Shannon Jacobson

Christine Matyear, energetic teacher, cat-lover and skeet-shooter, died Thursday morning.

Matyear, a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, died while she was home with her family after fighting ovarian cancer for several months, department chair Craig Champlin said.

Matyear started working at UT in 1998. While teaching in the communications sciences and disorders department, she also taught the subject’s honors sequence, the Senior Fellows Program and signature courses in the School of Undergraduate Studies.

Champlin said Matyear advocated for students and took the vocation of teaching seriously.

“She had high standards and integrity,” Champlin said. “She was very conscious about insuring that learning was occurring. I think students really responded to that.”

Shannon Jacobson, communications sciences and disorders senior, said Matyear always had a smile on her face.

“To me, she embodied the phrase ‘age is just a number,’” Jacobson said. “She was a really passionate person in everything she did, from her cats, to her grandkids and to the classes that she taught.”

Jacobson said she took three classes with Matyear, who always made class engaging.

“Her classes were definitely tough, but they were really fair,” Jacobson said. “Her tests were notoriously hard, but I never felt like it was a burden to study, because she presented the subject material in such a knowledgeable and enthusiastic way.“

Allie Jensen, communications sciences and disorders sophomore, said Matyear was one of a kind.

“She was always super energetic in lecture and made a difficult subject like hearing science easy to understand,” Jensen said. “She had a personal story for every subject we talked about that complemented the massive amounts of information we were learning.”

Jacobson said Matyear also loved her cats. She said she had friends who took an online class with Matyear, and the professor would hold up her cats to the webcam.

Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, said Matyear was of “inestimable” value to the college.

“Her generosity of spirit and breadth of vision will be profoundly missed by faculty and students alike,” Hart said.

Champlin said memorial services will be announced soon.

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Senior lecturer dies, known for enthusiasm: Students laud professor's care, accessibility

Undergraduate researchers from across the 40 Acres will be able to earn a certificate in research for the first time, after the Senate of College Councils unanimously passed a resolution.

The Senate and the Undergraduate Research Council created a resolution this semester calling for an undergraduate research certificate intended for student researchers at UT. The resolution passed 15 to nothing at a Senate meeting held Thursday. When the certificate program goes into affect will be dependent on students working with administrators to create the program, said Senate spokesperson Michael Morton.

A certificate program will give recognition to undergraduates who take the initiative to get involved in extracurricular research, said Shannon Jacobson, a communication sciences and disorders junior. Jacobson is researching how bilinguals acquire, organize and assess two languages in order to target language milestones in typically developing bilingual children and identify ways to determine language impairments.

Jacobson said undergraduate researchers who dedicate time outside of the classroom should have a credential to show on their degree.

“Undergraduate researchers dedicate hours of time outside of the classroom to working on important projects,” she said. “That achievement deserves some sort of acknowledgement and a certificate would do just that.”

Currently, there is no formal research-based program at the University that is available to all undergraduates, said biology sophomore Ryan Hirsch, co-chair of the undergraduate research council.

“Creating a research certificate program can really make undergraduate research a seamless part of the academic culture here at UT,” Hirsch said. “A program like this would enable all types of students to add a sense of practicality to their education because research promotes further exploration and a deeper understanding of a topic.”

Students could yield significant benefits from this program such as improved academic performance, higher retention and graduation rates and a greater development of critical thinking, Hirsch said. Consolidating research methods and inquiry-based courses into a transcript-recognized academic certificate will facilitate engagement in undergraduate research, expand access to research opportunities and introduce students to the research process early in their undergraduate careers, she said.

The certificate program could also encourage students to enroll in more research-based courses by enhancing the visibility and support for undergraduate research participation, Hirsch said. The program that the resolution calls for will also be cost efficient because it will draw from resources already available at the University, she said.

Printed on Tuesday, October 8, 2011 as: Student researchers to be acknowledged