Michael Wysession, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been appointed executive director of the university’s Teaching Center, effective July 1.
The appointment is the culmination of a search process that welcomed applications from all tenured faculty at Washington University. The search committee, appointed by Provost Holden Thorp, was seeking a leader with a passion for teaching, the ability to work across academic disciplines, a track record of innovation in teaching and learning, and an interest in current pedagogical research.
Wysession, who will serve as executive director for a three-year renewable term, will oversee the center’s day-to-day management, including its budget, personnel, programs, facilities and communications, and he will manage the administration of both academic and classroom services.
“We could not have found a more capable person to take the helm of the Teaching Center at this time,” Thorp said. “I am grateful to the search committee — especially Marion Crain for her capable leadership — and to all who expressed interest in assuming this important role. Under Michael’s direction, I’m confident we will bring new ideas to fruition to take our teaching enterprise to an even higher level.”
A renowned expert on Earth’s inner structure, Wysession created one of the first maps of Earth’s core-mantle boundary, some 2,000 miles below our feet. He also is a national leader in science education and literacy, co-authoring more than 30 textbook volumes and the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards. Wysession’s research has been honored with a Packard Foundation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and his education and outreach have been honored by the Frank Press Award from the Seismological Society of America and the inaugural Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union.
Wysession earned his bachelor’s degree in geophysics from Brown University and his doctorate from Northwestern University. He has been a member of the Washington University faculty since 1991.
The Teaching Center’s mission is to improve teaching and learning by integrating pedagogy and scholarship with classroom design. Its programs and services focus on three interconnected areas: Creating a collaborative teaching culture; advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning; and designing flexible, intuitive classrooms. Working with faculty from all schools at Washington University, the center designs and evaluates evidence-based pedagogy and provides formalized training in effective teaching for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.