Approximately 10,000 faculty in the food and agricultural sciences are appointed in more than 100 institutions throughout the U.S. One factor that is common throughout the system: there are excellent faculty in each institution who deserve recognition for their teaching efforts. Nominators are key to promoting the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards Program, from identifying worthy nominees to assistance in preparing the nomination. To assist potential nominators in their role, recent selection panel members were polled and asked to respond to two questions. Their responses should be helpful to nominators in the awards process.
What facts and information help distinguish the top nominees from the others?
What qualities are most important and what evidence supports excellence in nominees?
One overriding theme seems to appear in the comments from the former selection panels. It is imperative to start the process early, not just in getting the materials ready but also getting nominees ready. Academic administrators should be working closely with unit leaders to ensure that worthy candidates are nominated for “local” and professional association awards. Then those recipients become a list of potential nominees for the USDA awards.
Starting early also means selecting nominees prior to the nomination deadline so that there is sufficient time to prepare the materials. Having the nomination packet reviewed by someone who is not familiar with the nominee (or even the awards program) could serve as a test run of the selection process. Reviewers who are provided with the evaluation criteria and the suggestions offered in this paper should be able to provide valuable feedback to the nominator and nominee.
There are always potential nominees who are reluctant to go through the process, since it is a bit of “blowing one’s own horn.” Therefore, academic administrators must pro-actively seek out potential nominees, and then be sure the nominees follow through since the largest portion of the nomination is self-description. Academic administrators are encouraged to get their players ready because faculty deserve the recognition, and the teaching part of the college can benefit from being in the limelight.