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Center for Teaching Excellence

Faculty and Staff

The faculty and staff of the CTE pursue ongoing professional development in order to stay abreast of current trends in higher education and specific CTE programming areas. Individual staff members seek out research and publication opportunities in their areas of expertise, in order to contribute to new knowledge and establish CTE as statewide and national leader in the field.


Augie Grant

August (Augie) Grant, Director

Augie Grant has been teaching at the university level since 1983. Grant earned his Ph.D. at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, and has spent the past three decades teaching, consulting, and researching emerging communication technologies and their application to business, education, and social institutions. Grant is best known as editor of Communication Technology Update and Fundamentals, which he created in 1992. In addition to exploring new communication technologies, Grant's research explores media audience behavior, convergent journalism, radio and television broadcasting, and applications of network analysis to the study of media organizations and audiences. Grant is past chair of the University of South Carolina Faculty Senate and is past president of the Broadcast Education Association.

Nate Carnes

Nate Carnes, Associate Director

Nate Carnes is the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. In addition to three education degrees and a permanent Ohio teaching certificate, he earned his Ph.D. in Education Administration with an emphasis in science education at Miami University (OH). His teaching performances, that span almost 40 years, have resulted in awards and citations of teaching excellence at the University of South Carolina, state, regional and international levels. Among these citations, he is the recipient of the prestigious 2007 ASTE Science Teacher Educator of the Year, a recognition of international distinction; South Carolina Association for Middle Level Education 2018 Jennifer L. Wilson Teaching Excellence; and the College of Education 2011 Lee Maidment Spirit of Service awards. His scholarly activities explore pedagogical issues and innovations within and beyond science education.

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Aisha Haynes, Assistant Director

Aisha Haynes is the Assistant Director at the USC Center for Teaching Excellence. She oversees the design, creation, delivery and ongoing improvement of distributed learning (online and blended) delivery methods. Haynes is a certified Quality Matters Peer and Master Reviewer, and has earned Online Teaching certifications from the Online Learning Consortium. She teaches technology courses for the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management and Palmetto College. She also teaches Dissertation Preparation courses for the Curriculum Studies program in the College of Education. Her research interests include: instructional design in online learning environments, online course accessibility, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), learning styles, and collaboration and engagement in online learning environments.

In 2014, Haynes established the Dr. Aisha S. Haynes Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is awarded to first generation/low-income college students in TRiO Programs (Opportunity Scholars Program) at USC. More specifically, the scholarship is awarded to rising seniors who have at least a 3.0 GPA and who have shown exemplary university or community service.

Elina Levina

Elina Levina, Faculty Mentor

Elina Levina joined the Department of Biological Sciences at USC in 2012. She coordinates Introductory Biology Labs (BIOL 101L). More than 1500 undergraduate students are enrolled in 60+ sections of BIOL 101L every year. Levina graduated magna cum laude from Moscow state University with MSc in Biochemistry. She received her PhD in Biology from Cancer Research Center in Moscow, Russia. She has more than 15 years of international research experience in the field of cancer biology. Elina Levina is a recipient of 2015 Instructor Professional Development Award. She won a Teaching Innovation grant for Flipped Course Development in 2015/2016. She served as an invited member of College of Arts and Sciences Task Force on Teaching Innovation and Enhanced Student Learning. She is a faculty mentor for the Center for Teaching Excellence and leads the Community of Practice for Faculty Coordinators of Large and Multi-Section Courses.

Karen Edwards

Karen Edwards, Faculty Mentor

Karen Edwards is a senior instructor in the Department of Retailing, where she teaches retail- and law-related courses in both online and face-to-face formats. Edwards is certified by Quality Matters to review and assess the quality of online courses offered by higher education institutions. She earned her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. She is a frequent presenter and past Associate Director for Distributed Learning Pedagogy at USC's Center for Teaching Excellence. Edwards is a faculty mentor for the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Stephanie Milling

Stephanie Milling, Faculty Mentor

Stephanie Milling is a faculty mentor for the Center for Teaching Excellence. She is the Associate Chair and Undergraduate Director of the Department of Theatre and Dance, as well as the Interim Administrative Coordinator of the Dance Program and the Head of Dance Education. Originally from Texas, Dr. Milling left home at fourteen to attend the Walnut Hill School for the Performing and Visual Arts and graduated with honors in dance. Milling also completed her pre-professional training at prestigious programs such as the Boston Ballet School, the Houston Ballet Academy, and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal, Canada. Since her performing career, she has taught in a wide variety of artistic and educational environments, including company classes for Dallas Black Dance Theatre I and II, several public schools within the New York City Department of Education, Texas Christian University, Texas Woman’s University, and the University of North Texas. She also served in the capacity of Assistant Dean for the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University prior to her appointment at the University of South Carolina.

Raymond Thompson

Raymond Thompson, Faculty Mentor

Raymond (Ray) W. Thompson facilitates FLIP, Focus on Learning, Innovation and Pedagogy, a faculty discussion group, ideas lab and learning community focused on topics related to the theory and practice of teaching and learning. Thompson is a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Undergraduate Director in the Department of Exercise Science. He has taught large-enrollment courses for over 10 years and currently employs evidence-based instructional practices (formative assessments, peer to peer feedback, one-minute paper) in his Anatomy and Physiology I and II courses to supplement traditional lectures.  Trained initially as an exercise physiologist and later trained in cell biology, Thompson draws from a broad back ground which helps convey concepts in the classroom. His research interests involve helping undergraduate and graduate students explore risks and prevalence of orthopedic injuries in non-contact athletic scenarios and determining methods to prevent future injury.

