Newsletter Article

The Retirement of Beth Kerr: A Career Marked by Outstanding Teaching and Service

Photo:  Professor Beth Kerr
Photo:  Professor Beth Kerr

After 37 years with at the University of Washington, Associate Professor Beth Kerr will be retiring in June 2011. Beth came to the University of Washington first as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, in 1974. She was Department Chair in 1984 when the Kinesiology program was terminated during a period of strong budgetary cutbacks. Beth moved to the Department of Psychology where we have been fortunate to have her since. The department switch was seamless, given that her Ph.D. was in Psychology (University of Oregon), and her research focusing on human motor control, learning and attention fit perfectly within the Department’s Cognitive and Perception Area.

Beth has been a strong leader in the Department, serving as Associate Chair since 1988 and playing a major role in developing and overseeing the Department’s undergraduate curriculum.  During the time that Beth was Associate Chair of the department, she oversaw major restructuring and sequencing of the undergraduate major.  Along with Steve Buck, Beth provided the vision of undergraduate education in psychology that is reflected in our current curriculum.  She implemented broad changes in the required core curriculum and methodology courses, and restructured the courses to provide logical sequencing.  It is not suprising that this last decade and a half has seen the psychology major become one of the most sought after programs of study at the University of Washington.   All the while, Beth also championed the idea that all students benefit from knowledge of the scientific study of behavior, and she worked to maintain the excellent general education curriculum of the Department.

Beth has been a tireless supporter of outstanding teaching, leading the selection of distinguished teaching awards for graduate students and the creation of teaching resource materials for instructors.  Beth also found time to provide input on everything from curriculum development to student conduct issues and her advice has been sought by many of her colleagues in and beyond the Department.   In recent years, she has spearheaded efforts to clarify learning goals for the Department as a whole and for individual courses.  There is not an area in our undergraduate curriculum that has not been made better by her vision, her hard work, and her steady hand.

We will be fortunate to be able to continue to draw on Beth’s expertise as she transitions into her status as Emeritus Associate Professor.