Six top university educators will receive the 2009 Best Teacher Award tonight for their contributions to the university and their positive impact on the students and faculty as determined by the students who nominated them.
Members of the selection committee, comprised of employees from the CSU Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Connection, said the candidates were individually interviewed after nominated by students and chosen based on the level of commitment to CSU.
“We have this award to recognize outstanding teachers and the impact they have on students and alumni,” said CSU Alumni Connection coordinator Allison Cepello. “It is important, because it is honoring teachers that have a positive influence on their students, and it supports pride in our school.”
CSU students, staff, and alumni nominated the CSU professors by filling out an application and answering five questions about what makes each person special, how they demonstrate excellence and how they distinguish themselves from others.
Nomination requirements for the award included the abilities to:
Show evidence of contributing to CSU’s commitment to excellence
Show excellence in teaching and/or field of work
Be committed to the CSU and its students and
Be involved in the CSU community.
Faculty can also only be nominated for one award category per year and can only receive an award every five years. Once a professor has won an award, he or she cannot be re-nominated for it.
This year’s recipients include:
Brian Butki with the department of Health and Exercise Science
Chung-Fu Chang with the department of Music, Theater and Dance
Michael Eckhoff with the department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship
Tracy Richards with the department of Psychology
Alan Von Herrmann with the department of Mathematics, and
Toni Zimmerman with the department of Human Development and Family Studies.
Past recipients include the recently resigned CSU Police Chief and criminal justice instructor, Dexter Yarbrough, who accepted the award in 2007.
One of Yarbrough’s former students said, “I truly believe that he genuinely cared about his role as a professor and about us individually as students.”
All of these teachers were nominated by students who said they thought the teachers deserved the recognition.
“I nominated Brian (Butki) because he was the No. 1 influence for me in my college career,” said CSU graduate student Eric Martin. “He really helped shape me and where I am going.”
Martin said Butki is a great teacher because he customizes his classes, determining the persona of a group and fitting the class to that persona.
Butki said the true award is knowing that the honor is a validation of his commitment to education.
“Teaching and learning are central to the mission at CSU and to acknowledge people that are good at it is a wonderful thing,” he said. “It is completely humbling to receive this award and to get recognized for a job that I love and think is absolutely wonderful.”
The nominees said they were all very proud to be receiving the award and felt very honored that their students appreciate what they do.
“This award is incredibly meaningful for me,” Richards said. “To know that this is a student-nominated award and that students appreciate and find value in the work that I have done in the classroom is truly rewarding.”
School of the Arts dance professor Chang described why he loves teaching and finds it rewarding day in and day out.
“[Teaching] is like the feeling/a loving gardener receives after planting the seed, nurturing the fragile plant through the spring, and then seeing it grow strong and bloom brilliantly in the summer,” Chang said. /”It’s seeing my students getting ready to fly to their professional career that make me smile.”
These 2009 winners of the Best Teacher Award will be honored with a golden apple trophy at a ceremony Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom.
Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.