New Mexico State University’s Teaching Academy hosted the 19th annual Teaching Academy Gala to celebrate and recognize Teaching Academy members and donors May 4.
The gala hosted 120 faculty, staff and graduate students. These participants are all members of or donors to the Teaching Academy, a member-driven, donor-supported center providing professional development in teaching, scholarly writing, diversity, leadership, mentoring and promotion and tenure.
The gala included an awards ceremony and Champagne and Chocolate reception. The gala honored four major donors, the Teaching Academy’s most distinguished members, a teaching award winner, an outstanding mentor and an honorary member. NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and interim Provost Dorothy Campbell delivered remarks at the event.
“The Teaching Academy Gala celebrates Teaching Academy members and donors; teachers, scholars, leaders and mentors,” said Tara Gray, director of the Teaching Academy. “The gala is a proud tradition and is being celebrated for the 19th time. Faculty and students both have been deeply affected by COVID-19 and the online pivot. It is especially good to celebrate teachers and teaching this year.”
The Teaching Academy boasts 103 donors, and honored four major donors, including John Campbell from Animal and Range Sciences; Brian Hampton from Geological Sciences; Ina Turner Gray, a friend of the academy; and Barbara Robinson from Doña Ana Community College Adult Basic Education.
Sarah Wheat, Teri Orr and Amy Marion were honored as most distinguished members, the members who participated in more events than any other graduate student, faculty or staff member, respectively. Then, 321 faculty, staff and graduate students earned a membership in the Teaching Academy by participating in seven or more hours of events.
Wheat, a Ph.D. student in psychology, studies experimental-social psychology. Her research focuses on sexuality education, bisexuality and sexual behaviors. She teaches undergraduate courses at both NMSU and El Paso Community College and currently serves as a graduate assistant with the Teaching Academy.
Orr, biology assistant professor, focuses on teaching comparative and human physiology. She started her position in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and used the opportunity to overcome the challenges it came with, such as increased flexibility, mental health awareness and helping students excel in class.
Marion, biology laboratory coordinator, has been serving in this position since 2002. She develops the curriculum and coordinates the teaching for three introductory biology laboratory courses as well as supervises the training of graduate teaching assistants. Marion has earned more than 210 lifetime Teaching Academy hours.
Mary Fahrenbruck, curriculum and instruction associate professor, received the Outstanding Mentor Award. Fahrenbruck teaches undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in literacy courses designed for educators. Her research interests include access to literacy, global children’s and adolescent literature and miscue analysis. Her most recent research project, in collaboration with Saundra Trujillo, criminal justice assistant professor, examines the effects of teaching criminology and criminal justice theory using young adult literature.
James McAteer, astronomy department head and assistant professor, received the Truly Innovative Teaching Award. After realizing he knew little about teaching, McAteer changed his perspective on how students learn, leading him to win a National Science Foundation Career award in 2013 that focused on developing the team-based learning model to maximize student learning in classes with a large diversity of student backgrounds and expectations.
Greg Fant, former deputy provost and associate vice president, received the Honorary Member Award, which was given for his remarkable contributions to faculty development on campus. Fant served NMSU for 30 years in numerous ways including interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, associate dean, assistant dean and department head of music. When the shift to online began, Fant advocated for faculty professional development for online teaching, research-based standards for online course design and teaching, dedicated technology support as well as up-to-date distance education policies.