Excerpts from an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education 24 November 2000

4 Professors Win Top National Prize for College Teaching


Four faculty members from vastly different worlds -- a
baccalaureate college, a community college, a master's
institution, and a Ph.D.-granting university -- are sitting in
a room talking about teaching.

In an academic climate where research still rules, teaching
might seem a strange topic of choice, but it is a subject near
and dear to these four professors: Last week two of the
biggest educational associations in the country pronounced
them the winners of the annual "U.S. Professors of the Year"

The prestigious prize, which has been around since 1981, is
jointly awarded by the Council for Advancement and Support of
Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching. According to CASE, it is the only national award
given to college and university professors in recognition of
their teaching.

Many professors hoped to be recognized; nearly 500 were
nominated for the $5,000 prize. But only four made the final
cut: Robert Garvey, an associate professor of physics at the
College of the Holy Cross; Brad Baker, a theater professor in
the Collin County Community College District in Plano, Tex.;
Kathleen Regan, an assistant professor of foreign languages at
the University of Portland; and Craig E. Nelson, a professor
of biology and of public and environmental affairs at Indiana
University at Bloomington.

Three panels of judges selected the four winners based on
their impact on students, their scholarly approach to
teaching, and their contributions to undergraduate education.

Professors need to know a thing or two themselves, and Mr.
Nelson is prepared to teach them. Mr. Nelson teaches a range
of courses -- everything from introductory biology to graduate
courses in evolution. But it's as a teacher of teachers that
Mr. Nelson has made his biggest mark. Mr. Nelson has published
extensively on pedagogy and has held numerous seminars for
faculty members on teaching.

Mr. Nelson may not be preaching to the choir when he talks
about teaching, but he thinks the constituency of interested
parties is growing. "In the last five years, there's been a
groundswell of change," he notes. "We are radically expanding
the ways in which we know how to evaluate teaching." Ten years
ago, online course portfolios for tenure that received the
same kind of peer review as scholarly articles were unheard
of, Mr. Nelson notes. Now, they may not be commonplace, but
they are not uncommon, either, he says.