Teaching Academy Awards

Teaching Academy awards are open to any NMSU educator (full or part-time faculty, graduate students or staff) on any campus.

The Truly Innovative Teaching Award

The Truly Innovative Teaching Award was established in 2014 in memory of Harry and Jenny Truly by Elise “Pookie” and Michael Sautter. The award is presented to an NMSU educator (full-time, part-time, or graduate student) from any NMSU campus who has made an innovation in teaching that has positively impacted student attitude, motivation, or learning. Your innovation can be unique to you or can be an implementation of someone else’s innovation. This innovation must also have some connection to the Teaching Academy, i.e., you learned about it here or you gave a workshop about it here.

The winner is chosen by the Teaching Academy Advisory Board. The award comes with $1,000 and a glass art trophy.

Application Instructions


Alla Kammerdiner wins this award for her work to make student learning a richer, more joyful experience. Since Spring 2014, she has been teaching Engineering Economy using the innovative paradigm of game-based learning. Her course is set up as a semester-long game in which students learn engineering economy by investing and managing their virtual money in teams. Her students say it is “an exciting challenge to analyze data and try to out-maneuver the other teams.”

Previous Truly Innovative Award winners:

  • Gerri McCulloh, 2017 •  Application Packet
  • Alla Kammerdiner, 2016 • Application packet
  • Kefaya Diab, 2015 • Application packet

    Kefaya Diab is a PhD student of rhetoric and professional communication in the English Department. She wins this award for her work with students to make short movies to express their identities, to promote ideas and to call for social change. Kefaya has used these movies in composition classes, as well as in ESL and Arabic classes. One of her students refers to her class as “the most joyful and important class any one of us will take in our college years… truly electrifying…”

  • Krista MacDonald, 2014 • Application packet

    Krista MacDonald is an assistant professor of communication in the English and Communication Department at Doña Ana Community College, where she also serves as DACC’s online education coordinator. In 2005, she earned her M.A. in communication from the University of New Mexico and in 2013, she earned, from New Mexico State, her online teaching and learning graduate certificate. Krista has taught a variety of introduction to communication courses. In her online classes Krista prioritizes quality course design, the creation of online learning communities, and curricula that supports diverse student populations. Krista’s application for the Truly Award stressed the application of the Quality Matters Rubric guidelines to her online teaching.

  • Kulbhushan Grover, 2013 • Application packet
    Kenneth J. Martin, 2012Application packet

    Kenneth J. Martin is a Regents Professor of Finance in the College of Business at New Mexico State University. He has been at NMSU since 1995 having previously been on the faculty at the University of Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in finance from Purdue University and both his bachelor’s degree in accounting and MBA degree from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Martin’s research interests include corporate governance and executive compensation. He teaches courses in equity asset valuation, corporate financial management, and financial information technology. He is also the current director of NMSU’s Wetherbe Fund, a student-managed investment fund. He is a frequent participant in Teaching Academy workshops.

    Kenneth was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for his work in “flipping the classroom” by having students acquire content knowledge outside of class and work at higher levels in class—where Dr. Martin can help them.

  • Mike Demers, 2011Application packet

    Mike Demers OTLC (2007, NMSU), Ph.D. (1985, University of Kansas) is associate professor of geography at NMSU. A winner of the 2010 James R. Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography, he is the author of four books including Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems (4th Ed) (Russian and simple Chinese Translations); GIS Modeling in Raster (Arabic translation), and GIS for Dummies. He is the co-editor of the UCGIS Body of Knowledge, considered the gold standard for GIS curriculum. DeMers’ current NSF funded research deals with the use of persistent virtual environments for online course delivery and research collaboration. Such environments, like Second Life, are 3-D worlds where people interact as digital versions of themselves (avatars). Many universities, including NMSU, have been experimenting with such immersive environments for online education. Research shows they promote collaborative learning communities, provide a sense of “being there”—called social presence—and allow faculty to create shared intellectual landscapes, which essentially are common visual and tactile experiences that help students gain a deeper understanding of course content.

