October 8, 2019
On Tuesday, a group of ASNAU students, local media, Homecoming committee members and faculty gathered in anticipation outside a conference room in the Science and Health Services building on Northern Arizona University’s campus, waiting for the cue to enter.
A silent hand gesture, similar to something you’d see in a police invasion, gave the leaders of the pack the go ahead.
The door burst open, interrupting the faculty meeting, and the parade of people filed into the room where wide-eyed Brandon Cruickshank was handed a large bouquet of blue and gold balloons as he was metaphorically crowned this year’s Homecoming dedicatee. The crowd went wild.
“I’m about to cry. I don’t know what to say,” he said as he was handed a button with his face on it. “My face is on a button!”
Every year since 1939, the student body chooses an NAU faculty or staff member to be honored during Homecoming. He or she must have been with the university for at least 10 years and demonstrated exceptional service to the university and its students.
This year, the honor went to Cruickshank.
Cruickshank is in his 25th year at NAU. He has served in both academic and administrative leadership roles since joining the faculty in 1995. Among his many contributions to the College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences, he is chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. For his outstanding accomplishments in teaching, he served two terms as a President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow (2008, 2015) and has been the recipient of numerous awards including the NAU Teacher-Scholar Award, two Golden Axe Influential Faculty Awards and multiple NAU Louie Awards. For innovations in teaching and learning, he has received three NAU e-Learning Awards and two NAU President’s Innovation Awards.
In addition to his outstanding teaching contributions, Cruickshank has actively participated in scholarly efforts to improve science teaching and learning. Most recently, he received funding from the National Science Foundation as a co-investigator on a grant to improve undergraduate STEM education. He also has received funding from the National Institutes of Health for minority student development programs at NAU and to develop a Bridges to Baccalaureate program with Diné College. He has played an active role in supporting supplemental instruction and peer teaching support programs at NAU for large-enrollment classes, and he has served as the first-year learning initiative coordinator for general chemistry since its inception. He is recognized nationally for writing multiple editions of the solutions manual and instructor’s manual to accompany Raymond Chang’s “General Chemistry” published by McGraw Hill.
In their letter nominating Cruickshank for homecoming dedicatee, the students highlighted his enthusiasm for teaching, his great sense of humor (expressed in part through his love of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip) and his ingenuity in the classroom. His recent innovations have included chemistry animations, problem-solving tutorials using a tablet PC and adaptive learning homework systems—to name a few.
Outside of work, Cruickshank loves to read, play tennis, ride his bicycle and hike the Grand Canyon with friends and family. He also volunteers for the City of Flagstaff to help promote safe roads for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
“Brandon personifies NAU’s commitment to student-centered learning and is a true ambassador of the Lumberjack Spirit,” said Marin Robinson, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
Cruickshank recalls two of his colleagues, John Wettaw and Wayne Hildebrandt, being named Homecoming dedicatees in years past.
“I never thought that would be me someday,” he said. “I am so honored.”
For more information about the various Homecoming activities, including a dinner honoring Cruickshank on Oct. 23, visit the Homecoming website.
Carly Banks | NAU Communications
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