Terry L. Hufford

Terry L. Hufford

Faculty: Emeriti

Professor Emeritus of Botany and Distinguished Teaching Professor

Professor Terry Hufford’s connection to agriculture and the environment began at an early age. Raised on a small farm outside of Toledo, Ohio, he initially took “no science at all, not even biology” in high school.  It was only after the particular encouragement of a first year English teacher that Hufford began to seriously consider higher education instead of a life of farming.

However, a college education was initially out of reach. After a brief stint at The Ohio State University and later a complicated balancing act of community college and long shifts at a factory near Toledo, Hufford decided, “I’ve either got to forget about college and just work, or I’ve got to quit working full time and go to college.” Hufford’s wife of now 58 years told him without hesitation: go to college.

And so Hufford began his studies in biology at Bowling Green State University. “Biology just seemed a very logical thing then, growing up in a farm in the country, spending most of my time when I wasn’t working just tramping through the woods and down near the creek and looking for whatever I could find.” Hufford initially worked on a research project on Lake Erie, combining for the first time research and teaching. This led Hufford to continue his studies at the master’s level and cemented a lifelong interest in both the research-oriented and pedagogical aspects of higher education, teaching along the way at Indiana Central College, Central Methodist College, Michigan State University, and Grove City College. Nearly a decade later, Hufford landed back at Ohio State to complete his doctoral degree in phycology, aquatic botany, and environmental studies.

Hufford arrived at The George Washington University in 1972. “I had determined very quickly, even though I had published three or four papers, that I wasn’t going to win a Nobel Prize in science for the field that I was in. And I did very much enjoy working with students. So I figured very early on that my concentration was going to be more on teaching than it was on research. And you can see that on my resume. And that’s the one thing I miss being retired; I miss the students.”

Indeed, Hufford’s talent for teaching has been well recognized, receiving the National Association of Biological Teachers Four-Year/University Outstanding Biology Teacher Award (1998), Bender Teaching Award (1999), and Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching (2000). Even upon his retirement, Hufford was asked to return as a “Distinguished Teaching Professor,” teaching both an honors biology course as well as “Biology in the City,” a popular course for non-majors.

Reflecting on his plethora of courses and new approaches to teaching, Hufford emphasizes the importance of “drawing students in,” perhaps not only to pursue careers as scientists but rather to “get them involved” with the underlying structures and bases of scientific research. “The critical thing for education is how we get students to quit memorizing, quit worrying. If you don’t know how to use that knowledge, it’s worthless. It’s what I would call ‘empty knowledge.’ And that I think, in teaching, is what we need to try to do. We need to try to get students, not only to learn and simply gain knowledge that is critical to understanding, but to develop that understanding.”

Even in his retirement, Hufford remains committed to developing new methods of teaching and engaging with students in a variety of classrooms. He continues to develop curricula for biology courses as well as approaches for teachers of biology. Hufford also plans to continue his involvement with George Washington University, both through the Society of the Emeriti and as teaching mentor.

Education

B.S., Bowling Green State University, 1961
M.A., Bowling Green State University, 1962
Post-M.A., Michigan State University, 1966
Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1972