    Mike was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for his innovative implementation of learning in a virtual environment.

  • Nancy Chanover, 2010Application packet

    Nancy Chanover received her Ph.D. in astronomy from New Mexico State University in 1997. She then held a National Research Council Resident Research Associateship at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center before returning to NMSU, where she is now an assistant professor. For her research she studies planetary atmospheres, using visible and near-infrared observations to characterize their vertical structure and chemical properties. She is also involved in the development of astrobiology instrumentation. In her undergraduate classes Nancy emphasizes team-based learning while trying to connect the field of astronomy to the everyday lives of her students.

    Nancy was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for her innovative implementation of Team-Based Learning.

  • David Smith, 2009Application packet

    David E. Smith was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from Colorado College in 1984. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from U.C. Berkeley and has been a part of NMSU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty since 1994. He has extensive experience teaching large general chemistry courses as well as smaller courses for chemistry and biochemistry majors and an occasional distance education offering. Teaching freshmen is his favorite teaching assignment. He finds it rewarding to give first-year students a good start to their NMSU experience while also attracting a few new majors.

    David was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for his innovative use of remote response devices, a.k.a. “clickers,” in his general chemistry classes.

  • Laura Madson, 2008Application packet

    Laura Madson is the Teaching Academy Innovation Award winner for 2006–2007. Laura is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department. She earned her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1996 and joined the NMSU faculty thereafter. She has taught a range of undergraduate classes including Introduction to Psychology, Psychology of Women, Sexual Behavior, Psychological Measurement, Experimental Methods, and The Psychology of Sexual Orientation. She also developed a graduate course in the Teaching of Psychology and serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in Psychology. More importantly, she still thinks teaching is the best job in the world!

    Laura was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for her innovative implementation of Team-Based Learning in large classes.

Outstanding Workshop Award

This award is earned by the presenter of the Teaching Academy workshop that garners the highest evaluations from 10 or more participants. This award cannot be earned for panel presentations (more than two presenters), or more than once by the same presenter for the same or similar workshop. (To volunteer to give a workshop contact Michelle Jackson.)

The award comes with a glass art trophy.

Satya Rao is a professor, undergraduate program coordinator, and graduate public health certificate program coordinator in the Department of Public Health Sciences. In addition to teaching, she is involved in research and service initiatives focused on violence, mental health, and suicide in communities of color, rural, and border communities. Her work also explores the relationship between childhood trauma and suicide. She co-founded the Southern New Mexico Suicide Prevention and Survivors’ Support Coalition in 2011 to raise awareness, educate, and support families dealing with suicide. She has served as chair of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition and as Co-President of New Mexico Public Health Association.

Liz England–Kennedy earned her MPH degree at NMSU and is a lecturer in the Kinesiology Department at California Polytechnic State University. Besides teaching, she performs research and service on trauma recovery, community mental health, and suicide prevention. Her work addresses the needs of veterans and their families, people currently or recently homeless, and individuals with hidden disabilities. She is a past member of the Southern New Mexico Suicide Prevention and Survivors’ Support Coalition. In this capacity, she co-developed an inter-university faculty workshop on suicide prevention with Satya Rao.

Previous Outstanding Workshop Award winners:

  • Michèle Shuster, 2017
  • Satya Rao and Liz England Kennedy, 2016
  • Laura Madson, 2015
  • Lizbeth Ellis, 2014

    Lizbeth Ellis received the Outstanding Workshop Award because her workshop, Daily Five-Minute Quizzes: A Key to Student Engagement and Accountability, received the highest evaluations from participants of any of the workshops given by NMSU faculty or staff at the Teaching Academy this year. Professor and Attorney Lizbeth Ellis joined the faculty at NMSU 25 years ago, after a number of years in private practice of law. In 2004 she became head of the Department of Finance, and she presently serves as interim associate dean in the College of Business. Ellis teaches several business law courses, but her bread and butter has been the Legal Environment of Business course required of all undergraduate business students. This course served as the proving ground for the teaching strategy that was the subject of her outstanding workshop.

