Each spring, Newman University students, staff and faculty are given the opportunity to nominate an outstanding staff member and an outstanding faculty member for respective excellence awards.
The Faculty Teaching Excellence Award is presented to a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated an innovative or dynamic approach to courses, course revisions and teaching techniques. The individual who is selected to receive this award provides a commencement ceremony speech for the following year.
The 2020 award was bestowed upon Professor of Biology Sarah Evans, Ph.D.
Evans has been teaching for 21 years, six of which have been spent at Newman University. Evans didn’t know she was nominated until the announcement was made in a campus-wide email that included a video announcement from Interim President Teresa Hall Bartels.
“I was very surprised,” said Evans. “I was watching the video, and about halfway through, I started receiving several texts and messages of congratulations. That tipped me off that something was up.”
Evans received multiple nominations for the award from both students and colleagues. Nominators said:
“She is an excellent teacher. She clearly explains expectations to the students. The focal point of life’s work is teaching students for her.”
“This faculty member’s professionalism and love of the profession are unmatched and are reflected in a selfless approach to teaching. She does everything to help the students succeed and explains clearly so that it is easy to learn.”
“She’s known for helping transform students to transform society.”
“She combines service, intellectual curiosity and education excellence and behaviors that exemplify not only characteristics commensurate with tenured faculty but also with an intrinsically caring person that we can only hope our graduates will emulate.”
“She revises courses every semester in response to student feedback and performance. She’s always trying to tweak and make courses better.”
Evans takes on a heavy courseload and is also involved in the Professional Development Committee through faculty senate, the Scholars Day committee and the Newman Science Outreach Program.
Her love of teaching and service goes beyond the classroom, made obvious by her trips with the Guatemala Study & Serve, Campus Ministry and personal trips for learning and service.
“She epitomizes the individual who never stops learning, who never stops serving, who personifies the ways in which every step we take can transform the world.”
Her students know she is well-deserving of the honor.
Student Sarah Schreiber said, “Dr. Evans shows such genuine interest in her students receiving a wonderful education. I loved attending Dr. Evans’ classes because her passion for science and learning inspires and motivates her students.
Schreiber also enjoyed doing research with Evans.
“She provided insight and knowledge, while also encouraging her students to brainstorm ideas. Throughout this process, she was so supportive and never hesitated to spend extra time working with students to better understand concepts.”
Senior Claudius Ciecko said, “After having worked with Dr. Evans on research for a year and having had her for other classes, there is no doubt that Dr. Evans deserves this award. Her patience has been extremely obvious throughout research and her leadership really shined when things got rough. Her optimism is infectious and without it we would not have pushed through and gotten the results we had! She holds her students to a high standard and I definitely think that I am all the more prepared for medical school after having worked with her all this time.”
Schreiber was pleased to congratulate Evans on the achievement, saying, “I am thankful that I had you as a professor and I am so happy that you have received this award. Your passion for science, your dedication to your students and work, and your kindness are so inspiring.”
This year’s honorary mentions were Assistant Professor of Theology Matthew Umbarger and Instructor and Director of the Music Department Deanne Zogleman.