• Baylor names finalists for 2018 Cherry Award, nation’s largest award for top teaching

    cherry-award-nomineesLate last month, Baylor announced the finalists for the university’s 2018 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Cherry Award, it’s a unique honor — not only honoring professors for great teaching, but investing in their work with a gift of $250,000. It’s the largest monetary gift for teaching presented by a college or university, and the only award of its kind in higher education.)

    Here are the finalists, who can be considered among the nation’s top college educators:

    Dr. Heidi Elmendorf, associate professor of biology, Georgetown University. For years, Elmendorf has researched an intestinal pathogen that causes debilitating and life-threatening diseases in a third of people in developing countries. She is the co-director of the Biology of Global Health major at Georgetown, as well as the founder and director of an educational partnership between the school’s biology department and a local D.C. high school.

    Dr. Neil Garg, professor of chemistry, UCLA. Garg’s research has solved long-standing problems in chemistry, and many of his discoveries are now used in the pharmaceutical industry to create the medicines of tomorrow. The 2015 California Professor of the Year, he’s famous among UCLA students for making them love a subject most students dread: organic chemistry. His unique teaching style includes online tutorials he calls BACON (Biology And Chemistry Online Notes) and an extra credit assignment to make a music video about o-chem.

    Dr. Clinton Longenecker, distinguished university professor of leadership, University of Toledo. Longenecker has already received over 50 awards for outstanding teaching, service and research. In 2006, he was inducted into the Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence Hall of Fame. In 2015, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Medical Missions Hall of Fame for his volunteer work in Haiti. And in 2013, he was recognized by The Economist as one of the Top 15 Business Professors in the World.

    The Cherry Award winner — to be announced next spring — will receive $250,000, plus an additional $25,000 for his or her home department. The award also greatly benefits Baylor students, as the winner will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2018 or spring 2019.

    Sic ’em, Cherry Award finalists!