Four professors, known for innovative teaching and research projects at Colorado State University, today were appointed University Distinguished Teaching Scholars at the Honors Luncheon celebration.
The new Scholars are Ken Barbarick, professor and associate department head of soil and crop sciences; James Boyd, philosophy professor; Ingrid Burke, professor of forest sciences; and Pattie Cowell, professor and chairwoman of the English department.
"The University Distinguished Teaching Scholars represent the ideals of scholarship, teaching and research that form the foundation of excellence in higher education," said Provost Loren Crabtree. "The extraordinary contributions of our Scholars are reflected in the diversity of their expertise, disciplinary interests and backgrounds.
"These professors are never happy with the status quo – their valuable and exciting work in seeking new possibilities and innovations in teaching is a testament to one of the university’s most important missions: to provide the best possible education to students."
Laurie Hayes, vice provost for Undergraduate Studies, noted that the Scholars were chosen in an open process that began with the selection of nominees by departments throughout campus. The Scholars designation is life-long until the recipient leaves the university.
All Scholars receive a permanent, base salary increment of $7,500 and an annual $2,500 operating account from their home colleges for three years to pursue an instructional improvement/innovation project.
Kenneth R. Barbarick, professor and associate department head of soil and crop sciences
Barbarick has been teaching at Colorado State since 1975, and almost every semester for the past decade he’s taken on "Introductory Soil Science." With some 150-200 students from several colleges and numerous majors, one would think a senior faculty member could avoid such a situation, but Barbarick likes big classes.
"My teaching style has evolved over the years, but I guess I like the diversity," he said. "I’ve got students in botany, say, very attuned to science, and students in landscape architecture who approach all this from an artistic point of view. It’s a challenge to try to find what suits all their needs."
Barbarick said he tries to put himself on the other side of the desk, seeking to understand what his class sees, hears and perceives and "tweaking things a bit" to keep the material fresh.
Barbarick’s research focuses on environmental soil science and soil chemistry – particularly the application of biosolids to agricultural and other lands. He’s written papers on the subject, but it’s instructive that Barbarick’s two books, both in multiple editions, are texts on soil science.
"I think the most rewarding part of my position is working with students, helping them develop ideas, maybe encouraging someone who’s having a hard time with a concept and then seeing that light bulb go on," Barbarick said.
James W. Boyd, philosophy professor
James Boyd, whose field is Asian Studies with a specialty in the philosophy and religion of India, began teaching at Colorado State in 1969.
"Fundamentally, my goal in teaching is to introduce students to cultural worldviews other than their own," Boyd wrote in his statement on teaching. "I seek to internationalize the curriculum, both at CSU and in the public schools."
Boyd received three grants for faculty study tours of South Asia from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program. He co-led the first study abroad program at Colorado State and has twice designed and led student study tours of India.
A member of one of Boyd’s study tour groups described how the trip influenced participants: "It changed their lives. These people returned to start new courses, sponsor trips and to help bring the campus to a recognition of the need for international education…Jim Boyd is one of those rare people who was able to improve CSU by being a teacher of teachers."
Boyd co-founded the University’s Asian Studies Interdisciplinary Program and designed the College of Liberal Art’s Asian Studies option in the International Studies concentration.
His awards include the Pennock Distinguished Service Award in 1988, the Willard O. Eddy Teaching Award in 1995 and the ASCSU Outstanding Teacher Award in 1999. In addition, he has been honored for excellence by the College of Liberal Arts and has received the Phi Sigma Iota Award for the Promotion of International Understanding.
Boyd has published widely on various aspects of Eastern religion, is a leading expert in the emerging field of Ritual Studies and is currently researching Shinto rituals.
Ingrid Burke, professor of forest sciences
Although Ingrid Burke is known as one of the university’s major researchers and as director of the National Science Foundation’s Long-term Ecological Research site for the shortgrass steppe, her accomplishments in teaching are even more noteworthy.
Burke’s interest in innovations in higher education is shown in her development of an Honors section in environmental conservation, which allows her to provide outstanding, state-of-the-art education to students. She was the first professor in the College of Natural Resources to develop an Honors section for the course, and serves as chairwoman of the Faculty Honors Council. She also contributes significantly to undergraduate education and to mentoring a diverse array of graduate students. Undergraduate students have twice nominated her for Colorado State’s Best Teacher award.
In a statement for instructional improvement/innovation, Burke noted that her goal has been to "effectively educate our students about the environment, providing them with the capability to think critically about complex environmental issues of today and the future.
"This is an especially exciting time at CSU to enhance environmental literacy, interdisciplinary education and critical thinking for our students universitywide."
Pattie Cowell, professor and chairwoman of the English department
Pattie Cowell, who came to the university in 1977, has served as chairwoman of the Women’s Studies program, acting assistant dean of the Graduate School and acting associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. She has been chairwoman of the English department since 1991.
Her research and scholarly work has created a more inclusive curriculum for literature courses throughout the country. While noted especially for her recovery work of the early writers in American literature, she also is known for her scholarship in Women’s Studies, multicultural approaches and innovative writing instruction. However, the greatest beneficiaries of her wide-ranging efforts are her students, who uniformly praise her caring and effective teaching methods.
As part of the University Distinguished Teaching Scholars program, Cowell is working with the Office for Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs to coordinate teams of students who will experience real-world literary endeavors in the community. Students will become editors and help publish material or prepare oral histories of writers for reflective essays of their own for publication. The project provides a larger audience and motivation for students to write more and better.
"People find language suits many needs – to document, to discover, to make beauty," Cowell noted in her service-learning proposal. "But often they find few vehicles in which to share their work and a limited audience."
The new Scholars, the first of an eventual total of 12, joined four Scholars appointed last year, including Mike Palmquist, Department of English; Bob Richburg, School of Education; Stephen Thompson, Department of Chemistry; and Frank Vattano, Department of Psychology.