The Three Finalists for This Year’s $250,000 Cherry Award for Great Teaching Are All Women

cherry-award-thumbBaylor University in Waco, Texas, has announced three finalists for the 2016 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. Each finalist receives a $15,000 cash prize as well as a $10,000 award for their academic department at their college or university to foster the development of teaching skills. Each finalist will present a series of lectures on the Baylor campus this fall. The winner, selected from among the three finalists, will receive a $250,000 prize and a one-semester visiting professorship at Baylor. The winner will also receive an additional $25,000 for his or her academic department.

Robert Foster Cherry earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 1929. He enrolled in the Baylor Law School in 1932 and passed the Texas State Bar Examination the following year. With a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, he made an exceptional estate bequest to establish the Cherry Award program to recognize excellent teachers and bring them in contact with Baylor University students. The first Robert Foster Cherry Award was made in 1991.

This year, all three Cherry Award finalists are women.

balserTeresa C. Balser is a professor of soil and water science at the University of Florida. She joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 2011 after teaching for a decade at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Balser is a graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she majored in earth sciences and biology. She holds a Ph.D. in soil microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley.

heblMichelle Rae Hebl is a professor of psychology and management at Rice University in Houston, Texas. She has been on the faculty at Rice since 1998. Professor Hebl is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she majored in psychology. She holds a master’s degree from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in psychology from Dartmouth College.

spaarLisa Russ Spaar is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Virginia. She has been on the faculty at the university fo 20 years and has also taught at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the University of North Texas. Professor Spaar is summa cum laude graduate of the University of Virginia, where she also earned a master of fine arts degree in creative writing.

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