Perspectives Online

Lytle endowment created to support state’s science teachers and CALS undergrads

Dr. Charles Lytle basks in the good wishes of colleagues who praised his impact on science education in North Carolina.
Photo by Becky Kirkland

An assembly of well-wishers, including colleagues, friends and family members gathered in September at the JC Raulston Arboretum, N.C. State University, to honor Dr. Charles Lytle, professor of zoology and coordinator of biology outreach, on his retirement from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The reception was also the occasion for the establishment by Lytle and his wife of the Charles and Brenda Evans Lytle Biological Sciences Endowment.

The Lytles created the endowment in the College’s N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc. to provide professional development awards and financial support for science teachers in the state’s elementary, middle and high schools, as well as to fund scholarships to undergraduates in the College’s biological sciences curricula.

Dr. George Barthalmus, director of N.C. State University undergraduate research, hosted the event.

“We’re here to celebrate Charlie’s long and productive career here at N.C. State,” said Barthalmus of Lytle, who, in the late ’60s at Penn State University, advised then graduate student Barthalmus on special research and high-enrollment teaching projects.

Lytle developed the CALS biological sciences program and laid the foundation for its biology outreach programs, Barthalmus said. “Charlie created a team of teachers and a curriculum for majors and non-majors. And he was doing biology outreach before the biology outreach program was created. His impacts on North Carolina education have been enormous, as he has offered training to science teachers from across the state, as well as to those from across the nation and from other countries.”

Said Barthalmus, “Trying to estimate the impact Charlie has had on science education is hard to do. He is the state leader in providing professional development opportunities for science teachers.”

An Indiana native, Lytle earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology from Wabash College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University. He was on faculty at Tulane University and at Penn State and then joined N.C. State’s faculty in 1969. He has taught more than 20,000 students, most at N.C. State. Lytle was among the early leaders in making computers and peripherals an integral part of biology laboratory instruction. In 1977, he began to offer outreach support for pre-college teachers in collaboration with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the N.C. Department of Mathematics and Science Education.

Brenda Evans Lytle is director of the North Carolina Infrastructure for Science Education in the NCSU biology outreach program. She holds a 1968 bachelor’s degree from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and a 1990 master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. She taught students in grades one through nine for 20 years. During this time she served as president of the South Carolina Science Teachers Association and as district director of the National Science Teachers Association. In 1990 she became science consultant for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, where she served for 14 years before joining her husband in NCSU’s biology outreach program.

— Terri Leith

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