Nine ΦBK Members Named 2014 U.S. Professors of the Year

By Ali Valdrighi 

Nine Phi Beta Kappa Members were honored on November 20, 2014 with recognition as U.S. Professors of the Year. Eight received the award on the state level and one at the national level. The U.S. Professor of the Year Program is sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society. It is the only national award program to recognize top undergraduate teachers in the United States based on their teaching ability as well as the impact they have on students.  

According to the CASE website, all undergraduate teachers in the United States are eligible for the award. Winners are recognized in the media and often asked to present at business and professional events and even address Congress. Their undergraduate institution is also depicted as a model of excellence that is meant to exemplify an ideal learning environment for other schools.  National winners receive $5,000 from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a free trip for themselves, a guest and a current or former student to Washington, D.C. for the award ceremony, an invitation to speak at the award ceremony, recognition from members of Congress and an invitation to participate in activities promoting teaching during the year. State winners receive media recognition, an award certificate, and complimentary attendance for themselves and a guest at the award ceremony and a Congressional reception, which is sponsored each year by Phi Beta Kappa.  

Phi Beta Kappa member Patricia H. Kelly (ФBK, Harvard University, 1977) received the National U.S. Professor of the Year Award for her work as a professor of geology at University of North Carolina Wilmington. In her “Passion Statement,” Kelly describes her experience working with undergraduates on a research project involving fossiliferous sediment. Her students had the unique opportunity to collect data, write a formal report and present their findings in a semi-professional setting as part of University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Quality Enhancement Plan for applied learning.  

On the state level, representing the east coast Phi Beta Kappa contingent, Heidi Elmendorf (ФBK, Princeton University, 1988) of Georgetown University, District of Columbia was chosen for her teaching in biology; Beth Morling (ФBK, Princeton University, 1988) of the University of Delaware, Delaware for her teaching in psychology and brain science; and Paul Hanstedt (ФBK, Luther College, 1988) for his work as an English professor at Roanoke College, Virginia.  

From the middle region of the country CASE selected Michelle Whaley (ФBK, Scipps College, 1987) a biological sciences professor at University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Greg Zacharias (ФBK, New York University, 1982) an English professor at Creighton University, Nebraska; Elizabeth George (ФBK, University of Arizona, 1982) for her work at Wittenberg University, Ohio as a physics professor; and Collin Thomas (ФBK, University of Texas at Austin, 1994), as a professor of biology at Collin College, Texas.  

Finally, Jennifer Corpus (ФBK, University of Michigan, 1995) represents the west coast for her teaching in psychology at Reed College, Oregon. 

Clearly, Phi Beta Kappa members are making a strong impact on the academic world and continuing the facilitation of education into the next generation — congratulations! 

Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill (center) with ΦBK U.S. Professors of the Year at the Capitol Hill reception.

Ali Valdrighi is a senior at Pomona College majoring in neuroscience. Pomona College is home to the Gamma of California Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.