Dr. Carol L. (Behnke) Scheidenhelm '69
2021 Recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award for Professional Achievement
Dr. Carol Scheidenhelm distinguished herself as a servant-leader who directed a small staff with a mission to expand the training and quality of faculty who could teach online.
Over the past 30 years, Dr. Scheidenhelm has made significant contributions, in the development and implementation of highly innovative and successful programs in computer-assisted learning.
She started her career in the 1970s as a middle and high school teacher in English and special education in northern Illinois. While obtaining her Ph.D. in English from Northern Illinois University (NIU), she began working in their Network Writing and Research Center, where she seized the opportunity to immerse herself in the burgeoning arena of online pedagogy. At that time, desk-top computing was still in its infancy. Few programs in the country used them to teach composition. Textbooks on the topic were scarcely available and teachers were suspicious or hostile to computers in instruction.
Dr. Scheidenhelm was a neophyte in an emerging field, recognizing the need for faculty development from her experience as a teacher. She understood the potential of the computer to facilitate the teaching mission but also empathized with a recalcitrant or sometimes frightened faculty in the face of new teaching technology.
Not waiting for HTML editing programs to be developed and available, Dr. Scheidenhelm taught herself to code in HTML and created an electronic “web-friendly” syllabus for faculty at Northern Illinois University and then taught her colleagues to use it. Within three years, over 300 courses at NIU were using this format.
Dr. Scheidenhelm was the director of the Office of Learning Technologies and Assessment and the Founding Director of the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy (FCIP) at Loyola University in Chicago (LUC).
Her efforts established LUC’s position as one of the leading institutions in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities with regard to the number of online courses and programs offered by peer Jesuit colleges and universities - with over 50 fully online programs offered at the university upon her retirement and helped establish the institution’s Top 20 position in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs.
Dr. Scheidenhelm was responsible for launching the first program to give faculty the skills to teach through the online learning management system. Over the course of about three months, she ran workshops that provided pedagogical training to nearly 75 percent of Loyola faculty.
During her tenure overseeing the Office of Learning Technologies and Assessment, she established an institution-wide strategy for promoting program- and course-level strategic planning for assessment of student learning based on rubrics and portfolio standards. She also orchestrated the creation of the institution’s Online Teaching Course (OTC), an impactful resource that contributed significantly to the successful growth of the institution’s overall strategy for online and hybrid programming by increasing instructors’ self-efficacy for teaching in the online space.
Dr. Scheidenhelm chaired Loyola’s Academic Technologies Committee, co-chaired the Copyright Committee, was a member of the Focus on Teaching and Learning planning group, and founded the Chicago Area Assessment Group (CAAG), an informal organization of university and college professionals interested in assessment.
Her professional impact extended widely beyond LUC. Dr. Scheidenhelm presented numerous professional papers at local, state, and national conferences, sharing her knowledge on the transition from traditional to contemporary composition pedagogies that emphasize the benefits of computer-assisted teaching and learning.
She has also contributed significantly to the organization of the Supporting Learning and Technology in Education (SLATE) group, which for 17 years has served as a community of practice for Chicago-area higher education staff to share effective practices for supporting technology enhanced teaching and learning. She founded the Chicago Area Assessment Group (CAAG), a community for assessment professionals in the Chicago-area to share practices and thinking around effective strategies for assessing student learning.
She is also a frequent speaker and contributor to the Chicago Area Faculty Development Network and served on the faculty development advisory committee at Concordia University of Wisconsin. Her personal published work can also be found on many diverse topics including, “Walking Away from the Job I Loved” Forbes, April 2018; and “Losing humanities in education is propelling a deficit of empathy” The Hill, April 2018.
Beyond her impact in academia, Dr. Scheidenhelm’s community service includes volunteering at her local food bank and women’s shelter. She knits scarves for the homeless and has served meals through the Ronald McDonald House. She served on the board of Redtwist Theatre in Chicago, volunteered at Summit of Hope – an organization involved in programming for formerly incarcerated individuals - and volunteers for the Osterman Beach cleanup. She enjoys mentoring young colleagues to support their journey in the education sector.
Her desire to mentor, particularly her peer women colleagues, stems from her gratitude to Dr. Viola Wendt, the late Carroll professor of English. She graduated from Carroll in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and physical education. She was an active member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, Union Operating Board and Dorm Council Proctor. Dr. Scheidenhelm lives in northern Illinois.
Eleven peers from the Class of 1969 as well as four additional endorsements from professionals in her field supported the recommendation for this award.