The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) was established in 1998 on the recommendation of the Committee on Excellence in Teaching. Funding for the CTE comes from the endowment, provided by a donor’s generous.  Mel Bertolozzi, Professor of English, became the first Director of the CTE in December 1998. In its inaugural year, the Center received the Theodore Hesburgh Award for Faculty Development. In 2000 the CTE moved to its current location in University Hall and expanded its programs, services, and grants. Psychology Professor Patricia Walsh became Director of the CTE in 2001 and served until 2006. To honor her memory, grants in her name are awarded to faculty to promote excellence in teaching by supporting transformation of teaching methods that research shows improve student learning. In 2003, the CTE was part of a major Irvine Foundation grant supporting intercultural campus initiatives, faculty development, and course transformations to integrate diversity and inclusive teaching.

From 2006 to 2010, Jackie Dewar, Professor of Mathematics, served as Director of the CTE.  Professor Dewar strengthened and expanded CTE's work on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Community-Based Learning, and played a key role in developing new teaching-related guidelines and policies.  Professor Suzanne Larson of the Mathematics Dept. served as Interim Director of the CTE for one semester in 2011. From 2011 to 2017, Dorothea K. Herreiner, Associate Professor of Economics, served as Director. Dr. Herreiner initiated an orientation and faculty development program for part time faculty and also initiated an Open Classroom Week, in which faculty opened their classroom to other university faculty. From June, 2017 through May, 2018, Physics Professor Vincent Coletta served as Director. Dr. Coletta initiated the Faculty Learning Community program, expanded the Open Classroom program to a year round program, provided distinguished speakers, including Nobel laureate Carl Wieman and Matthew Peterson, founder of the MIND Research Institute, and led a university discussion on how teaching should be evaluated in light of recent research. Dr. Martina Ramirez, Biology Professor, became Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence in 2018. As an advocate of technology, Dr. Martinez provided the faculty with critical support in transitioning teaching and learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also partnered with the Office of Intercultural Affairs to facilitate DEI programming through the CTE. Her term ended in 2021. Dr. Karie Huchting, Professor of Education, joined the CTE's team in June 2021, and she presently serves as the Director of the CTE.