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Five University of Utah faculty recognized for exceptional teaching

The recipients are faculty changing higher education in amazing ways.

The University of Utah has recognized five exceptional teachers who increased learning, developed new methods and innovated curriculum this year.

The 2020 Early Career Teaching Awards recognize younger faculty who are changing higher education as they advance in their careers. The Calvin & JeNeal Hatch Prize in Teaching is given each year to an experienced professor who has been recognized for their years of extraordinary instruction and mentorship of students.

“Each of these recipients is undeniably deserving of this honor,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “The way that they teach and mentor their students leaves an indelible mark on the future attorneys, geologists, writers and business executives we are preparing for the changing world around us.”

This year’s recipients include faculty from the College of Mines, College of Humanities, Honors College and David Eccles School of Business. The Early Career winners are:

Cathy Hwang, an associate professor in the College of Law. Hwang was noted for her personal touch, including collecting bios on each of her students early in the semester, threading her courses with interactive projects and using novel teaching methods such as simulated client letters.

Peter Lippert, an assistant professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics. Lippert’s nominators noted his efforts to modernize and update every one of his courses. He designed a new undergraduate degree, Philosophy of Science with a Geoscience emphasis, developed an augmented reality “sandbox,” and expanded his college’s architecture rock slab collection.

Christopher Mead, an assistant professor and lecturer in the Honors College. In five years at the university, Mead has revamped the college’s seminal Intellectual Traditions Course, helped to launch the University of Utah Prison Education Program, developed the college’s student library and founded the Honors Beekeeping Club. He also has received the L. Jackson Newell Liberal Education Advancement Award and the Sweet Candy Distinguished Honors Professor award.

Christie Toth, an assistant professor in the Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies. Toth was recognized for her advocacy of marginalized and minority students, including creating infrastructure to support many transfer students through the university’s partnership with Salt Lake Community College. Toth raised $200,000 in private funding from community foundations and individual donors to support scholarships, fellowships and teaching assistance positions for her students.

The Calvin & JeNeal Hatch Prize

Don Wardell, professor in the Department of Operations and Information Systems, received the Hatch Prize. Over more than 25 years of teaching in the School of Business, Wardell has collected multiple teaching awards—nine in all, including the Brady Superior Teaching Award, the Masters Teaching Excellence Award (twice) and the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007.

As one of his PhD student nominators wrote:

I consider myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to take courses from Professor Wardell. His teaching has inspired me and significantly shaped who I am today. I often think back to when I was his student and I think about what he did in the classroom that helped me to learn. I try my best to emulate for my students what I believe are his core values…I continue to be inspired by him today and he remains the person I can always rely on for teaching advice.”

The Early Career and Hatch teaching award recipients were honored at the 2020 Commencement. Nominations for the 2021 teaching awards are due December 4.