About CASE

Pam Russell
Director of Communications


Nov. 16, 2006

CASE, Carnegie Name 2006 Top U.S. Professors of the Year

Winners Saluted for Commitment to Undergraduate Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A champion of community colleges, a leading scholar on Chinese studies, the world’s most cited astronomer, and a forensic anthropologist who takes students on crime scene investigations are this year’s national winners of the U.S. Professors of the Year Award.

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 their outstanding commitment to teaching undergraduate students.

TIAA-CREF, one of America's leading financial services organizations and higher education's premier retirement system, is the primary sponsor for the awards ceremony. Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honorary, sponsors an evening Congressional reception.

The Professors of the Year will be honored today at a luncheon sponsored by TIAA-CREF at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. The four national winners will speak at the luncheon after being introduced by a former or current student. The professors will be available for interviews.

The four national winners are:

  • Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor: K.E. Brashier, associate professor of religion and humanities, Reed College, Portland, Ore. A foremost scholar of the Chinese ancestral cult, Brashier brings his enthusiasm for the discipline to his students through personal insights, poetry and humor. During his seven years at Reed, Brashier has consistently received top marks in student evaluations, an accomplishment supported by colleagues who agree that he has a rare ability to translate his scholarly accomplishments into teaching excellence. His innovative teaching methods encourage even the quietest of students to participate in the discussion. Brashier has received many honors, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and was both a Rhodes Scholar and Harry S. Truman Scholar.
  • Outstanding Community Colleges Professor: Mark Lewine, professor of anthropology, Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio. Lewine’s commitment to promote community college education is evident in his teaching, both inside and outside of the classroom. During the past 35 years, he has worked to dispel stereotypes associated with community colleges and has encouraged graduate students and community college students to work together on archaeological digs, during which all educational differences disappear. Lewine’s teaching style is engaging, accessible, and demanding—all qualities that drive students to achieve their best work. He established the Center for Community Research, a community-linked research program that helps inner-city students learn about their city’s past and acquire higher education skills. Lewine is a recipient of the President’s Award from the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges.
  • Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor: Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy, University of California, Berkeley. Filippenko’s love of astronomy and passion for teaching developed at a young age. Since then, he has combined the two interests into a successful teaching career that has been marked with awards and accolades. Filippenko is noted for a teaching style that reaches beyond the traditional classroom lecture, employing music, visual props, and digital media to heighten the experience and engage his students. He has served as a mentor of numerous undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to become leading researchers at top-tier institutions. Beyond the classroom, Filippenko has the distinction of being the world’s most highly cited astronomer (1995-2005) and has received numerous awards for his research.
  • Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor: Donna C. Boyd, professor of anthropology, Radford University. As a leading forensic anthropologist, Boyd brings her dedication, encyclopedic knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject to the classroom; she has inspired and mentored numerous students, many of whom have gone on to prominent careers in the field. Boyd has received a rating of “outstanding” for teaching, research and service for each of her 16 years at Radford University. Her methodology takes students far from the classroom—she includes her students in real-world experiences, allowing them to accompany her on crime scene investigations, and her homework assignments include case studies of actual human remains. Her style is to be approachable and available to her students while holding them to her own high standards.

The program, created in 1981, is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

“This year’s four national Professors of the Year come from quite distinct academic environments, yet, they all share an abiding commitment to student learning, a profound belief in the transformative power of education, a pedagogical approach designed to stimulate creative and critical thinking, and a passionate devotion to their respective fields of study,” says John Lippincott, president of CASE. “They exemplify teaching at its best and, in so doing, remind us of what makes America’s colleges and universities truly great.”

Lee S. Shulman, president of The Carnegie Foundation, says that "at a time when America's universities and colleges are under attack for rising costs and eroding quality, it is reassuring and affirming to recognize these individuals who symbolize higher education's best-kept secret—its outstanding and committed teachers.”

“At all levels of our remarkable system, teachers like these reach the intelligence and spirit of their students,” he added. “Our four professorial awardees are not only representative of higher education at its best, but they also serve as dynamic models of excellence to which all those who educate can strive."

"The professors receiving this distinguished award exemplify the best in education and in our communities," says Nancy Tigner, Vice-President, TIAA-CREF. "In sponsoring this event, we honor our nearly 90-year mission of working on behalf of those who serve the greater good in the academic, research and cultural fields."

State Professors of the Year were also recognized in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.

This year's U.S. Professors of the Year winners were selected from a pool of nearly 300 nominees. Judges select a national winner in each of four categories—baccalaureate colleges, community colleges, doctoral and research universities, and master’s universities and colleges—and then name state winners from entries that meet the program’s demanding criteria.

Other sponsors include 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 Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the Council of Independent Colleges, the National Council of University Research Administrators, and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

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.

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.