Senior Lecturer Named to Prestigious UT System Teaching Academy
Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester
UT Dallas teaching advocate Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester recently was inducted in the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Created to recognize exceptional educators at the System’s eight academic institutions, the academy serves as a System-level advocacy group dedicated to enhancing teaching, fostering innovation in the classroom, and promoting interdisciplinary perspectives on education.
“Karen possesses vast knowledge about teaching. She knows a great deal about how students learn, as well as formal education, educational theory and the psychological roots of education,” said Dr. John Sibert, associate professor of chemistry at UT Dallas.
Huxtable-Jester was among the four newest inductees to the 28-member academy. Sibert has been a member of the academy since its inception four years ago and serves as its president. They are the only two current UT Dallas faculty members in the academy.
The academy selection process is competitive. For contingent faculty, nominees must previously have received a Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and have tenure or equivalent rank (senior lecturer or above). A campus-based selection process determines the nominations, which are then submitted by the institution’s president or provost to the academy.
Huxtable-Jester, a senior lecturer in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, teaches educational psychology, social psychology and social and personality development. She also serves as associate director of the UT Dallas Center for Teaching and Learning, and is the chair of the Academic Senate’s committee on effective teaching, which promotes teaching excellence across the campus.
“It is an honor to be recognized for caring a lot about teaching. But I believe that passion should be demonstrated in action. That’s something I certainly have been trying to work on through various roles since I’ve been here.”
“It is an honor to be recognized for caring a lot about teaching,” Huxtable-Jester said. “But I believe that passion should be demonstrated in action. That’s something I certainly have been trying to work on through various roles since I’ve been here — just raising the level of conversation about teaching and trying to change the climate so that we really put teaching first.”
Huxtable-Jester said students tell her that what they appreciate most in a teacher is enthusiasm and caring.
“They want teachers who are very enthusiastic about sharing ideas that they're excited about. They want to know that the teacher wants to be there, and wants to share this information. But they also are looking for compassion when they struggle and genuine caring for them as individuals. It makes a difference to them,” she said.
To encourage better teaching, the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers released “The Little Orange Book,” a compilation of expert teaching tips and thoughtful reflections on classroom learning. The book was distributed to new faculty members on all UT System campuses, and raised visibility of the academy and its educational mission.
Sibert said the group is working on “The Little Orange Book II,” which will include contributions from students as well as from academy members. In addition, the academy is developing opinion columns that will be distributed throughout the state and is hoping to offer teaching conferences.
Sibert and Huxtable-Jester said the UT System provides good teaching at its campuses. But Sibert said there are always improvements that can be made, especially when driven by data.
“I think parents, students, faculty, alums and the entire community should be very pleased at the questions that are being asked by those who make decisions as to how we can improve, which is not a comment on us not doing a terrific job now,” Sibert said. “It's really a comment on wanting to add the most value to the student experience both in and out of the classroom.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].