Beth Schussler is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of biology teaching and learning for the Division of Biology. Her contributions are at the national forefront of biology education and were recently recognized in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The following text is adapted from that article.
Schussler and the heads of the university’s three biology departments put together a plan last year for administrators that detailed student demand for biology courses and asked for six more graduate teaching assistants. Senior UT officials, whose strategic plan to become a top-25 research university includes a focus on graduating more students in four years, gave $185,000 to the biology departments to hire the teaching assistants they requested. The money for the new graduate students came from $1.7-million in revenue from tuition increases that was set aside for efforts to improve retention and graduation rates.
The extra teaching assistants and lecture courses allowed the university to accommodate 200 more students in its biodiversity classes last year than the year before, and about 100 more students in cell biology. “My priority was to get rid of the wait list,” says Schussler, who is also an assistant professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology. And she did.
Visit the Quest Gallery at Trace, UT’s digital archive, to access publications of other Quest Scholars of the Week.