(image credit: Jaelle Matthieu)

While teaching and advising do have some similarities, the Excellence in Teaching Awards and the Excellence in Advising Awards make sure to not only celebrate the most exceptional in each category, but also have the community recognize and celebrate the differences between the two.

For the Excellence in Teaching Awards, the main goal is to give an opportunity for the most exceptional teachers among the undergraduate college at SNHU to be honored each year. The academic affairs office and the committee invite university campus undergraduate students to nominate their best instructors for this reward each year. The committee for the teaching award is comprised of the Assistant Vice President of Academic Operations, the deans of the schools of arts and sciences, education and business, the Vice President of Student Affairs, two members of the center for teaching and learning and three or four students from the student government association.

Jane Yerrington, the Assistant Vice President of Academic Operations at SNHU, gave some insight into the mindset of the committee when it comes to the nomination process as a whole.

“We look for you as the students on campus to give us these nominations,” said Yerrington.

The committee will accept as many nominations as the student wishes to nominate and looks for one full time faculty member and one adjunct instructor. Subsequently, the opportunity is given to students to make any professor that made a positive impact on each students’ respective educational journey more well known to the SNHU community through this process.

“It’s important you share with us this story and how they impacted you. Not only in the classroom but outside the classroom,” Yerrington stated.

In practice, the process for the Excellence in Teaching nominations are done through a Qualtrics survey. Students are asked to give their name, major and the name of the faculty member a student wants to nominate. Questions on the survey mainly have to do with how a teacher made an impact on a student’s learning.

“Answers received range from being either a simple paragraph to two or three pages,” Yerrington explained.

The process is open for about two and a half weeks. The Marketing Assistance Communications team helps get the word out for the awards through social media and mySNHU. Submissions for nominations opened originally on January 29 and close down on February 16.

The data is then collected and time is spent going through the nominee submissions. Winners of the nominee pool are decided based on those faculty or adjuncts who received two or more nominations. Once the final pool is determined, the finalists are contacted for their resume, recent student evaluations, and statement of teaching philosophy.

Finalists have to submit a portfolio of all these pieces of information in order to be considered.

The COCE enacts a parallel process for its excellence in teaching awards as well.

Finalists have from February 19 through March 23 to complete their portfolios for the final segment of the process. In their portfolios, the finalists have to collect three student evaluations and a statement of teaching philosophy. The Excellence in Teaching Awards has a been a tradition for the SNHU community for a long time.

Whoever gets to be recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award becomes the mace bearer. Essentially, the mace bearer is the individual at commencement for the university college ceremony who carries the mace of the institution.

As for the Excellence in Advising Awards, this is where the most exceptional advisors in the SNHU community get community wide recognition for their service. It was created relatively recently. Submissions are also from January 29 to February 16 and the pool opens from February 19 to March 23 and the portfolios are done the same way.

Nominee submissions are also done through a SNHU Qualtrics survey with questions that ask students if they’ve ever had an advisor that’s either academic, professional, or faculty that went above and beyond and made a positive influence on their lives. One faculty advisor and one full time advisor are selected for these awards. These awards are also an opportunity for the most exceptional advisor within SNHU’s campus undergraduate program to be honored annually.

Questions on the survey for the excellence in advising awards make sure responses are specific to the nominee’s advising role, not their teaching role.

Since the Excellence in Teaching Awards already gives the opportunity for exceptional teachers to get widespread recognition, the Excellence in Advising Awards makes sure exceptional advisors are given widespread recognition. The winner of either award receives a plaque with their name on it at commencement for the university college, but it’s a surprise for the recipients. There’s a cash reward as well.

Students get the chance to see either their teacher or advisor get that award and get recognized, which is also considered an award for the community.

As for its impact on the SNHU community as a whole, the goal is to display the university’s commitment to student engagement. Yerrington reflected on this aspect of the two awards.

“I think it has a lot to do with the demonstration of Instructors and advisors commitment to the student’s success here at the institution, and demonstrates SNHU’s main goal as being a learning institution.”

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