The Donald F. Bletz teaching award is a Wilson tradition that began in 1995. The award was created in honor of Dr. Donald Bletz, a member of the faculty from 1975 to 1995 in the business and political science departments. He was also president of the college from Nov. 1979 to June 1982. To continue the recognition of dedicated faculty, the award is given to three faculty members each year in the following categories: senior, junior and adjunct faculty.
Anyone in the Wilson College community can nominate faculty members for the award. Each winner receives a plaque and a monetary award.
In addition to material awards, the honorees receive sentimental benefits from the recognition, such as “The satisfaction of knowing that colleagues and students appreciate their contributions and capabilities as teachers,” said Mary Hendrickson, Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Dean Robin Herring noted that a lot goes into choosing a winner for the award, such as the nominee’s development of effective, creative or innovative teaching methods, the ability to inspire students to achieve academically and in other ways such as leadership and social skills, and whether they have participated in leadership activities related to teaching.
The first winners of the Bletz Award were Ray Shively, Deb Austin, and Freya Burnett. Since then, an array of other faculty members have won, including Associate Professor of VMT George Bates, Adjunct Asst. Prof. Odrun Stevens and Professor Larry Shillock.
“I demand a re-count,” said Bates, when asked what his first reaction was upon learning he had won. Stevens and Shillock mentioned their surprise and all of the winners thanked those who nominated them.
“Faculty members at Wilson don’t set out to win teaching awards. Instead, they get up day after day and try to teach well. Their goal is to bring state-of-the-field knowledge to the class. Their hope is that students will benefit from what they present,” said Shillock.
“Just enjoy your job of teaching,” Stevens said.
“Maintain high academic standards; don’t lower those standards to curry favor with students or because you want to be universally beloved,” said Bates.
Winners of the award find out they were nominated only after they hear the announcement that they have won. Nominees who do not win remain unaware of their nomination. Nominations are closed for this year’s Bletz award and the winners will be announced at the Wilson College Award’s Ceremony on May 2.
For more information on the Bletz teaching award, contact Robin Herring at firstname.lastname@example.org.