Baylor honors Rice professor with Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

Baylor University named Michelle Rae Hebl, Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of Psychology at Rice University, as the 2016 recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.

The Cherry Award is 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 award program is designed to honor great teachers, stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and encourage departments and institutions to recognize their own great teachers.

"Dr. Hebl has a remarkable record of recognized teaching and scholarship awards," said Dr. Michael W. Thompson, committee chair and associate dean for undergraduate programs in Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science. "The Cherry committee was particularly impressed with her passion and enthusiasm for teaching and her ability to engage with both students and faculty across a variety of disciplines."

Hebl will receive the $250,000 award and an additional $25,000 for the psychology department at Rice University. She is expected to teach in residence at Baylor during the spring 2017 semester.

"I feel thrilled and humbled," Hebl said. "It was easy for me to envision not being selected over the final two months, particularly given that the other two finalists, Teresa Balser (Curtin University) and Lisa Spaar (University of Virginia), clearly are very gifted and accomplished teachers. I feel lucky to be in their company as well as the other folks who were considered."

Hebl earned her BA in psychology with high honors from Smith College in 1991, a master's degree in psychology from Texas A&M University in 1993 and a PhD in psychology from Dartmouth in 1997. She has served as professor of psychology at Rice University since 1998.

Hebl presented Mindbugs and Gorillas and White Bears, Oh My! as her Cherry finalist lecture, which demonstrated how people with the best of intentions and education also hold biases, possess skewed beliefs about themselves and express discrimination toward others. View the lecture at