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January 3, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Biology’s Foster Featured in Ohio Magazine’s ‘Excellence in Education’ Issue

Dr. Jodie Foster, shown sitting in her office with a window behind her.

Dr. Jodie Foster

The recipients of this year’s Ohio University Presidential Teacher Award and the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching have another accolade to add to their impressive resumes – being among the approximately 75 educators throughout the state to be featured in Ohio Magazine’s annual “Excellence in Education” issue.

The two OHIO faculty members featured in the magazine are:

  • Dr. Jodie Foster, Associate Lecturer in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Biological Sciences Department and recipient of this year’s Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Dr. Brittany Peterson, Associate Professor in the School of Communication Studies, director of e-learning for the Scripps College of Communication, and recipient of this year’s Presidential Teacher Award

Each December, Ohio Magazine publishes its “Excellence in Education” issue, celebrating outstanding faculty members at Ohio’s public and private higher education institutions. Those institutions are asked to submit faculty for this honor based on the following criteria:

  • An individual’s teaching excellence
  • Participation in professional development activities
  • Interest in student success outside of the classroom or laboratory
  • Distinction as a member of the academic community

OHIO’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost selected the two faculty members being featured this year, noting their research efforts, how they inspire and are inspired by their students, and their various scholarly achievements.

About Jodie Foster

“I am honored to be featured in the magazine,” Foster said upon learning of her inclusion in the “Excellence in Education” issue. “All I try to accomplish is doing a good job teaching. To be rewarded and recognized for a job well done is sort of the icing on the cake. The best reward is always the students succeeding in their chosen career and becoming passionate about the class material.”

Foster’s professional background is a combination art and medicine. She began her career with an art degree, working for her own graphic design company before deciding to pursue a career as a physical therapist. It was her background in art and her ability to equate the human body to an art form that offered her a different perspective in appreciating the human body and the cadaver. Her belief that science is a highly creative field that creates a more rounded approach to critical thinking eventually led her to teaching in higher education.

As an educator, Foster has an approach to teaching that revolves around talking to her students, demonstrating the type of respect she would expect out of her students while working in their chosen healthcare field. She said sometimes there will be 20 students in her office studying during her office hours, a time when she hopes to foster conversation between herself and many students.

“I’m a big believer in talking with students. ‘What worked for you? What didn’t work?’ It’s a continual reflection on what will make the course better each year,” Foster said.

Foster’s dedication to her teaching mission and her students was noted in her nomination for Ohio Magazine’s “Excellence in Education” issue.

“She considers her job complete when she has sold her students not just on the value of learning anatomy and physiology, but also that academics is an exciting, in-depth choice that can lead to career success,” OHIO’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost wrote in nominating Foster for the honor. “Her tireless dedication to her students is extraordinary. She has elevated course content and rigor and yet receives terrific student evaluations.”

Foster teaches an introductory course on anatomy and physiology, instructing several hundred students each year. Three years ago, in an effort to help her students better understand the material, Foster converted her personal lab in Irvine Hall into a teaching lab. The lab houses two cadavers that Foster opens herself, dissecting the skin and musculature to allow her students to actually see the anatomy they are studying. She will be receiving a new cadaver in the next month and plans to let her students help her in preparing the body for teaching purposes.

“I grew so much as a person in college, and we know that the brain is malleable at this age. To be able to be a critical part of somebody’s life for a year and to help them make decisions about their career is very powerful. I take that job extremely seriously,” Foster said, noting the support she’s received over the years from various chairs of her department.

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