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January 19, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's Center for Teaching Excellence is launching the SMU Academy of Distinguished Teachers, a new program that recognizes teaching excellence with a $10,000 Distinguished Teacher Award and provides professors the opportunity to share their accomplishments through discussions, workshops and mentoring with other professors.

The Distinguished Teacher Award, made possible by a gift from SMU Board Chair Ruth Altshuler, will be presented each spring to four faculty members who will each serve a two-year term in the Academy. Membership in the academy eventually will total eight.

"The Academy concept was proposed to lift teaching and learning at SMU to the next level and give professors the opportunity to share their experiences and contribute their expertise to the benefit of the community of teacher-scholars," said Ron Wetherington, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. "Unlike other awards, the Distinguished Teacher Award has nothing to do with publishing and research. It is strictly honoring pedagogical effort."

Candidates for the award must be tenured, full-time professors who have taught for a minimum of five years at SMU with credentials, and are not planning any sabbatical leaves within the next two years. They must be willing to participate in symposia, workshops and as mentors during their appointment to the Academy.

Nominations begin this month from graduate students, undergraduate students, deans and department chairs. Nominations will be screened through the Center for Teaching Excellence and a list of eight to 10 finalists will be presented to the university provost for final selection. The first announcement of the four initial members will be in spring 2001.

"The nomination process is being structured to allow students, faculty, deans and academic chairs to participate," said Professor Ellen Jackofsky, Associate Provost and ex officio member of the Center's Commission, the governing board for the Center for Teaching Excellence.

SMU's Center for Teaching Excellence was launched in 1997 to support the faculty in pursuit of excellence in teaching. The center sponsors an annual Teaching Effectiveness Symposium for faculty, as well as a Teaching Assistant's Seminar that teaches graduate students how to teach, be effective discussion leaders and conduct effective classes. Many of the teaching assistants also serve as tutors in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center at SMU. The Center for Teaching Excellence also provides hands-on workshops and technology training opportunities, brown bag luncheons and round-table discussions on wide ranging topics for faculty members throughout the year.