Converse associate professor of biology Dr. Edna J. Steele was honored by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) with the 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award on April 16. A member of the faculty from each of SCICU’s twenty member institutions is nominated for the award according to rigorous guidelines, honored at a special dinner and awarded a $3000 professional development grant.
“Edna Steele is a role model for her students, living her passion for the wonders of biology…”
“Dr. Steele holds a deep commitment to the advancement of women in science which inspires her teaching and the achievements of all her students,” says President Betsy Fleming. Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Barker adds, “Edna Steele is a role model for her students, living her passion for the wonders of biology; and for her colleagues, as teacher, scholar, and mentor.”
SCICU established the annual awards because, “The hallmark of South Carolina’s private non-profit colleges and universities is their emphasis on individualized learning and student achievement. This can only be accomplished by a faculty of the highest quality working in a supportive environment that encourages and fosters serious inquiry, critical thinking, and a broader understanding of the world in which we live. The honorees represent many different academic disciplines and bring a rich diversity of education, experience, and interests to our campuses.”
SCICU notes the common threads that weave their way through this distinguished group of academicians. “They first and foremost are teachers who come to our liberal arts institutions to work one-on-one with students whom they also serve as advisors, mentors, and friends. They are dedicated and committed professionals who have worked long and hard to be the best in their particular academic disciple in order to instruct and guide future generations as their life’s work. They are value-centered, passionate, creative, and caring.”
Dr. Steele joined the Converse College faculty in 1997 and has taught a wide range of biology courses, mentored students in professional level undergraduate research, and developed innovative interdisciplinary courses. She serves as student advisor to students in all of the medically-related advising tracks, guiding students headed for medical school, pharmacy school, and veterinary school, as well as students in our challenging dual degree program in nursing with Vanderbilt University. She does all of this while maintaining a fascinating research program. Not only does she publish and present on a regular basis, her students do as well under her inspiration and guidance.
Dr. Steele was the 2007 recipient of Converse’s Joe Ann Lever Award of Excellence, a particularly prestigious award because it is bestowed by the members of the senior class to one person who has done the most to enhance the quality of the student experience at the college. Students will comment on her course evaluations that “this was the best course ever!”—something one hears now and then but something seen on Dr. Steele’s evaluations nearly every term.
Whether it is explaining the complexities of contemporary genetics to non-science majors or making the biochemistry of cellular respiration—an intimidating subject to master—the most interesting thing you have heard all day, Edna Steele makes biology happen at Converse.