How Great Teachers Inspire

April 9, 2015
Gold medallion with embossed tree and words "Academy of Distinguished Teachers" against a maroon background.

Every year the University of Minnesota pays tribute to its top teachers. Two awards are given:

• The Morse-Alumni Award for Undergraduate Education

• The Graduate-Professional Teaching Award Awardees are chosen based on reports from colleagues and, especially, students and former students. What's the secret of great teachers? All of them are passionate about their subject matter. All go the extra mile to give their students the best chance of catching fire as they learn about everything from the genius of Shakespeare to the making and breaking of chemical bonds—even for students who are only taking a course because it's required.

Some make things easier by leading the charge to simplify rules. Others make things harder by giving out challenging assignments that ultimately smooth the way for students when they must navigate the waters of professional life. Still others are Pied Pipers whose classroom charisma attracts students like bees to nectar. Whatever they've got, every single one is an inspiration.

Award recipients in both categories are inducted into the U's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. The ceremony for the 2014-15 honorees was held April 8.