NAU announces new initiatives for honoring outstanding faculty

Building on its historical and philosophical commitment to teaching, Northern Arizona University has two new ways for recognizing and honoring its most outstanding faculty.

The university has created a President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award and a Northern Arizona University Teaching Academy to highlight and learn from its great teachers.

Both initiatives recognize selected faculty whose excellence and innovative teaching measurably affects students.

Announced by NAU President John Haeger and Provost Liz Grobsmith this week, the President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award targets teaching scholars who make a significant impact on undergraduate learning at NAU and who have a sustained record of teaching excellence marked by vision, design, analysis and critical reflection.

President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award recipients will be appointed for three years (and may reapply). For each of the three years they are teaching fellows, they will receive a $5,000 salary stipend and a $5,000 professional development fund. In addition, they will be able to develop and teach a “dream course” once during their three years.

“With this level of recognition, we are prepared to honor the top echelon of faculty whose commitment to and success in teaching innovation and excellence place them in a unique and very distinctive category of faculty who are held in the highest regard,” Haeger said.

Effective fall 2008, the President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellows also will become members of the Teaching Academy’s Leadership Council. The academy is being created to broadly recognize, support and reward effective teaching.

These two major recognition programs will raise the profile of faculty expertise while also creating new collaborations and contributions to teaching and learning through the academy.

“Braiding the brilliance of these teachers into the fabric of our institution will elevate the way we can learn from each other’s work,” said Linda Shadiow, director of the Faculty Development Program and professor in education.

Besides membership by the President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellows, the academy will include recipients of each year’s college-level teaching awards, beginning with those selected this spring. Academy members will serve for three years and will receive annual professional development funding. A small number of additional faculty members will be chosen each year from a campuswide call for nominees for three-year Teaching Academy memberships.

Members of the Teaching Academy will convene once a semester to identify a major initiative, co-sponsor an annual teaching retreat and will be leaders for NAU’s work on its strategic goal of being a learning-centered university, explained Susanna Maxwell, vice provost for academic personnel.

“NAU students, faculty and staff will all benefit from the new associations these initiatives will create,” Grobsmith said. “The academy is an important structural addition to the university that will celebrate excellent teaching in an ongoing forum which recycles this leadership back into campuswide work.”

Information is on the provost’s web site.