Dr. Jo Kurdziel has been named the Beverly Rathcke Collegiate Lecturer by the Office of the Provost of the University of Michigan. Kurdziel was honored as one of three Collegiate Lecturers on the Ann Arbor campus for the 2014 – 2015 academic year. Collegiate lectureships are determined by outstanding contributions to teaching and service.

“I chose Beverly because she was a great mentor to undergraduate and graduate students,” said Kurdziel. “She was generous with her time and attention and I wanted to honor that.”

“Dr. Kurdziel has long played a critical role in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, both in classroom teaching and well beyond that,” wrote John Vandermeer, Alfred T. Thurnau Professor and Asa Gray Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, in his nomination letter. “She developed a set of award-winning courses in introductory biology for non-concentrators; the development and evaluation were funded by an NSF grant. She also teaches EEB’s introductory biology sequence for concentrators (sometimes teaching two large sections simultaneously with over 700 students).

“Her teaching style has been highly effective and she continues upgrading the active learning methods keeping the students engaged and interested.”

Bio 100, biology for non-scientists, another course Kurdziel teaches, was identified as “one of the top examples of best practices in a national study of Biology courses conducted by the Center for Educational Policy Research (CEPR)” by the College Board. The course was designated as an “exemplary practice” course, the highest designation awarded among 149 such courses evaluated nationwide.

“She has also played a larger role as our departmental resident expert on science pedagogy and assessment, an activity that is arguably even more important to the department,” wrote Vandermeer. “She was the first in the department to introduce many active learning techniques, such as clickers in large lectures, and she shared her knowledge generously with many faculty members. She received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute certification to teach an acclaimed course called ‘Entering Mentoring’ which teaches graduate students and postdocs fundamental issues in mentoring others.

“In 2009, she was the recipient of an IDEA Institute grant, and in 2010 she was a co-PI on an NSF initiative for attracting underrepresented minority students to the field of ecology and evolutionary biology, a program that lasted for four years and brought some 20 students from disadvantaged backgrounds to the University of Michigan for a summer REU program. This latter program was one of our department’s most visible initiatives in attracting underrepresented minority students to the field in general and to our department in particular. Although it is too early to fully evaluate, we already have seen at least three former participants in that program solicit entrance to our Frontier’s Master’s program." Two of those students are currently in the EEB graduate program. 

“Dr. Kurdziel is a magnificent teacher, and an innovative entrepreneur with regard to new teaching techniques,” Vandermeer concluded.

Lecturers are nominated by their department with supporting letters and a committee in each college makes the final selection. The private awards ceremony will be on December 4, 2014. Collegiate lecturers receive $2,000 annually for first two years. The honorary title of Collegiate Lecturer lasts throughout their career at U-M.

Each year, the university will award up to three Collegiate Lecturer titles to those who demonstrate a sustained record of excellence in teaching and learning and/or in service or other contribution to the university

University of Michigan Faculty History Project Memoir of Beverly J. Rathcke