About: Council Advancement Teaching And Learning

The Council for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) is made up of representatives who guide centers and initiatives related to teaching and learning and instructional technologies. The Council serves as a peer network for its members and in an advisory capacity to the Kirwan Center. CATL aims to strengthen institutional and cross-institutional efforts to enhance teaching and learning through networking, collaboration, and sharing of best practices; build and sustain a culture of excellence in teaching and learning across the USM; and support and recognize faculty in teaching, learning, and student success.

Shoshana Brassfield,

Director, Center for Teaching Excellence, and Associate Professor, Philosophy
: Frostburg State University

Shoshana Brassfield is director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and associate professor in the Philosophy Department at Frostburg State University.  She is an advocate for student-centered and active learning classes on her campus, and for inclusive and compassionate teaching practices.  She is responsible for organizing instructional development conferences and activities that serve both the university and the region.  Since 2012 she has been teaching and promoting the use of Reacting to the Past (RTTP) role-playing games for college classes.  She has given professional presentations about teaching with RTTP, received several grants, and has actively promoted the use of the pedagogy on her campus, helping Frostburg State University to become one of the founding members of the Reacting Consortium.

Brassfield earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California Berkeley.   She has over 14 years of experience teaching undergraduates, including courses in gender and feminist philosophy, ethics, philosophy of science, and senior seminars on the topics of procrastination and emotion.  Her research focuses on Descartes’s epistemology, moral philosophy, and theory of the passions.

Christina Cestone,

Executive Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
: University of Maryland, Baltimore

Christina Cestone received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, where she conducted research on faculty learning communities, instructional methods, motivation, and interprofessional education. Prior to leaving industry for higher education, she earned a Master’s degree in Human and Organizational Learning from The George Washington University.

Her interests are in program evaluation, assessment, and curriculum and instructional development involving active learning methods. She presents her scholarly work nationally, with recent publications in Medical Science Educator; the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Research, Education and Policy.  Cestone is active in the American Education Research Association (AERA), Division I, Education in the Professions.

Prior to University of Maryland, Cestone spent the last eight years in medical education, recently as Associate Dean of Assessment and Evaluation for Drexel University, College of Medicine, where she was responsible for overseeing medical student assessment, and course and curriculum evaluation in an integrated medical curriculum for 1,100 medical students.

Cynthia Cravens,

Director of Faculty Development for the Center for Teaching Excellence and Assistant Professor of English
: University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

Cynthia Cravens joined the faculty of UMES in 2014 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English & Modern Languages. A relentless supporter of the Humanities, she has worked with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland Humanities Council, and, post-COVID-19, hopes to work with the National Humanities Alliance. As the inaugural Director of Faculty Development and the founder of the brand new Center for Teaching Excellence, Cravens develops and implements initiatives to support engaged instruction, meaningful assessment, and reflective evaluation. In the area of faculty development, her interests are in equity and inclusion, assessment, adjunct support and development, writing for the public, and, from a curriculum point of view, turning STEM into SHTEAM. She holds an MFA in writing from Emerson College and a PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Samantha Elliott,

Director of the Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning (CITL) and Associate Professor of Biology
: St. Mary's College of Maryland

Samantha Elliott is the founding Director of the Center for Inclusive Teaching & Learning (CITL) and Associate Professor of Biology at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM).  She received her B.S. in Biology from Furman University and her Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After an NIH-funded postdoctoral position at Duke University, Elliott joined the faculty at SMCM in 2006. Her interests in biology education led to a research residency through the NSF-funded Biology Scholars Program (2008-2009) and a pivot to pursuing biology education research as her primary scholarship. Elliott has wide-ranging interests related to student learning, inclusion and diversity in the classroom, and course- and programmatic-level assessment. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (2015-2019), a fellow (2012) and mentor at the Project Kaleidoscope Summer Leadership Institute, and has been a Leadership Fellow in the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) since 2016.  Elliott has also acted as a consultant for numerous education-related grants and given workshops for international audiences. 

