University Exemplary Department or Program Awards honor excellence in academic engagement, student well-being
Academic departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering are being recognized by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, with the 2021 University Exemplary Department or Program Award (UEDPA).
The Department of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering in the College of Engineering earned the award for excellence in teaching and learning effectiveness in developing and sustaining effective approaches to teaching, academic engagement, and student well-being at the graduate or undergraduate levels.
The 2021 UEDPA honorees will be officially recognized at a reception during the spring semester. The university expects to open the event to the campus community, but registration may be required to attend. Further details will be provided at a later date.
The Department of Biochemistry has nearly 500 undergraduate majors earning degrees in two different colleges. Students are supported by over 130 department members, including 25 faculty, 15 research or professional faculty, 21 staff members, 41 graduate students, and many undergraduate researchers. The department has distinguished itself through initiatives to transforming student advising, innovating curriculum, refining experiential learning and meeting student challenges and expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have also developed and sustained academic community engagement activities for student well-being by building inclusive excellence and highlighting achievements and opportunities through enhanced departmental communications.
Academic community engagement and student well-being are tenets of the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, both of which have been long codified in their core values and departmental mission. They engage students with the belief that they will be better engineers and, more importantly, better members of society when they have a strong sense of belonging and a shared sense of purpose that begins with the relationships and bonds formed from academic community engagement. The department has excelled in its overall approach to teaching and learning, which is centered upon the careful cultivation of meaningful and long-lasting relationships between the students and the faculty. Faculty strive to be more than just arbiters of course content, recognizing that the most fruitful exchanges occur outside of lecture sessions.
Presented annually since 1994, the University Exemplary Department or Program Award was developed as a part of Virginia Tech's Faculty Rewards Project, which sought to clarify the expectations of faculty and define appropriate rewards for their accomplishments. The annual awards program is presented by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost through the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
Nominations were submitted based on this year’s theme of "developing and sustaining academic community engagement activities for student well-being and a sense of belonging.” To be eligible for the University Exemplary Department or Program Award, the nominated department or program must have teaching and learning as a primary purpose and identify as a “department” (i.e., academic department or school) or “program” (i.e., an academic program).
The award selection committee has selected “creating and sustaining support for early career and/or adjunct faculty members to develop as effective teachers and/or to contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning” as the theme for the 2022 program.
For more information on the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) or the University Department or Program Awards, visit the CETL website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.