Five professors honored for excellence

The Office of Academic Affairs has presented at least five faculty members with the Excellence in Teaching Awards since 1985.
This year, out of 27 nominations, geography and earth science Professor Mark Francek; Hope May, philosophy assistant professor; English Professor Ronald Primeau; psychology Professor Debra Poole and Sonya Sheffert, psychology assistant professor, were selected to receive the award.
The Office of Academic Affairs began the process of selecting winners by soliciting applications from faculty and students.
Nominees are then evaluated by reviewing at the Student Opinion Survey, speaking with alumni and having colleagues complete an evaluation. The review is a blind one done by a committee of 10 faculty members and five current students.
“It is very difficult to select the recipients because there are a lot of good faculty members here at CMU,” said Catherine Riordan, assistant vice president for Curriculum and Assessment.
Excellent teachers are defined as being knowledgeable in one’s subject matter, respectful, sensitive, enthusiastic, inspiring, well prepared and organized, approachable and accessible, a role model and a high-quality presenter, she said.
The nominees awarded were just a little stronger in these areas, Riordan said.
At commencement in May, the recipients will receive an engraved clock and have their names included on the Excellence in Teaching plaque temporarily hung in Finch Fieldhouse.
Winners will receive $1,000 to be used for professional development, she said.
Francek has been a teacher in the department of geography at Central since 1988.
“It’s a great honor to receive this award,” Francek said. “Teaching excellence is something I’ve strived for so it is really a fulfillment of a dream.”
Being a bike enthusiast is something Francek said helps in his classes.
“I have pedaled my bike across America twice and I take pictures as I go and show them as slides in my Earth Science Classes. Me and my 11-year-old son are getting a tandem together to go to New York, and I will probably use the money toward the pictures I will take.”
May, hired in 1997, is an instructor in the philosophy and religion department with a focus on ancient Greece. She said she plans to spend the money she will receive on books and a database with a collection of ancient Greek text to be used as a research tool.
“This award provides further inspiration to work hard,” she said.
Primeau has been at Central for 30 years and works in the English department.
“Every summer I look out at freshman orientation, and I am struck by how much trust these students and their parents put in us,” he said. “This suggests that a strong mutual trust does exist, and I am delighted.”
He said he plans to use the money on attendance at professional conferences, teaching supplies and books.
Poole was hired in 1988, and said she plans to spend the money on day-to-day operating expenses, books and attendance at conferences.
“We have a tremendous number of excellent teachers here at CMU, so it’s a real honor to be selected for this award,” she said.
Sheffert is the newest staff member to receive this award; she is in her third year at Central.
“It was a really pleasant surprise to be selected,” she said.
She said she plans to use the money to support students who will assist with research.
“Congratulations, to not only the people who won the award, but all who were nominated,” Riordan said. “Everyone presented clear evidence of teaching excellence, and it was a very close decision.”