By Robert W. Dalton

Dr. Lori Cruze is always looking for ways to make things better, both in her classroom and the world around her.

Cruze is Wofford College’s recipient of the 2022 South Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities’ Excellence in Teaching Award. The organization recognized faculty from each of its 21-member schools. This is the 15th year SCICU has recognized faculty with the awards, which have rigorous guidelines and come with a $3,000 professional development grant.

“I’m honored, but also humbled because I’m surrounded by excellent teachers here at Wofford,” says Cruze, assistant professor of biology. “It means a lot to be recognized for doing what I love to do. I’m always trying to improve, taking the material and making it more digestible for the students. Every time you teach a class you find things that might work better next time if we approached it this way or did it that way.”

Cruze is teaching genetics for the first time this semester. Her courses also include biological inquiry, human physiology and comparative reproductive biology.

She also is leading a group of students researching the reproduction and survival of songbirds in the Upstate. They recently installed 30 birdhouses at the Milliken Arboretum, and Cruze is delighted that more than half are already occupied.

Dr. John Moeller, professor and chair of biology, nominated Cruze for the award. He says her enthusiasm for teaching impacts everyone in the department.

“Dr. Cruze creates a welcoming learning environment from day one and then inspires her students to meet the challenging material throughout the course,” says Moeller. “I think it becomes clear to most students that she knows the material, but she also spends considerable time creating ways to help them understand the complexity of biology.”

Cruze arrived at Wofford in 2015. She previously worked at the Medical University of South Carolina as a postdoctoral fellow and research assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Tim Schmitz, interim provost, says Wofford is fortunate to have Cruze.

“In her career at Wofford thus far, Dr. Cruze has made an extraordinary contribution – to both her students and her colleagues,” Schmitz says. “She is an excellent teacher and a tireless supporter of our biology students, and as a faculty leader who has served on the President’s Advisory Council and co-directed our new faculty mentoring program, she has demonstrated how lucky we are to have her as a colleague.”