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UC Graduate Student Honored as One of the Nation’s Future Leaders in Higher Education

Doctoral student Bethany Bowling is one of eight graduate students nationally to be honored for her leadership in teaching and learning as well as her commitment to service.

Date: 2/25/2007
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
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Bethany Bowling
Bethany Bowling

Bethany Bowling, a University of Cincinnati doctoral student in interdisciplinary studies-biology education, is one of eight graduate students nationally to receive the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). The award recognizes academic and civic responsibility and promise as future leaders of higher education. The 26-year-old Ft. Thomas, Ky., graduate student was selected from a pool of 100 nominations and received the award at the association’s annual meeting in New Orleans in January.

The AAC&U is described as the leading national association reinforcing the quality, vitality and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Founded in 1915, the organization now comprises more than 1,100 accredited public and private colleges and universities.

The award is named for K. Patricia Cross, Professor Emerita of Higher Education at the University of California-Berkeley. From 1996 through 2005, the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Awards were administered by the American Association for Higher Education, where Cross had served as chair of AAHE’s Board of Directors. 

“This award highlights those students who continue Pat Cross’ leadership in advancing underserved students, assessment, collaborative pedagogy and institutional integrity,” says L. Lee Knefelkamp, senior scholar at AAC&U and professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. “Seeing these future faculty members’ dedication to these important issues gives me great hope for the future of higher education.”

Bowling and education freshman J.R. Lewars

Bowling is a Boone County High School graduate who earned her undergraduate degree at Thomas More College and her master’s degree from UC in biology. She expects to complete her PhD in interdisciplinary studies-biology education this summer. Bowling currently works as a graduate assistant in the UC Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning (CET&L), which provides workshops, demonstrations and resources for faculty and grad students on best practices in teaching and learning. Bowling assists in organizing the CET&L workshops and is also in charge of the graduate student workshops.

Wayne Hall, vice provost for faculty development, hired Bowling for her current position in the CET&L. “I felt extraordinarily lucky to work with her for this year in the CET&L,” he says. “She’s one of an emerging generation of science instructors who are really looking at what students actually learn in science classes and at how students best learn. As Bethany knows from her own research, this approach to science instruction is badly needed across the nation in order for us to get more of our students engaged in careers in science,” Halls says.

For two years, Bowling served on the National Science Foundation funded Project STEP (Science & Technology Enhancement Program) grant, a partnership between the College of Engineering and the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) that builds students with strong backgrounds in science, math and technology into strong educators. “I was working with science and math teachers at Cincinnati Public’s Hughes Center and Western Hills High School,” Bowling explains. “Around those subjects, I’d design innovative, creative activities around real-world problems to draw students into the subject and to help teachers develop lessons outside the book.

“It was such a unique experience,” Bowling says of the STEP Program. “I was the only biologist working with engineering grad students, and it was great to work with people who had different backgrounds.” Bowling’s additional public service with STEP included serving as a judge at the 2006 Southwest District Science & Engineering Expo at UC, judging the science projects of 7th-12th graders from five regional Ohio counties. She has dedicated three years at UC to serving the Girls in Science outreach program, led by Physics Professor Margaret Hanson, which aims to keep girls in fourth through sixth grades interested in science and promising science careers for women.

“The girls meet once a month after school. For one of their projects, they swished water in their mouths and extracted DNA from their cheek cells,” she says of one of her after-school assignments.

Bowling has held a longtime passion for the sciences, particularly genetics – the area of her research. She predicts that during her career, she’ll see an end to the shortage of women in these fields.

“Bethany represents the ideal graduate student in that she has taken advantage of many of the opportunities that our university has to offer,” says Professor of Biological Sciences Carl Huether, her research adviser. “Besides her STEP and CET&L activities, she has also served as the graduate student administrative assistant for the Preparing Future Faculty Program, and as a teaching assistant in the Department of Biology. These numerous experiences have made her a uniquely qualified PhD candidate, and well deserving of this award. It’s been a sincere pleasure to serve as both her MS and PhD research adviser,” he said.

“I’ve had many opportunities here at UC, a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have found at another university,” says Bowling. “But, I also think that a student’s college experience largely depends on what the student makes of it.”

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