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Pam Russell
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For Immediate Release
Nov. 15, 2012

Inventive Instructors Recognized as 2012 U.S. Professors of the Year

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The head of a laboratory science program for deaf students, a psychologist studying millennial learners, a published poet active in the arts community and a mechanical engineer who shares his course materials with the world are the national winners of the 2012 U.S. Professors of the Year awards.

Sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the awards recognize professors for their influence on teaching and commitment to undergraduate students. In addition to the four national winners, there are 30 state Professors of the Year award winners and one from the District of Columbia.

National and state winners of the 2012 U.S. Professors of the Year awards will be honored today at a luncheon and awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Introduced by former students, national winners will make remarks at the event.

The four national winners are:

  • Christy Price, Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year: Price is professor of psychology at Dalton State College in Dalton, Ga. She is a nationally recognized authority on innovative teaching techniques to engage millennial learners. She has used her expertise to help design an academic program for first-year students, coordinate a successful initiative to increase Dalton State's student retention rate and lead fellow instructors through a project to redesign their courses. Judges praised Price's use of online review games, social media and other active learning techniques vs. rote memorization to engage students in psychology and inspire them to use what they've learned to tackle global and social justice issues.
  • Lois Roma-Deeley, Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year: Roma-Deeley is professor of creative writing at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. She is an award-winning, published poet and a champion for creative writing programs at two-year institutions nationwide. At her own institution, she expanded the creative writing program from a one-day class to a now-pending certificate program with multiple course offerings in various genres. She also designed and administers a lauded visiting writer and scholar lecture series on her campus and coordinates a popular annual creative writing competition for undergraduates. Judges were impressed by her ability to inspire her students in creative writing and to engage them in a variety of arts opportunities outside of class.
  • Autar Kaw, Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year: Kaw is professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. He has designed open coursework, funded by the National Science Foundation, for the teaching of numerical methods. In addition, he is currently designing and testing an interactive tool that educators can use to assess how well they teach numerical methods. Judges recognized Kaw as an engaging instructor who uses a variety of teaching techniques, including social media, and learning assessments that are informed by his research to reach, encourage and challenge a diverse student population.
  • Todd Pagano, Outstanding Master's Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year: Pagano is associate professor in the department of science and mathematics and director of the laboratory science program at the Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y. He is a leading scholar of science education for deaf students and an advocate in the professional chemistry community for students, scientists and technicians with special needs. Judges praised Pagano for helping open up a new profession for this underrepresented group and his advocacy and dedication to advancing scholarship about teaching science to these individuals.

The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program, created in 1981, is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

John Lippincott, president of CASE, commended this year's award winners for their "intentional, innovative and inspirational" approach to the classroom experience.

"While our nation enjoys an extraordinary pool of talented professors, those we honor today are truly exceptional," Lippincott said. "We applaud their belief in a learning process that involves mutual discovery and their dedication to the principle that knowledge liberates, empowers and humanizes us."

Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, said today's winners have "drawn on the best of what we know from cognitive science, learning theory and evidence-based practices in post-secondary instruction to orchestrate extraordinary opportunities for the students in their classrooms."

"In honoring these distinguished professors who have exhibited excellence in teaching in their disciplines and extraordinary dedication to their students, we are supporting the centrality of teaching on campus and recognizing its importance to the future of our country," Bryk said.

This year's U.S. Professors of the Year award winners were selected from a pool of nearly 300 nominees. Judges selected national and state winners based on four criteria: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former students.

TIAA-CREF, a financial services and retirement organization, is the principal sponsor of the awards ceremony. Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest academic honor society, sponsors an evening congressional reception for the winners at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Other sponsors of the awards program are the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Association of University Professors, the Association of Community College Trustees, the Council of Independent Colleges and the National Council of University Research Administrators.

About Carnegie

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to developing networks of ideas, individuals, and institutions to advance teaching and learning. We join together scholars, practitioners, and designers in new ways to solve problems of educational practice. Toward this end, we work to integrate the discipline of improvement science into education with the goal of building the field's capacity to improve.

About CASE

CASE believes in advancing education to transform lives and society. As a global nonprofit membership association of educational institutions, CASE helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success in challenging times. The communities include staff engaged in alumni relations, fundraising, marketing, student recruitment, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications and government relations. CASE is volunteer-led and uses the intellectual capital of senior practitioners to build capacity and capability across the world.

CASE has offices in Washington, D.C., London, Singapore and Mexico City. Member institutions include more than 3,700 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in 82 countries. CASE serves nearly 88,000 practitioners. For more information about CASE, please visit www.case.org.

About TIAA-CREF
The TIAA-CREF family of companies is a prominent financial services organization dedicated to providing lifetime financial security to those in the healthcare, academic, cultural and research fields; for people whose work serves others. An organization with $495 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, 2012, TIAA-CREF has more than 3.7 million participants in more than 27,000 plans and 15,000 public and private institutions.

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