New library leadership appointed to help further student success

Niraj Chaudhary

Niraj Chaudhary works with students enrolled in Pacific's Summer High School Institute.

Two dynamic leaders have been selected to advance University of the Pacific’s vision of integrated learning and teaching centered around the newly modernized library. 

Niraj Chaudhary has been promoted to dean of the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center and Jessica Tinklenberg, program director for The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning, has been appointed director for the Center for Teaching and Learning. The two will be working closely to provide forward-thinking academic support for students and faculty.

Chaudhary previously served as associate dean for technology-enhanced learning and innovation at Pacific. He began his new role July 1. Tinklenberg starts July 11. 

“We are in a new paradigm for learning: more fluid, more active, more connected,” said Regent Randall Bass, a 1981 Pacific graduate and vice president for strategic education at Georgetown University. “There are no two more important positions in the university than those that will guide faculty and students into this new world through the library and the Center for Teaching and Learning. This is an important moment for Pacific’s future.”

Extensive renovations to the library were completed in 2021 to create spaces that support innovations and creativity in learning and teaching. The library now includes a digital makerspace, collaboration spaces, meditation and prayer area, and the Student Academic Success Hub, which integrates student services such as tutoring, the Writing Center and study skills courses.

The Center for Teaching and Learning that supports faculty in innovative pedagogies and best practices in teaching and assessment also is based at the library.  

Niraj Chaudhary

With the new resources, Chaudhary wants to see the library become the “heart of the campus” for learning and teaching.

“We are really focused on what 21st century students are looking for,” Chaudhary said. “The way students learn is changing, so we're trying to be nimble and provide what they need.”

As associate dean, Chaudhary worked extensively to support faculty and students with the Cube—Pacific’s innovation and technology center in the library, which offers everything from 3D printing to virtual reality.

Chaudhary is looking forward to expanding its use in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning. “I see a lot of synergy,” Chaudhary said. “It's going to make a huge difference.”

Maria Pallavicini, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, describes Chaudhary as highly committed to serving students.

“He's visionary about the future for libraries in higher education and how learning, teaching and student support are integrally linked to support both our students and faculty,” Pallavicini said. “Working with library faculty and staff he will be able to implement the vision that was the foundation for our renovation where information is integrated in a very intentional way with teaching and learning.”

Chaudhary had an instrumental role in the library’s renovation as part of the leadership design team. The renovation focused on bringing together three key areas: technology, pedagogy and library resources.

“What we need to do now is have the leaders from all the campus units housed in the library and learning center work together to activate the spaces,” Chaudhary said.

There are already several projects taking place. Pacific was selected to be part of the prestigious Institute on Open Educational Resources offered by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The institute helps campuses devise plans for expanding their use of education materials that students and faculty can use for free or significantly reduced costs, which has been shown to improve equity and student success. 

Faculty and staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning and Student Life will attend the year-long institute beginning mid-July. Open Educational Resources have already saved students at Pacific about $1 million in textbook costs since 2017. 

Another project underway is a think tank course led by College of the Pacific faculty and housed in the library. The topic for fall 2022 is Stockton as a global city. Students will work in groups to produce engaging media projects using a combination of game, film, web-design and data visualization technologies. 

“It will bring together students and faculty from various disciplines for a unique immersive and interdisciplinary experience,” Chaudhary said. “It’s a great example of supporting faculty-led curricular innovation in the renovated library.”

Jessica Tinklenberg

Jessica Tinklenberg

Jessica Tinklenberg

In her role as director for Pacific’s Center for Teaching and Learning, Tinklenberg will be working closely with Chaudhary to support students and faculty. Her initial priority is to ensure an equitable and inclusive teaching environment.

“Hiring and supporting diverse faculty is important,” Tinklenberg said. “We want to make sure our faculty feel supported as educators and that our students see people like them in the classroom so they know they can succeed and thrive.”

Pacific’s work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion was one of the reasons Tinklenberg was drawn to the role.

“There was such a commitment to this idea of structural change and to making sure that it's not just one-off programming that the Center for Teaching and Learning does, but that it is embedded in all the ways teaching and learning is critical to student success,” she said.

Tinklenberg comes to Pacific from the Claremont Colleges where she has served as director for its Center for Teaching and Learning since 2018.

“She brings a wealth of experience in best practices in teaching and pedagogy, a very strong track record of working with the faculty, a very strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and great relationships with faculty,” Pallavicini said.