Eleven faculty members receive UO’s highest teaching honors

President Michael Schill presenting an award

Apples and teachers have long been entwined, and at the University of Oregon the apple is used to honor the very best teachers with the annual Distinguished Teaching Awards.

This month, President Michael Schill and Provost Scott Coltrane presented 11 faculty members with either a crystal or myrtlewood apple as part of the UO’s spring ritual of honoring the university’s top teachers. The faculty members typically learn they have received the honor in a surprise presentation during a class or faculty meeting, allowing students and colleagues to share the celebration.

“Surprising our outstanding teaching faculty with these honors is one of the highlights of the job,” Schill said. “Sharing knowledge, sparking curiosity and inspiring creativity in the classroom is essential to the UO’s mission. We are proud to recognize these teachers who are helping to transform their students.”

The 11 honorees are listed below and additional information about each winner is listed on the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs website.

The Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching recognizes excellence in teaching by faculty members early in their careers and has been awarded since 1957. The Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy recognizes early-career faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional abilities to induce students to reason and who have expertise in a particular area of teaching.

The Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching, first awarded in 1985, is given to more senior faculty members who have demonstrated longstanding excellence in teaching at the university. The Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy honors senior faculty members for outstanding achievement in a focused area of teaching.

New for 2017, the Herman Award for Outstanding Online Education recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated at any stage of their career innovation and creativity in implementing excellent learning experiences using the online or hybrid format.

Students, faculty and staff nominated all of the faculty who were considered for the awards. Recipients were then selected by a committee largely made up of faculty who have previously won an award. Each faculty recipient received a certificate and a monetary award.

Winners of the Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching received crystal apples as a symbol of teaching excellence, and recipients of the Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy, the Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy and Herman Award for Outstanding Online Education received handcarved myrtlewood apples.

2017 Honorees:

Peter Alilunas, assistant professor, media studies area, School of Journalism and Communication; Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy, in recognition of achievement and expertise in the area of media studies.

Steven Brence, senior instructor I, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences; Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Caitlin Fausey, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences; Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Christopher Michlig, assistant professor, Department of Art, School of Architecture and Allied Arts; Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy, in recognition of achievement and expertise in the area of core studio.

Shannon Mockli, associate professor, Department of Dance, School of Music and Dance;
Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy, in recognition of achievement and expertise in the area of kinesthetic pedagogy.

Elly Vandegrift, senior instructor I, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences; Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy.

Akiko Walley, associate professor, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, School of Architecture and Allied Arts; Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Kristin Yarris, assistant professor, Department of International Studies, College of Arts and Sciences; Ersted Award for Specialized Pedagogy, in recognition of achievement and expertise in the area of global health.

Char Heitman, senior instructor II; Jennifer Rice, senior instructor I; and Beth Sheppard, senior instructor, all of the American English Institute, College of Arts and Sciences; jointly awarded the 2017 Thomas F. Herman Award for Outstanding Online Education, in recognition of innovation and creativity in implementing excellent online learning experiences.

The winners of the Distinguished Teaching Awards will be honored — along with the recipients of Research Excellence Awards, Williams Fellowships and Exceptional Mentorship Awards — at the Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, in the Giustina Ballroom of the Ford Alumni Center. The ceremony is co-hosted by the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs, the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.