The University of Washington Tacoma campus’ Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) nomination process closed January 20, nominees will have a chance to be one of seven faculty members in the UW community receiving the DTA. Given annually, the award honors those educators who as stated by the Office of the Chancellor website demonstrate, “exemplary teaching” which is categorized by criteria such as: engaging students and pulling out original and independent thought and a level of distinction, engendering creative works from students, engaging them in and outside of the classroom, participating in service learning and demonstrating community knowledge and mastery of their respective subject while showing continued development. All of these and more is what our nominees are expected to embody.
The nominees must submit support materials for the selection process to begin. The selection committee thoroughly reviews the materials to make their decision. The committee normally consists of one faculty member from each of the seven academic programs and an alumnus. This year they have five faculty members as two of the programs did not have a representative and no alumni was available. On average there are about five to 10 nominees but that is not the limit if more nominations are received. The committee’s goal is to reach a consensus once they have examined the materials from each nominee. Materials submitted are a sort of record of the nominees’ achievement: updated curriculum, awards or evidence of recognition, support letters and more. As a former DTA committee member and the Chair of the Distinguished Research Award selection committee, Dr. Yonn Dierwechter, Associate Professor of Urban Studies said, “Sometimes it is hard to get to that one winner, when many are deserving…but it’s a committee of many eyes and in that sense it has integrity to it because so many people have looked at the case, it’s not just one person…it’s about the record.”
Award recipients will attend all award ceremonies (UW Seattle and UW Tacoma’s) where they will be recognized for the honor, as well as the Commencement Ceremony. The recipient will also become Chair the Distinguished Teaching Award selection committee the year following their win. According to the Center for Teaching and Learning, “Generally, award recipients receive a cash award ranging from $3000-$5000” as another benefit of winning.
Donald Chinn, Institute of Technology Associate Professor, 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award winner, and current Chair of the selection committee sat down and spoke with The Ledger about the Award selection process and his role as Chair. Dr. Chinn stated, “As far as the selection process itself–evaluating the nominees– I am just one of the committee.” His role does not give him an overriding vote in the nomination process. His main role as the Chair is to, “make sure that people know about the nomination process…and work with staff to facilitate the nomination process and how the nominees submit their materials.” So really what he does is as he says, “all sorts of behind the scenes stuff.” The honor of the title and the behind the scenes duties is what the 2015 winner can look forward to.
Now is the time for nominees to be notified and to start gathering and submitting their materials. Nominations are to be announced by the Vice Chancellor at a future date, but keep an eye on the Ledger for further updates on the 2015 search for a Distinguished Teacher.