Professor Patricia Wittkopp was selected as one of six interdisciplinary faculty nationwide who met in late September 2012 to create guidelines for a new Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Texas.
The UT system board of regents commissioned the external review committee of accomplished teachers to develop the mission and guidelines for the academy, the application process, criteria for selection, and to perform the first round of reviews to induct inaugural members. Members elected this year will form the selection committee for the following year as the academy grows into its own governing body.
The purpose of the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers is to recognize outstanding educators among the nine academic campuses and to foster teaching innovations. Through the recognition of outstanding educators and the advancement of knowledge and innovation in the field of teaching, the academy will serve as an advocacy group to promote interdisciplinary education, improved teaching, and innovative delivery of education. Membership to the academy will be a prestigious honor recognizing the best and most innovative educators within the UT system.
“It was interesting to hear the perspectives from different disciplines and universities,” said Wittkopp. “After a full day of discussion, I believe that a mature vision for the academy and its potential impact emerged. In the next few months, the external review committee will be selecting inaugural members who are not only accomplished educators, but also passionate about disseminating pedagogical best practices to improve teaching throughout the UT system.”
Wittkopp joined the University of Michigan faculty in the departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in 2005 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2011. As a faculty member, she has taught a large (400+ students) undergraduate course in genetics as well as smaller (10-30 students) courses for graduate and undergraduate students on topics including genetics, development, and evolution. Wittkopp's contributions to college-level teaching have been recognized by the Henry Russel and Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Awards from U-M, grants for educational research and improving pedagogy, invitations to help lead teaching-related workshops for colleagues, and membership on the Educational Committee for the Genetics Society of America. She is also affiliated with the following at U-M: Center for Statistical Genetics, Program in Biomedical Sciences, and the Department of Computational Medicine and Biology.
Wittkopp’s membership on the GSA’s Education Committee and her selection by UT to create the Academy of Distinguished Teachers underscores ways in which her contributions to teaching are impacting not only U-M students, but college education on a national scale.