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Chico State

Removing Barriers and Increasing Resources

Beth Shook smiles for a portrait in front of a chalkboard.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

This story is one in a series spotlighting eight exceptional faculty members who were recognized with 2023–24 Outstanding Faculty Awards, selected by the University’s Faculty Recognition and Support Committee.

These awards—among the highest honors at Chico State—celebrate faculty excellence in the categories of Outstanding Professor, Teacher, Academic Advisor, Research Mentor, Faculty Service, Lecturer, Lecturer in Bringing the Profession to the Classroom, and Early Career Faculty. 

Outstanding Lecturer Award: Beth Shook

Professor Beth Shook is committed to ensuring her students have what they need to succeed. Spend time in one of her classes and you will see it. The focus is hardly on her at all, but instead, on removing any barriers students face and providing whatever tools they need. These range from free textbooks to an ever-expanding learning library. Shook’s colleagues in the Department of Anthropology say that empathy is one of her greatest strengths.

Her students appreciate the efforts she makes to help them learn key concepts through a growing collection of activities and games, paid for in part with the Student Learning Fee grant she wrote to make learning more accessible to all her students.

Shook’s commitment to equity also shows up in her work with a group of authors and editors who selflessly published an Open Educational Resources (OER) textbook, which is free to biological anthropology students. Published by the esteemed American Anthropological Association, the second edition features Dr. Shook as the first author.

“I love getting to know students as individuals, helping them learn, and celebrating their successes,” Shook said. “Students face a diverse range of challenges on their college path, and it is an honor to provide or refer students to resources that make these hurdles manageable. When I read that 50% of Chico State students reported not purchasing a textbook due to financial hardships, I was motivated get involved with the OER movement and create a free textbook so that more students can acquire the course materials they need to succeed.”

One of Shook’s strengths is teaching others to be teachers. She has overseen the training of the department’s graduate student teaching assistants for two decades and recently redesigned the supervised college teaching course to provide training in professionalism and teaching, setting them up to thrive in their graduate and professional careers.

Shook earned bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and cultural anthropology from Cornell College in 1998 and an M.A. and PhD in anthropology from UC Davis in 1999 and 2005, respectively.