At UT: Ingrid Ruffin, the student success librarian for first-year programs, has been at UT since 2012. She began her career at UT as a diversity librarian resident. She quickly recognized ways she could improve students’ success through her position with UT Libraries, and she now develops and provides leadership for innovative initiatives as UT Libraries’ liaison to First-Year Studies. For example, she developed the UT Libraries Breakout Game—which consists of riddles, clues, and puzzles similar to escape room games—to give first-year students an active learning experience that engaged them in the services and spaces of the library.
At UT: Paula Schaefer joined the faculty in the College of Law in 2008 after practicing commercial litigation. Her areas of expertise are procedural law and professional responsibility. She is interested in developing innovative teaching methods to prepare students for practicing the law ethically.
Schaefer stays involved in the Knoxville law community by writing a column with two colleagues for the Knoxville Bar Association’s publication, DICTA, and by teaching continuing legal education courses on a volunteer basis for the Knoxville Bar Association, the state of Tennessee, and alumni of the College of Law.
At UT: Elisabeth Schussler, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, has been at UT since 2009. She is director of biology teaching and learning, and works with faculty to create instructional practices like group work, clickers, and questions that encourage students to become active learners in the classroom. “It allows them to practice what they’re learning,” she said. “The research shows that when you have students do active learning, it fosters retention and it eliminates a lot of the performance differentials we see between genders and people from different backgrounds.”
Schussler also is passionate about helping graduate teaching assistants become better instructors. She is implementing training that allows them to gain the types of teaching skills that foster inquiry and active learning in labs and discussion classes.
At UT: Ted Shelton is an associate professor in the School of Architecture, where he has been on the faculty since 2004. He holds degrees from UT, the University of Oklahoma, and Cambridge University. His professional experience includes work for firms in Philadelphia and Seattle. In 2002 he was a Fulbright Fellow in Estonia.
“It’s both an honor and a bit of a strange situation to be on the faculty at one’s alma mater,” he said. “Although there are very few members of the faculty who were here when I was a student, there are still some from my early days as a faculty member. It took me a while to consider myself one of their colleagues, even longer to feel comfortable using their first names.”
At UT: Ricardo Videla is an assistant professor in UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed his residency at UT in 2013 before joining the faculty full time. When on clinic duty, he works with his students, interns, and residents to treat large animals, specializing in internal medicine. Videla enjoys clinic duty because it is unpredictable. “I like not knowing what cases may come in and what is going to happen with my day,” he said.
Why he chose this field: Videla grew up around Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he said he was born with passion for animals. Because he wasn’t allowed to have a pet, he spent a lot of his time on his aunt’s farm, where she encouraged his love of animals. He enjoyed being outside with the animals, lying in the field with them and watching their actions.
At UT: Kenton Yeager is a professor in the Department of Theatre and head of the graduate program in lighting design. He came to UT in 2001 from the Virginia Stage Company to establish the university’s graduate lighting design program. To ensure that students retain what they are learning in the classroom, they work on designs for three real productions each semester. “It is entirely immersive,” he said. “It has totally changed how we teach.”
An example of the program’s success? “We have 100 percent job placement both on the undergraduate and graduate level in lighting design,” he said.