader who understands the new realities of student learning of the 2020s," said OWU Provost Karlyn Crowley. "She has extensive direct experience leading multifaceted pedagogical development and building community across disciplines to enhance teaching and learning. She connects educational development with student success and academic flourishing."

Since 2017, Bird has served as dean of faculty development and director of the Bedi Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Taylor University, a liberal arts institution in Upland, Indiana. She has 23 years of college teaching and leadership experience.

In the newly endowed position, Bird will oversee the strategic design, implementation, and continuing work of teaching effectiveness, engaged learning, and curricular innovation at Ohio Wesleyan. She will be a strategic leader in faculty development and student learning, supporting faculty engagement in evidence-informed best practices in teaching and learning.

"Barb will also be working closely with Academic Affairs leadership and faculty to drive curricular innovation through new and ongoing initiatives tied to Ohio Wesleyan's future," Crowley added.

"I believe that my passion for spurring and equipping faculty for transformative student learning fits Ohio Wesleyan's commitment to whole-person experiential learning," Bird said. "I am driven to help people and projects realize their potential through strategic vision and improved structures, processes, and programs."

A series of new student-success programs at OWU – including special programs for first-generation students, new academic advising and tutoring initiatives, and a complete overhaul of the academic program – have led to a 7 percentage point rise in retention of students from their first to second year. Creation of the Teaching, Learning, and Innovation Center is the newest initiative to establish Ohio Wesleyan as a model university for teaching excellence, hands-on learning, insightful advising, and student success after graduation.

At Taylor, Bird has led every facet of the teaching and learning process, from faculty orientation to course design to creating a teaching excellence framework built upon practices proven by research to improve student learning.

Bird also serves as a professor of English, and she was director of Taylor's Writing Center for 16 years. She earned a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric and a Master of Arts in English from Ball State University, and she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Taylor University.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book "Colleges That Change Lives" and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review "Best Colleges" lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at or learn more at