Donor Spotlight

by Alyssa Seisser
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Exterior of the main entrance to the Claxton Education Building

Saundra McGuire

Saundra McGuire, professor emerita of chemistry and director emerita of the Center for Academic Success at Louisiana State University was recognized among the 2022 Accomplished Alumni by UT. McGuire earned her PhD in chemical education from UT and was awarded the Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Professional Promise.

“I’m so humbled and honored to have been named a recipient of this award,” said McGuire. “I had no idea and it was a complete shock and surprise.”

McGuire is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, but she may be best known for her books, Teach Students How to Learn (2015) and Teach Yourself How to Learn (2018). It’s clear when meeting McGuire that her passion lies in helping all students embrace what they are taught in the classroom.

Her recognition as an Accomplished Alumna came at the 2022 UT Transforming the World virtual conference in March, where she was the keynote speaker. The conference focused on deepening and enhancing student learning by challenging innovative teaching and learning techniques as well as sparking new ideas in the profession.

McGuire’s successes are numerous. She was listed in the 2020 Marquis Who’s Who in America. In addition, McGuire is an elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations.

She’s also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering in a White House Oval Office ceremony.

“I really want to thank UT for honoring me with this award,” said McGuire. “I will do everything in my power to continue to represent the university and do the things I do that will help all students learn.”

Gary and Becki Blauser

Gary and Becki Blauser are no strangers when it comes to service to the university and to the college. Blauser graduated from UT with a degree in education and a major in social studies, and he briefly taught social studies at high schools in Knox County and Columbus, Ohio, before transitioning into administrative roles within companies that promote education. He retired as a senior administrator for a company that leads in hands-on learning. At ETA hand2mind, Blauser worked as the national sales manager and then senior vice president of sales.

An assortment of publication jobs led to Blauser’s administrative rank at ETA hand2mind. His first peek into publishing was with Ginn & Company—now Pearson Education— as an elementary and secondary education sales representative. He worked at another textbook publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in the area of standardized testing as regional vice president before becoming the national sales manager of a subsidiary company, Riverside Publishing. Prior to joining the company from which he would retire, Blauser served as vice president of Open Court Publishing, which produces philosophy-based books.

Blauser serves on the Dean’s Board of Advisors for the college, for which he and Becki also fund an endowed scholarship. In addition, he was chair of the Dean’s Board of Advisors and recently served on the UT Alumni Board of Directors.

Becki is a 1967 alumna with a master’s in child development and family relations. As a long-time fourth-grade teacher in Geneva, Illinois, she devoted her life to elementary education and has made a positive impact on many young lives.

Brent And Rachel Trentham

Brent and Rachel Trentham are longtime supporters of the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies (KRSS). Trentham graduated from UT with a degree in mathematics, serves on the college’s Board of Advisors, and is a private wealth advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services. Tennessee Orange also runs deep in Rachel’s side of the family. Her mother, Jane Ellen “Holly” Hollingsworth, became department head of cytology at UT Medical Center in 1957 and was one of the first cytotechnologists in East Tennessee.

At a recent dinner, the Trenthams surprised the attendees with the gift of the Dr. David Bassett KRSS Impact Fund. The gift is intended to support the mission, purpose, and impact priorities of the department, while honoring the spirit of former department head, David Bassett, who joined UT in 1988 as an assistant professor. Basset held a number of leadership positions, becoming KRSS department head in 2018 until his retirement in 2022.

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