Finalists Selected for Baylor's $250,000 Cherry Award for Great Teaching

  • News Photo 5115
  • News Photo 5113
    Dr. Brian P. Coppola, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan, is one of three preeminent scholar/teachers from U.S. universities have been selected as finalists for Baylor University's 2012 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.
  • News Photo 5114
    Dr. Heather Macdonald, Chancellor Professor of Geology, College of William & Mary, is one of three preeminent scholar/teachers from U.S. universities have been selected as finalists for Baylor University's 2012 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.
    Photo credit: Stephen Salpukas, College of William and Mary
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    Dr. Allen J. Matusow, W.G. Twyman Professor of History, Rice University, is one of three preeminent scholar/teachers from U.S. universities have been selected as finalists for Baylor University's 2012 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.
    Photo courtesy of Rice University
April 13, 2011

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Three preeminent scholar/teachers from U.S. universities have been selected as finalists for Baylor University's 2012 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the only national teaching award -- with the single largest monetary reward of $250,000 -- presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. The winning professor will be announced by Baylor in spring 2012.

The three finalists are:

    Dr. Brian P. Coppola, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan
    Dr. Heather Macdonald, Chancellor Professor of Geology, College of William & Mary
    Dr. Allen J. Matusow, W.G. Twyman Professor of History, Rice University

As Cherry Award finalists, each professor will receive $15,000, as well as $10,000 for their home departments to foster the development of teaching skills. Each finalist will present a series of lectures at Baylor during fall 2011 and also a Cherry Award lecture on their home campuses during the upcoming academic year.

The eventual Cherry Award winner will receive $250,000, as well as an additional $25,000 for his/her home department and will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2012 or spring 2013.

About the Cherry Award

The Cherry Award program is designed to honor great teachers, to stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and to encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. Individuals nominated for the award have a proven record as an extraordinary teacher with a positive, inspiring and long-lasting effect on students, along with a record of distinguished scholarship.

The award was created by Robert Foster Cherry, who earned his A.B. from Baylor in 1929. He enrolled in the Baylor Law School in 1932 and passed the Texas State Bar Examination the following year. With a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, he made an exceptional estate bequest to establish the Cherry Award program to recognize excellent teachers and bring them in contact with Baylor students. The first Robert Foster Cherry Award was made in 1991 and has since been awarded biennially. More about the Cherry Award is available at www.baylor.edu/cherry_awards.

Dr. Brian P. Coppola

Dr. Brian P. Coppola is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan. He currently serves as the department's associate chair and also serves as associate director for the University of Michigan-Peking University Joint Institute, in Beijing, China.

Coppola received his B.S. degree in 1978 from the University of New Hampshire and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. He joined the Michigan faculty in 1986, and was promoted to full professor of chemistry in 2001. His recent publications range from mechanistic organic chemistry research in 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reactions to educational philosophy, practice and assessment.

Coppola co-directs the IDEA Institute (Instructional Development and Educational Assessment), a collaboration between Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts and the School of Education. At the post-secondary level, IDEA activities broaden the scholarly development for all students (undergraduate to post-doctoral) who are interested in academic careers. Students have the opportunity to collaborate on teaching projects with the faculty members in the same way that they pursue their research projects. IDEA also targets precollege teaching and learning with the same challenge: how can teachers bring their own ideas forward by collaborating with university students and faculty members.

A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Coppola has been honored numerous times for teaching, including his selection in 2009 as the CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year (for doctoral institutions). His addition awards include: 2006 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, the 2004 CASE/Carnegie State of Michigan Professor of the Year, the 2004 Kendall-Hunt Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teachers, the 2003 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the National Science Teachers Association and 1999 Amoco Foundation Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In addition, he was among the first group of Carnegie Scholars affiliated with The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's CASTL program (Carnegie Academy on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning).

Coppola is a member of the editorial boards of The Chemical Educator, The International Journal of Science Education, the Journal of Science Education and Technology and the >i>Journal of Chemical Education. He is an associate editor for The Journal for Research in Science Teaching, and he is the editor in chief of The Hexagon, the quarterly publication of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity.

Dr. Heather Macdonald

Dr. Heather Macdonald has served as Chancellor Professor at The College of William and Mary since 2006. She joined the William & Mary faculty in 1983 and has served in various roles, including geology department chair from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2008, and dean of undergraduate studies of arts and sciences from 1994 to 1996. She currently co-directs the school's marine science minor program.

Macdonald earned her B.A. cum laude in geology from Carleton College in 1976. She received her M.S. in 1979 and Ph.D. in 1984 in geology, both from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include geoscience education, carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy.

Macdonald is known for her award-winning work with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) "On the Cutting Edge" project that helps geoscience faculty stay up-to-date with both geoscience research and teaching methods. The workshop series and website combine to provide professional development opportunities, resources and opportunities for faculty to interact on-line and in person with colleagues around the world who are focused on improving their teaching. This work is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education.

Macdonald and her team have been honored with awards for the On the Cutting Edge website, including the 2010 Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE), given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and 2009 Best Website Award from the Geoscience Information Society.

A Fellow of the Geological Society of America, Macdonald has been honored numerous times for teaching, including the 2009 Neil Miner Award presented by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers each year to one individual for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences; the 2003 State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award; 1992 BEST (Biggs Earth Science Teaching) Award, given by the Geological Society of America annually to one faculty member in his/her first 10 years of teaching; the 1990 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award from the College of William and Mary; 1989 William and Mary Alumni Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching; and the 1979 Stanley A. Tyler Award for Excellence in Teaching by the department of geology and geophysics at the University of Wisconsin.

Macdonald has served in leadership positions for numerous professional organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, Association for Women Geoscientists, American Geological Institute, Science and Technology for Children (STC) Advisory Committee, National Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Science Education and Committee on the Preparation of Science & Mathematics Teachers and National Association of Geoscience Teachers, where she served as president from 1995-96. She also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Geoscience Education from 1997-2000.

Dr. Allen J. Matusow

Dr. Allen J. Matusow is The W.G. Twyman Professor of History and associate director for academic programs at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. He joined the Rice faculty in 1963 and has served in several roles, including dean of humanities at Rice from 1981-95.

Matusow earned his B.A. from Ursinus College in 1958 and received his M.A. in 1959 and Ph.D. in 1963, both from Harvard University. His areas of interest include the foreign policy of Nixon and Kissinger, post World War II American foreign policy and U.S. history 1945-1974.

On teaching leave from Rice for the 2010-11 academic year, Matusow currently is writing a book on Jimmy Carter and the Cold War. Among his additional books are Nixon's Economy: Boom, Busts, Dollars, & Votes (University of Kansas, 1998), The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s (Harper & Row, 1984) and Farm Policies and Politics in the Truman Years (Harvard Univ., 1967).

Matusow also has received numerous honors for teaching, including the Brown Award for Superior Teaching from Rice in 1969, 1970, 1975 and 1982; Nicholas Salgo Distinguished Teacher Award in 1979 and 1999; Piper Professorship Award in 1980; and Brown Honorary Life Teaching Award from Rice in 1985. He was a Fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard from 1970-1971 and was honored with a Fellowship at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in 1974 and a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1974.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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