RICHARDSON, Texas (July 5, 2004) – The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) will renovate Kusch Auditorium, the principal lecture hall for students in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NS&M), thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Hillcrest Foundation of Dallas.
Built in the 1970’s and named after UTD’s first Nobel laureate, the late Polykarp Kusch, the auditorium will receive new furniture, carpeting and lighting, as well as improved multimedia capabilities and new interactive learning devices. Adjacent classrooms and a study area will be upgraded as well. The work is expected to be completed in time for the start of the spring 2005 semester classes.
“We are grateful for the generosity and vision of the Hillcrest Foundation, a longtime friend of education in Texas,” said Dr. Cynthia E. Ledbetter, head of the Science/Mathematics Education Department, and one of the members of a team that prepared the grant proposal. “Thousands of UTD students and many others from the broader community who utilize our facilities will benefit from this major update of Kusch Auditorium, which will help ensure that the university continues to offer educational and research programs of the highest quality.”
The Hillcrest Foundation was founded in 1957 by Mrs. W. W. Caruth, Sr.
According to Ledbetter, approximately 2,000 students – primarily enrolled in undergraduate physics and chemistry courses – attend classes in the auditorium each semester. In addition, she expects the upgraded lecture hall to enable NS&M to increase its teacher development activities involving scores of school districts, private schools and community colleges in the North Texas region.
An important aspect of the renovation will be the installation of what is known as a “personal response system,” Ledbetter said. Using hand-held transmitters, each member of the audience will be able to respond privately to a question or prompt, with the responses collected by a portable receiver and the results displayed on a central screen.
Ledbetter said that the interactive devices will offer a host of advantages, including permitting total audience participation in question-and-answer sessions, providing instant feedback on quizzes or opinion polls and promoting proactive participation on the part of shy and disadvantaged students.
“While lecture classes provide a lot of information in a short period of time, the negative aspect of this practice is that students are passive learners,” Ledbetter said. “One method for increasing active learning in large classes is to use a personal response system.”
The renovation will increase the seating capacity of the lecture hall, located in the Founders North building, from 160 to 176.
The auditorium’s namesake was the 1955 Nobel laureate in physics. Kusch came to UTD in 1972 and was a Regental Professor and served on the university’s physics faculty until he retired and was accorded professor emeritus status in 1982.
UTD currently boasts two Nobel winners on its faculty – Dr. Alan G. MacDiarmid, the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology and professor of physics and chemistry, and Dr. Russell A. Hulse, a visiting professor of physics, science and math education.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 13,700 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.