OGDEN, Utah – For the third time in four years, Utah's professor of the year comes from Weber State University.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education has named Eric Amsel, professor and chair of WSU's Department of Psychology, the 2006 Utah Professor of the Year.
Amsel was pleasantly surprised by the news. "Frankly, I'm not sure I'm the best professor in the department, not to mention the university or the state," he said. "I was really surprised when I found out."
"Paying it forward" has been Amsel's teaching philosophy since taking his first academic job at the University of Saskatchewan in 1987. As a struggling high school student, he found many mentors on his way to becoming a professor, which has motivated him to go the extra mile for his students. "I feel I'm at my best when I'm working individually with students," he said. "In that situation, we're helping each other with our individual talents."
The highlight for Amsel is when his students achieve more than they expected. "I love when my students do well and go farther than they think possible," he said.
Recipients of the professor of the year award are chosen based on extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching, which is demonstrated by excellence in the following areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected four national winners and the state winners. Amsel was selected from among faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.
WSU faculty members are making a habit of winning this award. In 2005, clinical laboratory sciences chair and professor Yasmen Simonian was honored as Utah's Professor of the Year. Political Science professor Frank Guliuzza received the honor in 2003.
"Receiving this award for the third time in four years is a powerful testament to the quality of the Weber State University faculty," said Provost Michael Vaughan. "Our faculty are passionate about teaching and their dedication is invaluable to our students and their education."
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie "to do all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of teaching." The foundation is the only advanced-study center for teachers in the world and the third-oldest foundation in the nation.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of educational institutions, with more than 3,200 colleges, universities, and independent elementary and secondary schools in nearly 50 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Representing these institutions are more than 38,000 professionals in the disciplines of alumni relations, communications and fund raising. Additional affiliates include educationally related non-profit organizations and commercial firms.
Since joining WSU's psychology department, Amsel also has earned the Lowe Award for Innovative Teaching, the Endowed Professor of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the John S. Hinckley Fellowship. He will deliver the annual Hinckley Lecture on Dec. 5 and will focus on hypothetical thinking and its development and promotion in college.
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