The University of Texas at El Paso’s Beth Brunk-Chavez, Ph.D., dean of Extended University, recently stepped down as president of The University of Texas System’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. She led the organization for two years.
During those two years, Brunk-Chavez supervised several projects that would promote the innovative ideas of academy members. Many were tied to the popular “The Little Orange Book: Short Lessons on Excellent Teaching” that was published in 2015.
The former president, with the support of other distinguished teachers, started the Little Orange Blog in October 2018 on the academy’s website, created an electronic version of The Little Orange Book (eLOB) in spring 2019, and compiled and edited material for a second LOB focused on student essays about what makes good teaching.
The second book of a planned series also included essays from campus presidents, to include UTEP President Emerita Diana Natalicio, about their experiences as students and/or teachers. Tower Books will publish that book in spring 2020.
“It was my honor to serve as president of The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers for the last two years,” Brunk-Chavez said. “It gave me the opportunity to share with and learn from many of the System’s excellent teachers. Although we come from very different campuses with diverse student bodies, academy members share a passion to teach and a deep desire to help students. I believe the work we have done in the last two years highlights those strengths for teachers across the System and the country.”
The UT System created the academy in 2012 to recognize outstanding educators who have made exceptional contributions to enhance teaching and learning. Brunk-Chavez, a professor of rhetoric and writing studies, was part of the inaugural class.
Rebecca Karoff, Ph.D., UT System associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Brunk-Chavez’s term was remarkable in many ways. She praised the UTEP administrator for her thoughtful leadership that combined force with humility, and her focus on student-centered innovation in university teaching, whether implicit or explicit.
“As president, her unwavering commitment to understanding the students we serve today, not those we served 10 or 20 years ago, was always on display,” said Karoff, who is the system’s liaison to the academy. “What Beth knows deeply – and what she made core to the work of the academy these past two years – is that quality student learning and student success are the reasons we care as higher educators about the quality of teaching in the UT System.”