Instructional Design Team

Lydia Frass

Lydia Frass, Senior Instructional Designer

Lydia Frass is an Instructional Designer in the USC Center for Teaching Excellence. She is currently working with faculty in online course design and development and quality assurance reviews. In addition, she is facilitating our Instructional Designer's Community of Practice. Lydia holds a PhD in Adult Education and MPH from The University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining CTE, she coordinated the South Carolina Public Health Training Center which provided professional development opportunities for current and future public health practitioners. 

Gloria Washington

Gloria Washington, Instructional Designer

Gloria Washington is an instructional designer at the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE)  with 21 years of experience in higher education at the University of South Carolina. She is a Blackboard Certified Trainer and a Blackboard Exemplary Course Program Reviewer. Gloria completed the Quality Matters’ Applying the QM Rubric and Higher Education Peer Reviewer courses.  Prior to coming to CTE, she worked in Teaching and Technology Services and as a Technology Director for the Ted Mimms Foreign Language Learning Center. She serves as Associate Editor for the International Journal of Innovative Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Gloria holds a Doctor of Education, a Master of Arts in Education, and a Master of Business Administration. Her expertise is in the pedagogical use of technology to support teaching and learning. Gloria’s instructional design philosophy is “pedagogy first, technology second.”

Casey Carroll

Casey Carroll, Instructional Designer

Casey Carroll is an instructional designer with the Center for Teaching Excellence at USC. Casey works with all who teach to support the creation of innovative and accessible courses and the continued development of teaching skills. He also works with instructors teaching online to help with course design and learning technologies. In addition, he facilitates our Instructional Design Community of Practice. Prior to joining CTE, Casey designed curriculum for professional training and leadership development. He has also taught First-Year English and English as a Second Language at the University of South Carolina. Casey holds a master’s degree in linguistics from USC and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and psychology from Pacific Lutheran University. He also holds the Associate Professional in Talent Development credential from the Association for Talent Development.


Xavery Hopkins

Xavery Hopkins, Program Manager

Xavery Hopkins is the Program Manager of Operations and Faculty Events for the Center for Teaching Excellence.  She is responsible for providing advanced direction and planning of programs and services for the CTE.  Xavery has over 15-years of experience leading and facilitating special projects.  She coordinates the work of CTE staff to implement programs and services for University faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants.  Xavery is responsible for all matters related to day-to-day management, workflow, processes and business operations of CTE.  She is also responsible for identifying and initiating partnerships with other units, and with individuals to support faculty development, providing leadership and support for initiatives that promote faculty collaborations, drives strategic initiatives and manages special programs for the CTE.  

Xavery earned a Master's degree of Public Health from the University of South Carolina and an MBA from Winthrop University, and is a graduate of the Kenan-Flagler Business School of UNC Chapel Hill's Executive Management Program.

Michelle Hardee

Michelle Hardee, Program Manager

Michelle Hardee is the Program Manager for all graduate student Teaching Assistant training at the University. Michelle is responsible for developing the CTE’s graduate TA/IA training seminars, developing and teaching the GRAD 701 Teaching Assistant Development course required of all new TA/IAs, and helping students progress through the Preparing Future Faculty Program. She regularly coordinates with the Graduate School and other university academic partners on graduate student professional development workshops and events. Michelle received her B.S. in Zoology at Texas A&M in 1995, an M.S. in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Laboratory, and her Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. Additionally, Michelle teaches the Honors section of the Marine Science Program’s Oceans and Society course every semester.

Helena Johnson

Helena Johnson, Web and Multimedia Developer

Helena is responsible for developing, editing, and delivering information about the Center's programs and services through Internet-based communications, multimedia and print. With degrees in Media Arts and Computer Programming, Helena began her career in corporate communications. Prior to joining CTE she worked for creative and production companies as producer and writer. 

Kim Elia

Kim Elia, Administrative Coordinator  

Kim Elia is the Administrative Coordinator for the Center for Teaching Excellence. She serves as the human resources liaison, budget coordinator, and the hiring manager. Her position additionally coordinates the CTE’s general administrative activities, manages data collection, maintains databases regarding CTE events and activities, and assists in the preparation of reports and other informational documents. Kim is the senior staff member at the CTE, having started at USC in 1994 in the Office of Distance Education and Instructional Support before joining the CTE in 2007.

Laurie Sambenedetto

Laurie Sambenedetto, Program Assistant

Laurie Sambenedetto is the Program Assistant for the Center for Teaching Excellence. She serves as the first point of contact for CTE clients and provides office and logistical support for CTE staff and events. Laurie manages the CTE front desk, fields phone calls and inquiries and assists senior CTE staff with basic clerical and administrative tasks including purchasing and procurement paperwork. She also handles registration, technology, catering arrangements and assists with maintaining the CTE space. Laurie joined the CTE in the summer of 2017.


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