Eva Garin,

Director of CETL
: Bowie State University

Eva Garin is a Professor at Bowie State University where she serves as Director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. She also serves on the National Association for Development Schools (NAPDS) Leadership Team and is Co-Editor of their publication, PDS Partners: Linking Theory and Practice. Garin is a past chair of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) PDS Research SIG. Her research interests include teacher inquiry and inquiry into the college classroom and professional development for teachers and university faculty. She is a frequent presenter at both the NAPDS and AERA national conferences. Her publications include book chapters and scholarly journal articles on literacy, professional development and teacher inquiry.

Stefan Gunther,

Associate Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs
: University of Maryland University College

Stefan Gunther joins UMUC as Associate Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs and brings to bear 20+ years of experience in academic administration for institutions as diverse as Johns Hopkins University, University of Virginia, George Washington University, DeVry University, Strayer University, and USDA Graduate School.  At these institutions, Gunther has administered university-wide summer programs (GWU); developed new offerings for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (UVa); served as the highest-ranking academic leader in the College of Business and Management for three DC-area campuses (DeVry); and conceived and developed numerous new curriculum areas and courses (USDA).  The unifying elements of all these positions have prepared Gunther well for his responsibilities at UMUC: consistently working with and supervising both adjunct and full-time faculty; serving adult learners; and developing an abiding interest in online education.  Gunther holds a PhD in English and American Literature from Brandeis University (2000) and has lived up and down the Eastern seaboard since 1987 (he grew up in Germany and also attended the University of Kent at Canterbury for one year).  He is married and with his wife Lisa have one daughter, Andi, who’s a first-year high school student (as well as two cats).  When not working, Gunther enjoys reading, traveling, running, and watching soccer and baseball (Go Red Sox!).

Erin Hagar,

Senior Instructional Designer
: University of Maryland, Baltimore

Erin Hagar is a Senior Instructional Designer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she supports the Master of Science in Health Science curriculum. She has worked in the field of curriculum, instructional design, and faculty development for almost twenty years, including positions at American University, the World Bank, Montgomery Community College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She holds an M.A. in Spanish from American University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Linda Hodges,

Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs & Director of Faculty Development Center
: University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Linda C. Hodges, Director of the Faculty Development Center, was Director of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University from 2003-2009 before retiring to Maryland. She holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Kentucky and was a faculty member for over 20 years before transitioning into faculty development. Prior to coming to the McGraw Center in 2001 she was the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Agnes Scott College near Atlanta, Georgia. During her faculty tenure at two different institutions she taught a wide range of courses, participated in faculty governance, and served as department chair. In 1999 she was one of 28 faculty chosen nationally to study and assess new pedagogical approaches as a Carnegie Scholar of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She has published widely on her work in faculty development, engaged student learning, and effective teaching practices. Her special interests are in pedagogies of engagement and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Brandy Jenner,

Associate Director for Teaching and Learning Excellence at the Bank of America Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, and Technology
: University of Baltimore

Brandy Jenner is Associate Director for Teaching and Learning Excellence at the Bank of America Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, and Technology at the University of Baltimore. In her current role, Brandy oversees the development and implementation of a comprehensive program for educational development at UB, does research on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), and leads sessions in pedagogy, inclusive and equitable education, and other topics. Prior to coming to UB, Brandy completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the US Army War College. Brandy has worked in educational development, teaching, and student affairs for nearly a decade.

Brandy earned a PhD in Education from the University of California, Irvine in 2018, where she also taught in the School of Education and Division of Undergraduate Education. Brandy is currently engaged in both disciplinary scholarship in the field of higher education and SoTL research related to case-study and problem-based teaching and learning methods. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, and the Journal of Veterans Studies.

