Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: About Us

Moody College of Communication

About CATE


The mission of Moody College is to advance and enhance society through the study and practice of human communication. Aligning with the College’s mission, CATE will promote a culture of teaching excellence among all instructors and enable effective teaching practices to ensure the desired learning outcomes among students in preparing them to change the world. As Moody faculty, you have access to collaborative instructional design support in a variety of ways. CATE staff are: 

  • Critical Friends - We are thought partners for planning activities, designing courses, crafting effective syllabi, and general questions. 
  • Canvas Advisors - We are advisors on using Canvas features expertly to enhance learning and grading processes. 
  • Learner-centered Approach Coaches - We are resources for a wide array of protocols and approaches to increase student engagement with content in welcoming classrooms. 
  • Cofacilitators - We are partners working in the classroom to support new practices to promote continuous focus on innovation. 

The CATE Team is here to support you! Schedule a CATE consultation.


  • Foster innovation and collaboration in teaching.
  • Support new instructors in designing courses and developing teaching proficiency.
  • Facilitate implementation of effective teaching practices.
  • Identify and recognize excellent teaching within the college.
  • Enhance the visibility of excellent teaching in order to propagate best practice.
  • Manage and support strategic learning initiatives.


Individual Instructional Consultation
Experienced teaching and learning consultants are available to meet with you individually to discuss your teaching goals and help craft tailored solutions. Whether you’re facing a specific challenge, need a sounding board, or want to explore new ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Learning Technology Support
UT Austin supports a robust set of tools to enable you to create an engaging and dynamic learning environment. CATE can provide support in using educational technology and online learning tools to enhance and deliver your course. 

Course Design
If you need to design a new course (or redesign an existing course), we can help you follow a structured design process, keeping universal design teaching practices and accessibility standards in mind. 

Course Review
We are happy to review your syllabus and Canvas course and offer tips and tricks to "kick it up a notch."

Departmental Programming
Invite the CATE team to present to your faculty or graduate students on any number of topics such as student engagement, creating and using rubrics, building community, promoting academic integrity, and more.

New Faculty Onboarding
CATE offers trainings for new faculty and graduate students at the start of each long semester. We are also available for individual sessions to help new faculty get off to a good start! 

CATE Reviews

CATE staff have been a wonderful resource to me...They have had immense patience and a willingness to help which is remarkable. They never fail to convey to me that they are keenly interested in the issues and problems that I bring to them, and they are indefatigable in searching for solutions.

Meme Drumwright, Advertising & PR

It was great to have Moody resources when we were scrambling just to keep our heads above water. But now it’s imperative to be proactive about pedagogy and engage in the best practices – CATE directly leads us in this mission. CATE makes Moody the home of better educators.

Kathleen McElroy, Journalism and Media

As a professor who likes to try new things, it's reassuring to know CATE always has my back. I couldn't do what I do without them. [CATE] is a one-stop shop for a professor who wants to shine. At the end of the day, teaching is about engaging your students, and that is where CATE makes a difference for all of us.

Joe Cutbirth, Communication Studies

The CATE Team

Shelly Furness

Shelly Furness, Instructional Designer

Rachelle (Shelly) is an experienced secondary and higher education professional. Her experience in education and business drives a passion for project-based, student-centered, authentic instructional pathways. Shelly delights in collaborating with faculty to design purposeful, engaging, and innovative curriculum to support student growth. Shelly received her B.A. in English at the University of Houston. Her M.Ed. in Secondary Education and Ph.D. in Developmental Education – literacy were completed at Texas State University. In her free time, she loves to visit family in the Netherlands or to continue her quest to experience every continent (3 more to go!).

Kat Williams

Kat Williams, Graduate Assistant

Kat is a PhD student and Assistant Instructor in the Department of Communication Studies. Specializing in Rhetoric, Language, and Political Communication, her research interests lie primarily at the intersection of social justice and popular culture. Since 2019, Kat has been a Teaching Assistant for several undergraduate-level courses and loves the diversity of topics and knowledge that Moody College has to offer UT students. In her free time, she enjoys playing Animal Crossing and hanging out with her two cats.

Mary Crawford outside with two black and white border collies

Mary Crawford, Director

Mary is the Founding Director of the Moody College Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence. She received a B.A. in psychology from Austin College and an M.A. in Instructional Technology from the University of Texas at Austin. She enjoyed working with faculty to understand their needs and the needs of their students. Her grounding in evidence-based practices was critical to helping faculty craft tailored solutions for online, hybrid, and face-to-face instruction. Since her retirement in 2024, she has been enjoying her time with her dogs, Violet and Gus.