Dr. Alicen Teitgen wants her students like Emma Edwards ’25 to succeed outside of the classroom just as much as she wants to see them excel inside the classroom. That’s why you’ll see her cheering on students on the field just as often as you’ll find her gathered with students around a white board in Levinson Family Hall, reviewing a particularly difficult Organic Chemistry concept. 

“I love the challenge of teaching Organic Chemistry, but I also love being able to mentor students for life beyond Butler. With a smaller classroom, you get to know your students and really understand who they are,” says Teitgen, a lecturer in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Teitgen and Edwards are extremely grateful for the opportunities Butler has provided for students, faculty, and staff. Their relationship has grown beyond the classroom and Edwards says that Teitgen has made a positive impact on her life, in and out of the classroom.

In celebration of GivingTuesday, we sat down with Teitgen and Edwards, a second-year Health Sciences major, to talk about the Butler experience and how philanthropy makes it all possible.  

Why did you choose to work at Butler University?

Teitgen: I attended St. Mary’s, a small women’s liberal arts college, where I was really able to get to know my professors. I really connected with my professors there and they were very influential in my experience as an undergraduate. I never wanted to be at a big university because it was so important for me to get to know my students. I really wanted to know my students and I found that opportunity at Butler.

Why do you love Butler’s small student-to-faculty ratio of 11 to 1?

Teitgen: Having a smaller classroom makes it easier to teach the material for a very challenging course. I am able to build relationships with my students so they feel comfortable asking questions. That allows me to re-address something, which is something I do not think you can get in a bigger classroom.

In terms of working with my colleagues, we communicate better within this smaller atmosphere. From an advisory or academic perspective, we have great communication among the departments and can reach out to our students who may need our help.

Edwards: At Butler, my professors have always known my name, what I want to do in my future, and what I stand for. I know my professors want me to succeed in the classroom, but they also understand that success is not limited to the classroom. They want me to succeed as a whole person. They want me to be well-rounded and do well mentally, emotionally, and academically through the whole process. That is something very unique to Butler.

Describe your relationship with each other as a student and professor.

Teitgen: I love attending any event that I can to appreciate and build a relationship with my students. Supporting my students at a Butler Women’s Soccer game is just as important as holding office hours. I support Emma like I do all my students, caring for the whole person, despite what their performance is within my classroom.

Edwards: It is so special to have a strong female instructor in the sciences like Dr. Teitgen. I constantly look up to her as a whole person and more than an Organic Chemistry instructor. Us students don’t tell you enough that having a strong role model like you is so special. She understands hard work is not necessarily limited to the classroom, but that our best is what we can give towards our work and that it is enough for her. I am not just an Organic Chemistry student to Dr. Teitgen, I am a whole person.

How has philanthropy made an impact on your life at Butler? 

Teitgen: I think the new spaces that we have in Levinson Family Hall are incredible. The amount of soft spaces for learning, such as the dry erase boards in the atrium, is astonishing. Not only are we able to interact with students more because they are studying here in this new building, but if there are five students in my office asking for help, we can just go out to the open space and interact together there. It is truly changing the way we teach and get to interact with our students.

Edwards: I’m in the Ruth Lilly Science Library every day from morning to night. I have my spot and always go there–it’s a running joke in my friend group. The science library is such a comfortable place to learn and I cannot imagine my college career without it. The lab spaces and lab equipment, and having a huge expanse of space and technology, are all amazing.

How do you think alumni can make a difference on GivingTuesday?

Teitgen: As alumni donors, you probably think back on your college experience at Butler quite fondly and as a positive time in your life. With your gifts, you are giving back and allowing other students to have experiences like you did. You are allowing those who may not have the opportunity or resources to have this phenomenal experience and receive an amazing education.

Edwards: Gifts from alumni allow people from different walks of life who might not have had access to Butler a chance to make it into the classroom. These gifts also enrich my education now. I think that is so important because your gifts give us all of these spaces to collaborate, learn, and grow alongside each other. Some students come from a high school where they have all this lab equipment but others aren’t so fortunate. Here, we get to attend labs that are capped at 15 to 20 people and lectures that are capped at 50 people, so the experience is more personal in these amazing, advanced spaces.

What do you see for the future of the Chemistry program at Butler?

Teitgen: I love where this program and the University are right now, but I know that is not realistic. The world is constantly changing and COVID has had an impact on us as professors and students. As the world continues to change and evolve, we should too at Butler. I think research is going to take off within the Chemistry department here and the new facilities will only help these opportunities grow. I hope that we always come back to the heart and purpose of creating a space where students feel comfortable, safe, challenged, and inspired to be their best selves.

Edwards: Looking at the first few years that I have spent at Butler, the most important part for me has been the relationships that I have built. After I leave Butler, I really want everyone who comes through to have the same opportunities and to build deep relationships. Having research within the Chemistry department will only allow closer relationships to form between students and faculty. I hope that we maintain the positive, warm feeling that we have on campus now and the small class and lab sizes, and keep professors involved in every part of a student’s experience. 

Support Butler students and faculty like Emma Edwards ’25 and Dr. Alicen Teitgen on GivingTuesday–every gift makes an impact.