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School of Design + Construction Policies + Procedures

5.7 SDC Teaching Awards Process

The School of Design and Construction shall annually award a “teacher of the year” in each of the school’s disciplines.  There shall be only one winner per discipline.  This document sets a new process in the SDC that permits student input but also a faculty perspective that may provide additional insight into new courses, instructional innovations, teaching loads, cross-disciplinary contributions, class sizes, research contributions in conjunction with teaching, and other factors.

Awards will be announced in time for VCEA Convocation, which is typically held in April, although they may not be presented at that venue.  This process is independent of that for the Reid Miller Excellence in Teaching Award or any other teaching award in the colleges or the university.

Criteria

These awards are first and foremost intended to recognize, encourage, and reward the superior classroom teacher in each discipline during the year—those individuals whose command of their respective discipline, teaching methodologies, communication skills, pervasive caring, and/or commitment to the learning process exemplify the meaning of teacher in its highest sense.  These awards are designed to distinguish those teachers who create environments that stimulate significant student learning; elevate students to a new level of intellectual engagement; and foster students’ ability to express themselves effectively within the discipline.

Eligibility

Any faculty member who has taught or is teaching in the school during the academic year.

SDC Teaching Awards Committee

The director will annually appoint an SDC Teaching Awards Committee of three or more faculty in the school, and designate a committee chair to coordinate the awards process.  The committee shall include at least one student.  The faculty members and/or student on the committee need not represent all disciplines in the school; it is assumed that good teaching spans disciplines, and selected committee members should be known for the quality of their instruction, or, for those student(s) selected to be on the committee, the excellence of their record.

The director must appoint the awards committee carefully, ensuring that all members of the selection committee fully understand the significance of the awards and the necessity for maintaining their integrity.  Past winners of teaching awards in the school are encouraged to be a part of the committee.  The committee should keep the names of award nominees and recipients confidential until the announcements are made.

Process and Timeline

  • August: Director selects SDC Teaching Awards Committee and committee chair.
  • February: Committee meets to discuss timeline and the format for selecting votes or recommendations from students. It is recommended that the committee chair [or student committee member(s)] contact the club presidents for each of the four professional clubs in the SDC (AIAS, ACSM, ASID, and ASLA) and determine/discuss the manner in which they will solicit votes from students in their disciplines.  While this method may vary from year to year, it is recommended that the process and criteria for soliciting votes is the same across the board, per program, for that particular year.
  • Early March: Student club presidents solicit votes from students in their respective disciplines for “teacher of the year.”  Student clubs tally votes and provide the tallies to the committee chair in a timely and organized fashion.
  • Late March: Awards committee meets to examine tallies.  If student votes overwhelmingly favor one faculty member over all others in a single discipline, it is at the committee’s discretion to award that faculty member and forgo the solicitation of additional information.  Otherwise, committee chair now solicits short statements (no more than 300 words) from the top two vote-getting faculty members.  In this communication, committee chair should note that the faculty member is one of two members with the most votes for that year.
  • If at any time committee members, including the committee chair, are one of the top two vote getters in a particular discipline, they shall be asked to recuse themselves from the discussion and communication process.
  • Please note: faculty members contacted for statements are not required to submit short statements.  Letters or additional notes of support from students or colleagues are not permitted, but should faculty members wish to submit a statement, it may include, but is not limited to, any/all of the following:
    • teaching innovations that year
    • new classes
    • class size
    • changes to existing classes
    • student accomplishments from classes that year (either completed or projected);
    • a summary of teaching evaluations
    • one or more specific examples describing how the nominee has created a stimulating environment that facilitates learning
    • one or more specific examples describing how the nominee has inspired and encouraged analytical and creative thinking
    • one or more specific examples describing how the nominee has inspired and encouraged the development of knowledge, skills, and habits of mind appropriate to the discipline
    • one or more specific examples describing how the nominee has fostered understanding of how to communicate effectively within the discipline
  • Early April: Awards Committee meets to discuss faculty statements in conjunction with tallies.  Awards committee also may choose to solicit/examine teaching evaluations for any/all courses in which that faculty member was involved during the school year (given timing, course evaluations likely only will be available for fall).  Awards committee discusses and picks one winner per discipline and committee chair forwards the list to the director.  In the event that the committee is deadlocked on a decision, the director will make the decision.
  • Mid-April: The director writes individual emails to each of the winners (as well as to VCEA staff, possibly in time for VCEA convocation).
  • Late April: The committee chair must assist the director in recognizing the winners “in house” via a website announcement, OTIS announcement, faculty-staff meeting, email blast, commencement celebration, and/or some other means.

Other Considerations

  • It is expected that student tallies shall still hold significant weight in the final selection, but that faculty statements attesting to significant course alterations or innovation—along with general committee consensus—may reward a faculty member who did not receive the most student votes. Course evaluations may assist in this fashion as well.
  • While a single faculty member may win the award in two consecutive years, the committee is urged—but not required—to consider an alternate candidate for the third year.
  • The committee chair may be asked to assist the director or other school officials in compiling names, communicating with college staff, preparing certificates, or arranging separate venues or events in which to award faculty members.
  • This committee (and chair) may be asked to facilitate, coordinate, or nominate SDC faculty for other teaching awards during the course of the year, including the Reid Miller Teaching Excellence Award or university-level teaching awards.