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UB Honors Beth Tauke for Three Decades of Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring

By Madelyn McClellan

Published June 13, 2014

Beth Tauke, associate professor of architecture and associate dean for academic affairs, has been awarded the University at Buffalo’s President Emeritus and Mrs. Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring in recognition of her dedicated and inspired service to students over the past three decades.

UB has honored Beth Tauke for her distinguished career of undergraduate teaching and mentoring, which has touched the lives of thousands of UB students over the past three decades.

UB has honored Beth Tauke for her distinguished career of undergraduate teaching and mentoring, which has touched the lives of thousands of UB students over the past three decades. Photo by Dylan Buyskes, Onion Studio

The distinction, UB’s highest award for undergraduate teaching and mentoring, sets the bar for faculty excellence in advancing student potential as young scholars and future leaders. It was founded by the late UB President Emeritus Martin Meyerson and his wife, Margy Ellen.

As a member of the UB architecture faculty since 1985, Tauke is widely regarded across UB and the School of Architecture and Planning as a pillar of knowledge, optimism and inspiration for students.   

“Beth Tauke is a gifted and dedicated teacher whose pedagogical practice over nearly thirty years has touched thousands of undergraduates at UB, but also many alumni, colleagues at UB and elsewhere, would-be design students in high school, and the design professions across the nation,” writes Dean Robert G. Shibley in his nomination submission for Tauke. “At the core of her practice is a tireless commitment to creating world-class lectures, seminars and studios in which undergraduate students are encouraged to engage in critical thinking, creative exploration, research and design.”

Among other things, Tauke coordinates the Buffalo School’s first-year undergraduate design studios for more than 100 students annually, teaches large lecture courses with more than 200 students a year from across the university, leads small upper-level seminars, mentors thesis students, and provides informal academic and career counseling to all students who stop by her door.  

A favorite professor, mentor and reviewer at annual studio critiques, Tauke has a profound impact on the student body not only through her teaching style but her attitude toward the students.

“Beth is known around the school for her incredible thoughtfulness and devotion to student achievement, but also for taking the time to connect with students on an academic and a personal level,” says Kristen Gabriele, a Master of Architecture student and 2013 graduate of the Buffalo School’s BS in Architecture program. “For me, that relationship is a huge part of the learning process, and part of the many reasons that Beth has made my education experience at UB so wonderful.”

Adds Timothy Ung, who completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture at UB and now practices in Buffalo: “From the moment that I met Beth in her office, she has been my guide and best friend. Her contagious happiness and excitement encourages everyone that she encounters to have fun, laugh, and be full of optimism.”

Shannon Phillips, assistant dean for graduate education, who works closely with Tauke in providing student support and mentorship, states: “Professor Tauke is particularly adept in teaching her undergraduate students how to persist, how to trust their creativity, and how to develop themselves fully as persons. She has an uncanny ability to be simultaneously critical and optimistic, passionate and insightful, innovative and sensible.”

An internationally regarded scholar on design education, Tauke is affiliated with the Buffalo School’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), the nation’s leading research center on universal design, or “design for all.” She also serves as director of the Universal Design University Education Consortium, a national group of educators whose mission is to promote inclusive design practices.

As associate dean of academic affairs, Tauke has led the Buffalo School’s recruitment programs, including its efforts to attract an increasingly diverse and international student base.  

Her influence is without bounds, reaching into the Buffalo area and beyond. Tauke actively engages in the Buffalo School’s efforts to build and diversify the architecture education pipeline. She is a former coordinator and ongoing participant in Architecture + Education, a partnership among the Buffalo Architecture Foundation, the Buffalo School, Buffalo Public Schools and local practitioners to expose the city’s grade-schoolers to design education.

Tauke is also consulted by universities across the country in the evaluation and redesign of architecture programs and serves as a teaching mentor to her colleagues here at UB. She initiated the Buffalo School’s partnership with seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish a creative environment for student collaboration and the exchange of teaching practices between architecture schools.  

Also within Buffalo, she is a strong advocate for the exploration and use of the well-known grain silos in Silo City. She recently spawned a series of design studios within the Buffalo School that challenged students to actively explore the reuse of these Buffalo icons while applying universal design principles.   

Her relationship with students continues as they go on to graduate school and advance their professional careers, with Tauke serving as a mentor to countless Buffalo School alumni around the world.

Tauke was recognized during UB’s annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence, on April 23, 2014. Additional recipients of the 2014 award were Stephen Free, PhD, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Rajendram Rajnarayanan, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.