Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: About Us

Moody College of Communication

About CATE

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 inclusive classrooms. 

We are partners working in the classroom to support new practices to promote continuous focus on innovation. 

The CATE team is available to support you!

Book a consultation with Mary or Shelly.

CATE Services

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.

Book a consultation with Mary.
Book a consultation with 

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.

Read more about how to use technology in your classroom. 

We are happy to review your syllabus and Canvas course and offer tips and tricks to "kick it up a notch". Book a consultation with Mary or Shelly.

You can also read some tips about how to design your course.

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

Read more about how to design your course or book a consultation with Mary or Shelly.

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

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.

Read more about new faculty support and book a consultation with Mary or Shelly.


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.


  • 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.

You are welcome to download and share this one-pager (.pdf) about CATE:

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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 enjoys working with faculty to understand their needs and the needs of their students. Her grounding in evidence-based practices is critical to helping faculty craft tailored solutions for online, hybrid, and face-to-face instruction. Mary received a B.A. in psychology from Austin College and an M.A. in Instructional Technology from the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time, she hangs out with her dogs, Violet and Gus.


Rachelle (Shelly) Furness is the Instructional Designer of the Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence at Moody College of Communication.

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!).

Larissa Aguilar outside smiling on a bridge with arms outstretched

Larissa Aguilar, Undergraduate Learning Assistant Coordinator

Larissa is an undergraduate student in the Moody College of Communication getting her BS degree in Public Relations and Radio-Television-Film. Her desired career is in entertainment PR, but she also enjoys writing, specifically journalism and screenwriting. Larissa was an Undergraduate Learning Assistant for three semesters, and learned how to create course assignments, mentor students, and network with key personnel in the field of advertising law and ethics. In her free time, she enjoys watching horror movies and collecting squishmallows. She is excited to be the first ULA Coordinator of the CATE team and use her experience to help guide the largest cohort of ULA’s to date.

Silvia DalBen Furtado, Graduate Assistant at CATE

Silvia DalBen Furtado, Graduate Assistant 

Silvia is a PhD student and teaching assistant in the School of Journalism and Media, where she researches automated journalism and the use of AI in investigative reporting. She is currently a teaching assistant in Visual Communications and worked for one year as a TA of Reporting Images. Originally from Brazil, Silvia worked as a multimedia reporter at Portal Uai and as an executive producer of videos, films, games, apps and VRs at D2R Studios. She is excited to be part of the CATE team supporting inclusive and innovative teaching among Moody Faculty.

Jessica Garcia, Social Media at the Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence

Jessica Garcia, Social Media Coordinator

Jessica is a junior in the Moody College of Communication, studying journalism and English. In the future, she hopes to work as a copywriter for a local Austin company or in social media. She enjoys the hands-on nature of Moody classes and is excited to help the CATE team on various social media platforms. In her free time, Jessica likes to explore Austin with friends and binge-watch T.V. shows (currently Grey's Anatomy).


Anya Swanson, white woman shown from shoulders up smiling, shoulder length brown hair, blue background

Anya Swanson, Videographer 

Anya is a graduate student in the Department of Radio-Television-Film getting her MFA degree in Film Production. Her main focus is directing but also enjoys producing and editing film projects. Originally from Pennsylvania, she holds a B.A. in Film from Penn State University and spends her free time exploring Austin. She is excited to be a part of the CATE team creating media that showcases and helps the faculty of Moody College.

Contact Us

Email us with questions, to request a training, or to make an appointment.