Pioneering Teacher-Scholars Named 2013 U.S. Professors of the Year

November 14, 2013

Two physicists who are transforming the way science is taught, a math teacher who helps students overcome their fear of the subject, and a French professor who uses technology innovatively in language instruction are the national winners of the 2013 U.S. Professors of the Year awards.

Sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the awards recognize professors for their influence on teaching and commitment to undergraduate students. In addition to the four national winners, there are 36 state Professors of the Year award winners.

National and state winners of the 2013 U.S. Professors of the Year awards will be honored Nov. 14 at a luncheon and awards ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The national winners will speak at the event, after being introduced by former students.

The four national winners are:

Ann Williams, Outstanding Baccalaureate Universities Professor of the Year: Williams is professor of French at Metropolitan State University of Denver in Colorado. She is a leading scholar in the field of French cultural studies and an innovator in the development of foreign language pedagogy. Judges praised her innovative use of technology in the classroom—such as using Google Earth to teach students cross-cultural competencies that are important to language acquisition.

Robert Chaney, Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year: Chaney is professor of mathematics at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. He is a visionary instructor who has long incorporated hands-on learning activities in his classes to teach students the practical application of mathematics, such as programming a robot to complete simple tasks. Judges were impressed by his impact on his students and fellow instructors, exciting them about the subject matter through his unique teaching methods.

Steven Pollock, Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year: Pollock is professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a key leader of education reform nationally. He has helped revamp the physics curriculum at his own institution through a program that encourages more student group learning, and helped produce research that has influenced instruction at other institutions. Judges recognized his national reputation as an educator of excellence whose work is transforming physics education.

Gintaras Duda, Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year: Duda is associate professor of physics at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He is an expert in research-based approaches to teaching physics. Some of his courses contain no traditional lecture component and rely on problem-based course construction, helping students develop the ability to transfer their learning in the classroom to the research setting. Judges praised his tireless work alongside students, often co-authoring articles with undergraduates and having them present at national conferences.

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, praised this year’s award winners for their “exciting, dynamic and inspiring” approach to teaching. Lippincott noted that these professors also have an “infectious passion for their disciplines and profound dedication to their students” that make them exceptional faculty.

“The professors we honor today are making transformative and lasting contributions in their areas of study and in the lives of their students,” Lippincott said. “They are bringing excitement to their teaching and translating that excitement into effective pedagogical techniques that go far beyond traditional classroom lectures.”

Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, said today’s winners “have been guides in the encounter of new experiences and extended opportunities, providing occasions for their students to demonstrate individual leadership and to exercise personal responsibility.”

“They have embraced technologies in ways that significantly augment the educational experience,” Bryk said. “They have worked to ensure that their students begin to incorporate new ways of thinking, developing the habits of mind that they will need in their future work. And they endeavor to help students engage a shared responsibility to contribute to a better world.”

This year’s U.S. Professors of the Year award winners were selected from a pool of more than 350 nominees. Judges selected the 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 students.

Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, sponsors an evening congressional reception for the winners at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

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, the National Council of University Research Administrators and the Professional Organization Development (POD) Network in Higher Education.

About Carnegie

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to developing networks of ideas, individuals, and institutions to advance teaching and learning. We join together scholars, practitioners, and designers in new ways to solve problems of educational practice. Toward this end, we work to integrate the discipline of improvement science into education with the goal of building the field’s capacity to improve.

About CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.

CASE was founded in 1974 and maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with offices in London (CASE Europe, 1994), Singapore (CASE Asia-Pacific, 2007) and Mexico City (CASE América Latina, 2011).

Today, CASE’s membership includes more than 3,600 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in 82 countries around the globe. This makes CASE one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational associations in terms of institutional membership. CASE serves nearly 74,000 advancement professionals on the staffs of its member institutions and has more than 17,000 professional members on its roster.

To fulfill their missions and to meet both individual and societal needs, colleges, universities and independent schools rely on—and therefore must foster—the good will, active involvement, informed advocacy and enduring support of alumni, donors, prospective students, parents, government officials, community leaders, corporate executives, foundation officers and other external constituencies.

CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with all of these constituencies by providing relevant research, supporting growth in the profession and fostering support of education. CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern while promoting the importance of education worldwide.