UNK- A University of Nebraska at Kearney psychology professor is the first Nebraska educator to be named a U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in the nearly 30 years of this prestigious national teaching award.
Dr. Rick Miller, UNK professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, will receive the award at a luncheon and awards ceremony today (Thursday, Nov. 19) at the Willard InterContinental Washington in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Miller earned the award in the Outstanding Master's Universities and Colleges category. The U.S. Professor of the Year award is recognized as one of the most prestigious national awards honoring undergraduate teaching. The national award is also presented to educators in the categories of Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities, Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges and Outstanding Community Colleges. The four national winners each receive a $5,000 cash award from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
This year, the 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. The U.S. Professors of the Year awards 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. 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. In 1990, Dr. Paul Welter, UNK professor of counseling and school psychology, received the award on the state level.
"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 learning."
Anthony Bryk, president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, said that the four national 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," he said.
Dr. Miller has been described as: "...an engaging teacher who challenges his students to think critically about the material they encounter."
Earlier this year, "...in recognition of his exceptional work as a scholar-teacher of psychology," he received the Robert S. Daniel Award for outstanding teaching in a four-year college or university. The award was from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association.
He has also received the top UNK teaching and mentoring awards--the Pratt-Heins Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Professor Award. He has also received the University of Nebraska-wide Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA). Further, under his leadership, the UNK Department of Psychology has received the University of Nebraska-wide Outstanding Teaching Department Award, once, and the UNK Departmental Teaching Award, four times.
In addition, Dr. Miller has received several research awards, including the UNK Pratt-Heins Foundation Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Research. He has authored, or co-authored, more than 70 book chapters and journal articles, and he has co-edited two books. Since 1990, Dr. Miller has directed nearly 200 undergraduate research projects; in addition, nearly 30 of his students have had their work published in professional psychology journals.
Members of the UNK Department of Psychology recently summed up Dr. Miller's influence: "Richard Miller is both an exemplary academic citizen and an outstanding scholar-teacher. He is the kind of person who makes a difference. He certainly has made a difference for us."