Texas Tech University

Thank you, Beth Scheckel

April 22, 2021

Beth Scheckel

Anyone who has been around Texas Tech's School of Theatre & Dance in the past 16 years has heard this instruction: “Ask Beth.”  

It's doubtful that anyone knows the inner workings of the academic programs in Theatre & Dance better than Senior Academic Advisor Beth Scheckel.

And no one knows the Theatre & Dance students better.  She is the first person they meet at Red Raider Orientation, the 2-day onboarding event for new students, and the last person they see at the post-graduation reception to pick up their diplomas.  In the four years between (okay, for some it's a bit longer), students meet with her countless times finagling class schedules, building degree plans, finding campus resources—you know, fielding all those “quick questions” that rarely have quick answers. 

Need to declare a minor? Want a teaching certificate? Want to graduate on time?  

Ask Beth.

Scholarship applications? Building tours? Course rotations?

Ask Beth.

“Who do I…?”
“How do I…?”
“Where do I…?”
“Can I…?”
“Should I…?”   

Beth knows, but ask her soon.

graduationAfter 23 years as a student and staff member, one of the most beloved people in the School of Theatre & Dance will be heading across campus to join the Honors College advising team in a newly created position.

But Beth wasn't looking for another job.

“The position with the Honor's College came out of nowhere,” she says.  “A colleague across campus recommended that I look into it; but no, I love my job, I'm very good at my job, I know it so well, so starting something new and unknown was the farthest thing from my mind.”

A different colleague mentioned the position again a few weeks later, then Beth spoke with one of the current Honor's College advisors who took time to share more about their program and what they do.

“I began to realize this opportunity might be a return to what originally drew me to advising in Theatre & Dance. I'm still in shock. The real difficulty of this whole thing is leaving—Theatre & Dance is so much of who I am.”

She's right. Beth Scheckel is Theatre & Dance.

As a student, she has been there and done it.  Twice. A Texas Tech alum with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and English and a Master of Arts in Theatre, she is more than familiar with the ins and outs of student-life on this campus, in this college, and in this school.

As a staff member, she began in 2002 as an administrative assistant in the newly formed College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). In 2005, as she was working towards her master's degree, she left CVPA to become the first full-time staff academic advisor in Theatre & Dance. She's a four-time recipient of the President's Excellence in Advising Award—she received the Team award in 2007, 2012, and 2019, and the Individual award in 2015. For 3 years she served as a coordinator for graduate admissions in theatre, in addition to advising undergraduate students, until the School split off those duties into another full-time position in 2014.

Over time, Beth's longevity and knowledge base led to additional responsibilities including course scheduling, recruiting, and enrollment management.  Recently, she assisted faculty with launching two new undergraduate degree programs, the BFA in dance and the BFA in musical theatre.

graduation hugsBut Beth's favorite part has always been working with students.

In the last 16 years, Beth has helped approximately 500 undergraduate students dot every “i” and cross every “t” to successfully finish their degree in Theatre & Dance.  There are more than 150 students in the program today who started with Beth and will, one day, walk across that stage.

“I love working with the current students but getting to see and interact with them as alums, that is what makes my heart full—knowing I had some small part in who they are and what they are doing professionally.”

At graduation receptions, Beth meets students one last time, with a cookie and a hug, to hand them their diploma. 

“That's the best part of my job,” she says. “I see them from their Red Raider Orientation session, walking them through class registration for the very first time, all the way to graduation.”

The last in-person graduation reception was December 2019 because the May 2020 reception was cancelled due to Covid-19.  For the first time since 2005, Beth wasn't able to hug her graduates and hand them their diplomas. However, she was determined to give them their cookies.

“I gathered the addresses of all our graduates, and to those students who lived out of town, I sent them cookies.  For students living in Lubbock, I delivered them to their doorsteps.”

Those students in Lubbock also received their graduation hug. It was socially distanced, of course, with the help of rubber gloves tied to the end of pool noodles.

pool noodles

And what about the upcoming graduation? Will Beth be there to hand out cookies, hugs, and diplomas this spring?

“That is 110% still the plan.  If there is an in-person graduation reception, I am going to be there.”

And if there is not an in-person reception, she will grab more cookies and invite the graduating seniors to meet her after commencement. She's not ready to let go of the “best part of the job” just yet.

“I hope the next advisor realizes that I will crash the graduation reception for the next 3 years,” she says with a laugh.

Beth may be moving across campus, but she is a lifelong member of this community and promises not to be a stranger in the Maedgen Theatre building.  She plans to be an active audience member and looks forward to gathering for school social events. And she might even be willing to answer a “quick question” every now and again. Although she is starting a new adventure in another program, she will be there “always and forever” to support Theatre & Dance. 

Just ask Beth.