The educational innovation and commitment to student learning inherent in WPI's project-based curriculum has been evident since the early 1970s. Support for teaching effectiveness and innovation was formalized in 1992, when Provost Diran Apelian established the Center for Curricular Innovation and Educational Development (CCIED). The first Director of CCIED was Dr. James Groccia, an educational psychologist who had previously directed WPI's student counseling center. Early initiatives in peer-assisted learning and active and cooperative learning were funded by the Davis Educational Foundation.
In 1995, Groccia left WPI to direct the teaching and learning center at the University of Missouri. Dr. Judith Miller, a faculty member in the Biology & Biotechnology Department, became Director of CCIED. Soon thereafter, its name was changed to the Center for Educational Development, Technology, and Assessment (CEDTA). Under Miller's leadership, campus-wide initiatives in peer-assisted learning were expanded. Among many other initiatives, she created the New Faculty Mentoring Program and provided support for a paradigm shift to student learning outcomes assessment. During her tenure she succeeded in establishing the Class of '57 Excellence in Teaching Fund, an endowment from WPI's Class of 1957 on the occasion of their 40th reunion. The Class of '57 fund continues to enable a variety of initiatives that support high quality education for undergraduate students.
In 2006, after Miller had left WPI, Dr. Chrys Demetry was appointed Director of the Center for Educational Development and Assessment (CEDA). The name change recognized the leading role of WPI's Academic Technology Center in helping faculty use technology to support students and improve student learning.
In 2010, Morgan-Worcester Inc., the philanthropic foundation of Morgan Construction Company, and the heirs of the company's founder, Charles Hill Morgan, donated $2.1 million to endow the Morgan Center for Teaching and Learning at WPI. Like CCIED, CEDTA, and CEDA before it, the Morgan Center promotes excellence in teaching at WPI, enhances teaching effectiveness at all levels, supports new teaching innovations, and assesses student learning outcomes to guide improvements in teaching practice and the curriculum.
The loyalty and generosity of the Morgan family are woven into the fabric of the Institute's history. Charles Hill Morgan was employed by WPI founder Ichabod Washburn as general superintendent. In that role, Morgan supervised the construction of the Washburn Shops, one of the Institute's first two buildings. Donated by Washburn, the building was a manufacturing plant where students could apply the theory they learned in the classroom to real-world problems. Morgan was appointed a WPI trustee in 1865 and served until his death in 1911. Since then, five generations of Morgans have served on the WPI board, and two, Philip M. Morgan and Paul S. Morgan, have chaired it. "WPI's unique project-based approach to teaching and learning and its long history of innovation were born in the marriage of theory taught in the classroom with the practice students gained in the shops that my great-grandfather built and led," said Paul S. Morgan. "It is gratifying to be able to endow this Center and to assure that it will have the means to keep this heritage of forward-looking, student-centered education alive for generations to come."