If you had told Associate Professor Maria Buszek, PhD, during her early days as an undergraduate student that she’d one day find herself at the front of a classroom, she wouldn’t have believed it. Years later, that’s exactly where CU Denver’s most recent appointee to the President’s Teaching Scholars Program ended up.
“When I started my PhD program, I took a role as a teacher’s assistant to the late Marilyn Stokstad, distinguished professor emerita of art history at the University of Kansas,” said Buszek, who teaches art history in the College of Arts & Media (CAM). “The stars aligned and before long I realized I’d fallen in love with teaching and with being in the classroom.”
The President’s Teaching Scholars Program is the highest CU system-wide recognition for scholars who are also exceptional teachers and strives to raise awareness of and elevate the value of teaching as an essential purpose of higher education. Scholars are chosen from the four CU campuses not only for their skills in the classroom but also for their capacity to push the university’s educational mission to new heights.
Buszek was drawn to CU Denver in part due to its legacy of embracing non-traditional students. This aligns not only with her own personal ethos but with the university’s 2030 Strategic Plan, which aims to increase access to education for all, from first-generation and transfer students to mature and community learners.
“During my first week at the university, I remember hearing at least nine different languages being spoken on campus,” said Buszek. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is exactly where I’m meant to be.’”
A scholar, author, critic, and curator, Buszek’s body of work is nothing if not diverse. She is especially interested in the intersection of art and contemporary culture, and her community-driven background informs both her research approach and teaching style. She is currently working on a book project focused on feminist art and popular music, which led her to facilitate an exhibit that her students curated at the Emmanuel Art Gallery.
“The Visual Arts Department is thrilled about Dr. Buszek’s appointment to the program,” said Michelle Carpenter, chair and professor of visual arts in CAM. “She is an extraordinary mentor, and has guided numerous students to publish and present in scholarly events.”
Like all members of the President’s Teaching Scholars Program, Buszek has a distinguished record of educational excellence and was honored with the CAM Teaching Award in 2019. She has facilitated and mentored students in multiple national and international internship opportunities, including curatorial internships at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Denver Art Museum, the EURēCA! Fellowships, Diverse Pathways Internship, Curatorial Internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum Venice, and Curatorial Internship for Biennial of the Americas.
“Dr. Buszek is an esteemed colleague, an active member of the CU Denver community, and she is very deserving of this prestigious appointment,” Carpenter said.