U.S. PROFESSORS OF THE YEAR PROGRAM
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Council for Advancement and Support of Education
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Tel: 202-328-5900; Fax: 202-387-4973
CASE, Carnegie Name 2009 U.S. Professors of the Year
Winners Saluted for Extraordinary Performance in Undergraduate Education
Washington, D.C.—Four college and university educators who actively engage
their undergraduate students in hands-on research and extensive team work
are the national winners of the 2009 U.S. Professors of the Year Awards.
Administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and
sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the
awards recognize professors for their influence on teaching and their
commitment to undergraduate students. In addition to the four national
winners, state-level Professors of the Year are being recognized in 36
states, the District of Columbia and Guam.
The national and state winners of the 2009 U.S. Professors of the Year
award will be honored today at a luncheon and awards ceremony at the
Willard InterContinental Washington in Washington, D.C. National winners
will offer remarks after they are introduced by current or former students.
The four national winners are:
Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year:
Richard L. Miller, professor of psychology, at the University of Nebraska
at Kearney. Miller helps undergraduate students critically examine and
contribute to the knowledge base in psychology. For all of his classes, he
designs optional lab experiences in which small groups define and
investigate a real question that could – and often does – lead to a new
discovery. Students plan and conduct all aspects of their studies, from
obtaining the participants to coding and analyzing the data and structuring
their papers. Many have presented and published their research results.
Miller’s leadership in teaching and research helped strengthen the
commitment to teaching throughout the psychology department, which received
the University of Nebraska system-wide teaching excellence award.
Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year: Rob Thomas,
professor of geology, at The University of Montana Western in Dillon, Mont.
Thomas’s passion is teaching geology to students in the field so they can
directly experience how the Earth works. With his help, the University of
Montana Western became the first public university in the country to
transition from regular semester courses to block scheduling. In
“Experience One,” his geology students take a single course for 18
instructional days, working outdoors on real-world projects. For example,
undergraduate students in his environmental field studies class conducted
an analysis of stream restoration on the upper Big Hole River and drafted a
150-page assessment report—in 18 days. The project was a collaborative
effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local ranchers to help
preserve an endangered fish species.
Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year: Tracey McKenzie,
professor of sociology, at Collin College in Frisco, Texas. McKenzie
creates a collaborative learning environment in which students are both
teachers and learners. Much of her teaching is through “learning
communities,” which are interdisciplinary, team-taught courses designed
around a theme. She engages students in these communities in original
research and encourages them to present their work to a wider audience.
McKenzie’s leadership contributed to the program receiving national
recognition and interest from colleges in other states. McKenzie also
empowers students to take on larger roles on and beyond campus through the
Student Leadership Academy, one of only a few community college student
leadership academies in the nation.
Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year: Brian
P. Coppola, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, at the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor. Coppola encourages undergraduates to explore the
teaching and learning of chemistry—from writing the text of the course and
constructing the lab syllabus to participating in peer instruction and
teaching groups. He engages students on a broader level through “structured
study groups,” supplemental instruction sessions in which undergraduates
develop original research proposals based on contemporary chemical
literature. Coppola bases the questions for the final exam on the
student-generated work. This concept of using teaching groups for complex
teaching is finding broad appeal among many educational institutions. As
co-director of the IDEA Institute, Coppola is also implementing the concept
at the K-12 level and is collaborating on similar projects with
The U.S. Professors of the Year program, created in 1981, is the only
national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in
undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
John Lippincott, president of CASE, said the 2009 national and state
winners represent the best in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
“These professors have a passion for teaching that sparks a passion for
learning in their students,” Lippincott said. “As great teachers, they
combine a profound knowledge of their disciplines with creative teaching
methods to engage students within and outside of the classroom. We
celebrate their achievements and contributions to teaching and student
Anthony Bryk, president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching, said that the four winners have shaped both the lives of their
students and the well-being of their communities.
“These dedicated teachers are not only leading their students to develop a
deep understanding of their respective fields—geology, sociology,
psychology and chemistry,—but they are also mirroring examples of
scholarship, citizenship and community involvement that ultimately will
lead to contributions toward a better society and indeed a better world.”
This year’s U.S. Professors of the Year award winners were selected from a
pool of more than 300 nominees. Judges select national and state winners
based on four criteria: impact on and involvement with undergraduate
students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to
undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and
support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
TIAA-CREF, a financial services and retirement investment organization, is
the principal sponsor of the awards ceremony. Phi Beta Kappa, an academic
honorary, sponsors an evening Congressional reception for the winners at
the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Other sponsors of the awards program are the American Association of
Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Community Colleges, the
American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American
Association of University Professors, the Association of Community College
Trustees, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Council
of Independent Colleges and the National Council of University Research
About Carnegie: Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by
an Act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
is an independent policy and research center with a primary mission "to do
and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the
profession of the teacher." The improvement of teaching and learning is
central to all of the work of the foundation.
About CASE: The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is one of
the largest international associations of education institutions, serving
more than 3,400 universities, colleges, schools and related organizations
in 63 countries. CASE is the leading resource for professional development,
information and standards in the fields of education fundraising,
communications, marketing and alumni relations.
About TIAA-CREF: TIAA-CREF is a national financial services organization
and the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research,
medical and cultural fields.