distinguished instructors?

Filigree — Nicolás Paris (1977), by Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 licenseToday’s news bulletin from Virginia Tech announced, “Two faculty members receive 2016 SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award.” It’s a good and wonderful thing for the two professors: Jacqueline E. Bixler, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Spanish, and Michael F. Hochella Jr., University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences.

It also gave me a couple of ideas. One rarely hears of a “Distinguished Instructor.” If the academy really wanted to support and recognize the work of the best instructors, we would find a collection of Distinguished Instructors at every school. But we don’t.

Further down, the article mentioned that “Bixler is an inductee in the Academy of Teaching Excellence….” Now the ATE is a Virginia Tech organization, and instructors can be included. As my eyes wandered over that sentence however, I wondered why the discipline hasn’t created some national or international academy that recognizes excellence on the part of adjuncts and other non-tenure track faculty.

Since adjunct positions frequently require instructors to teach at multiple institutions simultaneously and/or to hop from one institution to another, as the job market requires, those in the adjunct category may not be able to build the recognition at one institution to be recognized by its academy. Why not create something as a field that allows us to recognize the body of work across institutions and raise the profile of some of the hardest-working teachers out there?


[Photo credit: Filigree — Nicolás Paris (1977), by Pedro Ribeiro Simões on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license]