The Washington State University President’s Teaching Academy is seeking nominations through March 16 for faculty from every college and campus to be members of the university’s premier organization dedicated to teaching excellence, chair Clif Stratton has announced.

“Our university is continuously evolving and through the Teaching Academy we help to assure our students and constituents that we are committed to providing unsurpassed teaching that supports transformative educational experiences,” he said.

“At this time, we invite nominations of, and applications from, educators who are committed to ideas, pedagogy, innovation, and service that will energize the Academy and serve the university and its students in the best ways possible.

“While any tenured and tenure-track and career-track faculty member with at least three years of teaching service at WSU is welcome to self-nominate and apply, the Academy also encourages nominations from deans and administrators.”

Goals and responsibilities

According to its website, membership is “permanent recognition of one’s teaching excellence” while also a commitment to actively participate in the mission of the Academy.

That mission is to provide advocacy for fellow faculty and graduate students who teach, share expertise, and be a resource to enable the WSU faculty to involve students in transformative learning experiences, and to promote a university culture that values and rewards excellence and scholarship in teaching.

Those chosen for membership are active in faculty advocacy, shaping university policy, grant and award review, cross-disciplinary peer evaluation, informal mentorship, and professional development efforts. Members may serve on Academy committees and must attend some meetings throughout the year.

Nominations, recommendations online

An online form makes the nomination process easy yet thorough, said Stratton. Applicants upload short anecdotes about their teaching experiences, choosing from among those that are funny, rewarding, eye-opening, or disappointing. They must also submit an up-to-two-page summary describing details of their teaching effectiveness. Stratton adds that two letters of recommendation are another integral part of the application—one from a student and another from a colleague, mentor, or administrator.

“When complete, the application provides the Academy with a vivid and comprehensive view of the experience and expertise of the teacher. It gives our selection committee great insights into the individual as an educator at WSU.”

Prestigious company

The Teaching Academy was envisioned as part of WSU’s 2000-2002 strategic planning process, wherein the need was identified for a high-level advocacy group to advance the teaching mission at the institution. In spring 2004, 12 faculty were selected as inaugural members.

Over the years, the Academy has, among other charges and accomplishments, led workshops, helped define the Learning Goals and Outcomes of the Baccalaureate, championed efforts to engage undergraduates in research, developed a set of performance criteria for the scholarship of teaching and learning, made awards for top teaching efforts, promoted educational research and publishing, supported professional development to improve teaching, and provided cross-disciplinary collaboration to build critical mass for innovation and advancement.

To date, nearly 60 faculty have been selected as Academy members; the current active membership is 34. Bylaws call for membership size to accommodate the workload of the Academy while suiting organizational initiatives and prospective member qualifications. Calls for nominations have never happened annually, though that may change according to the Teaching Academy’s evolving role at the university, Stratton speculated.

Current leadership

The current Teaching Academy Coordinating Board of officers include Stratton (College of Arts and Sciences), Vice Chair Joy Egbert (College of Education), and Secretary Sabine Davis (College of Arts and Sciences). Leaders of Academy standing committees are Cassandra Gulam (College of Arts and Sciences) for membership, Phil Mixter (College of Veterinary Medicine) for professional development, and Samantha Gizerian (College of Veterinary Medicine) for grants and awards. The position to lead the media committee is currently vacant. All but Gulam are at WSU Pullman; she is at WSU Vancouver.

For more information about nominations, visit the academy’s website. Stratton can be reached at 509-335-2230 or clif.stratton@wsu.edu.