University honors its most outstanding professors

The 15 professors who won will get a salary increase and money for their departments.

Jamie VanGeest

The University honored 15 professors systemwide with Distinguished Teaching Awards on Monday at McNamara Alumni Center to recognize excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching.

For the 41st year, eight faculty members received the Horace T. Morse-University Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, which honors professors for their work in undergraduate education, according to the University Alumni Association Web site.

Seven professors received the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education, which recognizes excellence in post-baccalaureate, graduate and professional education. This award has been given since 1999, said Richard McCormick, chairman of University’s Senate Committee on Educational Policy.

The University honored 13 professors from the University’s Twin Cities campus, one from the Morris campus and one from the Duluth campus.

The award recipients are selected by the University’s Senate Committee on Educational Policy. Each faculty member is nominated by students or co-workers.

Each winner receives a $3,000 salary increase and $1,500 every year for five years for their departments.

Wendy Hellerstedt, an associate professor for the School of Public Health, received the award for graduate and professional education.

She received her undergraduate degree and doctorate at the University and said that when she started here, she realized she never wanted to leave.

“Good teaching is a part of a reciprocal relationship,” Hellerstedt said.

Pareena Lawrence, an associate professor at the University’s Morris campus, received an Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education Award.

“I think being a good professor means not just having a passion for your own subject, but for the development of the student,” she said.

During Lawrence’s speech, she said one of the best compliments she received from a student was being called normal, because it meant she was approachable. The professors who nominated Lawrence for the award accompanied her from Morris.

Deborah Levison, a recipient of an award for graduate and professional education, thanked her husband and her daughter, who skipped her kindergarten class to watch her mom accept the award.

Margaret Carlson, chief executive of the University Alumni Association, said this is one of the association’s largest events of the year.

“We hope to honor our academic all-stars,” she said.