Kerrie L. Kephart,

Associate Director for Pedagogical Innovation, Research, and Assessment
: University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Kerrie Kephart is Associate Director for Pedagogical Innovation, Research, and Assessment in the Faculty Development Center, supporting faculty to innovate in their teaching and investigate issues of teaching and learning in their classrooms and disciplines. Her interests in faculty development include the scholarship of teaching and learning, pedagogies of reflection such as journaling and portfolio development, active learning and inquiry-based pedagogies, writing across the curriculum/in the disciplines, and discourses of teaching and learning. She holds a doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a specialization in advanced academic literacy development. Prior to joining the FDC staff, she was Director of the Engineering Communication Program at the University of Washington, Seattle, and prior to that, she was Assistant Professor of ESL/Bilingual Education at the University of Texas at El Paso. In her previous positions, she conducted research studies in innovative teaching methods in the STEM fields and presented a workshop series in writing across the curriculum for faculty across all disciplines. She has also taught a variety of courses in language and literacy development, including academic writing for educators, writing the scientific article, technical communication, English as a second language pedagogy, principles of bilingual education, and discourse analysis.

Tami Kopischke Smith,

Assistant Director, Faculty Programs
: University of Maryland, College Park

Tami works collaboratively with various groups on campus to co-develop TLTC offerings that support faculty in their continued growth in teaching.  She finds professional joy in interweaving the art and science of learning to building faculty efficacy and agency toward equitable teaching and learning.  

Tami earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Educational Psychology, with a specialization in Tests and Measurement, from the University of Virginia, and her B.A. in Human Development from the University of California, San Diego. Before joining the TLTC, she was a tenured professor of education at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD.  At Goucher, she taught a broad range of courses in educational psychology, human development, assessment and data use for improvement, research methods, and multiculturalism in education.  As an affiliate researcher at the Johns Hopkins, Baltimore Education Research Consortium, she participated in research-practitioner partnerships within Baltimore City Public Schools and has conducted a number of studies related to how teachers use data to inform instruction and school climate. Most recently, her scholarship has focused on Improvement Science methodology with which she developed a model for measuring a school’s readiness to adopt change and led a research team in redefining how district leaders assess school quality.  Before her tenure at Goucher, Tami served as the Education Research Program Manager at the University of Maryland, Center for Quality and Productivity where she worked with local districts to assess the impact of their management systems on student achievement.  

Throughout her educational and professional endeavors Tami has maintained a persistent urge to learn from and with others while working toward equitable access to education.  Given her quirky interest in assessment and determination to collect meaningful information she has often been appreciated for making assessment relevant and helpful.  She also has a keen interest in mindfulness.

Melissa Thomas,

Manager, Instructional Design & Delivery and Adjunct Faculty, Communication Arts
: Salisbury University

Melissa Thomas is an alumni of Salisbury University earning both a B.S. in Mathematics and M. Ed. in Post-Secondary Education with a concentration in Distance Learning from the institution. She has worked at SU since 1993 in support of instructional technology and online learning. She leads a team of Instructional Designers focusing on faculty development, pedagogical consultation, effective use of instructional technologies and quality online/hybrid course design. She is an active member of the Faculty Development and Learning with Technology committees on campus as well as a Quality Matters Coordinator and Master Reviewer. She coordinates various professional development events on campus including the annual Teaching and Learning Conference. Thomas continues her passion for teaching and engaging students by teaching part-time in the fields of Communication Arts, Information Technology and Computer Science.

Patricia Westerman,

Assistant Provost for the Faculty Academic Center of Excellence at Towson
: Towson University

Patricia Westerman joined the Towson University community in June 2019 as the inaugural Assistant Provost for the Faculty Academic Center of Excellence and as a tenured professor in the Psychology Department. Before starting at Towson University, she served in a number of academic, administrative, and leadership roles, while teaching for 22 years at Bowie State University (BSU). She served as Director of the BSU Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, as co-Chair of the BSU Middle States Self-Study Steering Committee, and as BSU Faculty Senate Chair.  Most recently, she served as Chair of the Council of University System Faculty (CUSF) for the University System of Maryland. Westerman conducts research on innovation in higher education teaching and learning, as well as higher education leadership and mentoring.