Teaching Awards Ceremony
April 25, 2005
Catherine A. Rigsby – Chair of the Faculty
There was a special section
on education in the Sunday New York Times this week. I read it with great interest and a little
sadness. Interest, because like you I
value education and am always eager to read about university teaching. Sadness, because it painted such a negative
picture of the state of teaching in US universities. It is too bad the section’s authors didn’t
One article contained statistics from the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement. Statistics showing that one-fifth of undergraduates are "disengaged.” According to the survey director (George D. Kuh) being disengaged means that, among other things, students don’t take many different types of courses and don’t put much energy into the courses they do take – because they don’t have to do so to graduate.
The same article also
quoted Richard H. Hersh, a former president of
I wish Dr. Hersh was on our
campus today. He would see that not all
faculty and not all large public institutions fit his stereotype. He would see that here at ECU, thanks to
excellent, caring faculty, there are many students who are actively engaged in
And he would see that ECU – a large state university – puts a high value on helping students connect and on excellent teaching. Teaching that introduces students to diverse topics and interests. Teaching that helps students experience what Doris Betts called “mental fusion” – which, like its nuclear counterpart, releases energy.
All of you who have been
nominated stand in defiance of all the negative stereotypes. You understand that teaching is the main
reason we are here. The main reason
You should be particularly
proud to be here today – to have been selected as the best teachers at
Congratulations on your nomination! It is a significant honor that is not to be taken lightly. It is a symbol of what we value at ECU. And it says that you are the best of the best. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for defying the stereotypes. And, thank you for keeping teaching at the forefront of what we do well at ECU. You, your classes, and your students are all examples of what large state institutions can be – and what ECU is and always has been!