Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

VPUG Candidate Profile: Catherine Schaeff

Catherine “Cathy” Schaeff, an associate professor in the Department of Biology at AU, spoke of the importance of revamping campus mental health services at her VPUG town hall Feb. 2.

Schaeff has been teaching at the University since 1993. During this time, Schaeff has held chair and co-chair positions on many committees, including the University Student Learning and Assessment Task Force and the Faculty Senate’s Joint Senate Committee on Curriculum and Academic Affairs. Schaeff also served as the chair of the Department of Biology from 2000 to 20007.

In addition, Schaeff received the College of Arts and Science’s 2008 Associate Professor Award, and she was honored with AU’s Outstanding Administrator Award in 2005.

Shaeff talked heavily about the importance of students practicing mental health care. With increasing mental health problems among college students, including stress and anxiety, she hopes to have professors teach time management skills in class and to offer one credit skills-based courses, she said. She said some universities portray the average student to have a job, internship, on-campus involvement as well as a full academic course load, causing students to become more stressed.

“I think we have to change the context of how we think about success, so you can still be brilliant and do a lot of things -- all the things that will set you up for the next thing, and [we need to] keep thinking about how to make sure it’s sustainable and [that you] have the support you need as you need it and make it OK to get support,” Schaeff said.

Students attending the town hall questioned how she will make the University more diverse and whether she would develop course curriculum that would focus on different cultures.

As associate dean, Schaeff tried a couple classes about these topics and no one enrolled in them, she said. If more students become interested, AU can hire more faculty to teach those courses, she said.


David Lim contributed to this report.

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