Recognizing great teaching

March 22, 2012

Michigan chemistry professor receives 2012 Cherry Award


On Jan. 12, Baylor University named Dr. Brian P. Coppola, The Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan, as the 2012 recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching.

"For the duration of our storied 167-year history, Baylor University has dedicated itself to the development and shaping of our students through the value we place on extraordinary classroom teaching," said Dr. Elizabeth Davis, BBA '84, Baylor's executive vice president and provost. "Our outstanding faculty continue that tradition to this day by equipping our students to reach the highest levels of academic and educational achievement.

"The Cherry Award allows us to extend that experience by bringing to our campus some of the world's greatest teachers, such as Dr. Coppola, an internationally known teacher/scholar who combines an impressive academic record with a stellar reputation for the extraordinary impact he has had on undergraduate students and the educational enterprise. We congratulate our 2012 Cherry Award recipient and we look forward to welcoming him to Baylor University."

"When Dr. Coppola visited with us in November to present his finalist lecture on 'The Liberal Art of Chemistry: Stories About Human Nature,' we found him to be very engaging and informed," said Dr. Patrick J. Farmer, professor and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences. "He brought personal and cultural insight to his lectures, and we believe our students will benefit greatly from him in the classroom as he teaches courses in organic chemistry."

Coppola recently completed 10 years as an associate chair in Michigan's chemistry department and also serves as associate director for the University of Michigan-Peking University Joint Institute in Beijing, China. He 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). He has also been honored by such groups as the American Chemical Society (Northeast Section) and the National Science Teachers Association.

As the 2012 Cherry Award recipient, Coppola will receive a $250,000 award and an additional $25,000 for his home department at the University of Michigan. He is expected to teach in residence at Baylor during spring 2013 semester.

The Cherry 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 inaugural Robert Foster Cherry Award was presented in 1991 and is now awarded biennially.