Bethany Usher, associate provost for undergraduate education at George Mason University, has been elected to serve as president of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). Usher will become president-elect on July 1, 2022, taking a seat on CUR’s Executive Board, and succeeding 2022-23 CUR president Ruth Palmer (emeritus College of New Jersey) in the summer of 2023.
"Dr. Usher has led [Mason's] undergraduate program to new heights," said Mason Provost and Executive President Mark R. Ginsberg. "She has led multiple initiatives that have been catalysts for the success of our students while also launching new programs focused on academic achievement, career development, and life success. She has an extraordinary ability to connect with and mentor students while also supporting faculty members. I am very proud of her to be elected as president-elect of the Council on Undergraduate Research and so pleased for both her and the important organization she will help to lead.”
Usher’s vision for her presidency aligns with the CUR 2020-2025 Strategic Goals. Her stance has been outlined to enhance the focus on giving students equitable access to research, sustainably supporting undergraduate student constituents beyond NCUR, growing CUR’s partnerships with other higher education associations that promote high-impact practices anchored by undergraduate research, and advocating for defining the how and why undergraduate research is good for students and faculty with investing in decisions that measure this success.
“Undergraduate research is unique because it combines our students’ curiosity with the discovery mission of our colleges and gives students skills that they can use in their careers and their lives,” said Usher, a biological anthropologist who teaches in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Mason. "CUR and our members have transformed higher education by embedding undergraduate research as an expected part of many students’ experiences, within and beyond the classroom.
Usher added: “CUR is now building undergraduate research as the model inclusive high-impact activity. In addition to making undergraduate research available to students at all institutions and in every discipline, we need to look to intentionally integrate it with other high-impact practices, including internships, community engagement, study abroad, entrepreneurship, and capstones. I look forward to seeing our vision of enriching society through undergraduate research to continue to emerge through our shared commitment.”
Founded in 1978, CUR is an organization of more than 700 institutions and more than 13,000 individual, institutional, and affiliate members from around the world that share a focus on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity opportunities for faculty and students.
“Dr. Bethany Usher’s commitment to and experience with key CUR issues such as diversity, mentoring, and support will provide invaluable benefits to the organization and the wider undergraduate research community," said CUR executive officer Lindsay Currie. "Her engagement with CUR for 20+ years, including service on the CUR Council and Executive Board, receiving CUR’s inaugural Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment (AURA) in 2015, and so much more, attest to her dedication to the mission. This passion and her leadership will act as a needed asset in continuing to achieve CUR’s mission to advance undergraduate research.”