By Jennifer Krisch
teach \teech\ verb:
- to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in;
- to guide the studies of;
- to instruct by precept, example or experience
intransitive verb: act as a teacher
ex•cel•lence \ek-suh-luh ns\ noun:
- the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence
- an excellent quality or feature;
teaching excellence: University Professors
Each year, the student body rewards four to five university faculty for their teaching excellence and overall contributions to higher education with the title of University Professor.
The 2008-09 honorees are Associate Professor of English Josephine Bloomfield, Associate Professor of Human and Consumer Sciences Jennifer Chabot, Assistant Professor of Political Science Barry Tadlock, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Nancy Tatarek and Associate Professor of Communication Studies Scott Titsworth.
"University Professors are the embodiment of the 'courage to teach,'" said Tim Vickers, associate director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. "It is a recognition of their incredible dedication and passion for engaging teaching and authentic learning and represents a much richer portrait of the professor as a teacher, scholar, researcher and artist."
Now in its 38th year, the University Professor program has honored more than 150 faculty members for teaching excellence. Along with the distinctive title and $2,000, the professors get the opportunity to enrich the academic curriculum by creating up to two courses of their choosing for the following year. On many occasions, University Professor courses have become permanent offerings.
Vickers, whose office coordinates the process each year, said the course development aspect of the award also provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates to directly influence the university curriculum.
As the current -- and many past winners -- have noted, the award is all the more meaningful because it comes from students. Nominations are made by the student body during fall quarter. A selection committee, comprised entirely of undergraduates, interview finalists and observe classes through winter quarter, determining recipients by March 15.
"I have had the privilege and pleasure of sitting in on 10 years of interviews," Vickers said. "What an inspiration to witness these conversations about what constitutes great teaching and real, meaningful learning today. I cannot begin to say how much I have learned from hearing these interviews and how I have been touched by the nominees and by the members of the selection committees."
The university provost announces the recipients each spring, and the winners' names are permanently inscribed on a bronze plaque displayed outside the University College office in Chubb Hall, an area informally referred to as the "Teaching Hall of Fame."
For a closer look at each of this year's recipients, in their own words:
View a complete list of University Professor Award winners from 1970 to the present.