  • Jonathan Schwartz, 2013

    Jonathan Schwartz received the Outstanding Workshop Award because his workshop, Working with Challenging People, received the highest evaluations from participants of any of the workshops given by NMSU faculty or staff at the Teaching Academy this year. Dr. Schwartz is a professor and department head in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. He is a licensed psychologist with a focus on prevention of violence and conflict. This focus helped inform his outstanding workshop on working with challenging people. Dr. Schwartz has published in the area of men and masculinity, prevention, and intimate violence. He has written multiple articles and book chapters on the ethics of prevention. Dr. Schwartz received the 2011 Fritz and Linn Kuder Early Career Scientist/Practitioner Award. In 2003, he was named a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division of Counseling Psychology. He is supported by his wife, Marie, daughter Mazelle, and son Jayvin.

  • Sharna Horn, 2012

    Sharna Horn has served as the coordinator for the Sexual and Gender Diversity Resource Center since the fall of 2009. Prior to coming to NMSU, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado State University and her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Western Michigan University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in counseling psychology at New Mexico State University. She is writing a co-authored book chapter focusing on psychological practice with lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women. Last academic year, she created the Safe Zone Training: Helping NMSU to Create a Safe Space for LGBTQ Students, Faculty and Staff. This training was adapted for the fall freshman ENLACE EXITO! course. Sharna wins the Outstanding Workshop Award because she received the highest ratings by participants for any workshop given by an NMSU educator in 2011–2012. She is the first-ever graduate student to win the Outstanding Workshop award.

  • David Smith, 2011

    David Smith received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989 and joined the NMSU faculty in 1994. Teaching primarily in his department’s general chemistry program, he is actively involved in developing and evaluating formative assessment techniques especially as related to use of remote response devices (“clickers”) in large classes. He was the 2009 recipient of the Teaching Academy Innovation Award and now regularly speaks on the topic of using clickers for formative assessment. He and his wife Janine have been married 22 years and have three children, the oldest of whom is now an NMSU student.

    David presented Clickers in the Classroom: Involving Students and Informing Teachers, which received the highest ratings from workshop participants for the 2010–2011 academic year.

  • David Pengelley, 2010

    David Pengelley’s mathematical research is in algebraic topology and history of mathematics, and he develops the pedagogies of teaching with student projects and with primary historical sources. David’s recent Teaching Academy workshop was titled We lecture because they don’t read, and they don’t read because we lecture: How to beat the lecture/textbook trap! about how he uses advance student reading, writing, and preparation to create higher level learning in the classroom, rather than merely passive first contact with new material. David was the 2009 recipient of NMSU’s Westhafer Award for Teaching, and the Mathematical Association of America’s national Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

  • Mary Prentice, 2009

    Mary Prentice is assistant professor in the Educational Management and Development department. She began teaching 13 years ago as a psychology instructor at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM); she was also the faculty coordinator of the college’s service learning program. Before coming to NMSU, Mary was the Dean of Social Sciences and Public Service at Illinois Valley Community College. Since coming to NMSU, she has also served as the grant evaluator for the American Association of Community Colleges’ Community Colleges Broadening Horizons through Service Learning project, which focuses on service learning’s connection to civic engagement, learning outcomes, and retention.

    She presented the Teaching Academy workshop, Students as Partners in Learning: Co-creating the Class Syllabus, which received the highest participant evaluation of any workshop presented by an NMSU faculty or staff member.

  • Michèle Shuster, 2008

    Michèle Shuster was an early adopter of clickers, and has collaborated with colleagues in the Biology Department to assess the impact of clickers on student learning. Her workshop at the Teaching Academy included an overview of the practical issues and positive learning outcomes associated with clicker use. She is now fondly known as the “Clicker Queen” at the Teaching Academy. She has many interests centered around teaching and learning, including facilitating two sections of Team Mentoring for Graduate Students Who Teach Courses and Labs each fall at the Teaching Academy, and on-going SoTL projects in her microbiology and cancer courses.

    She presented the Teaching Academy workshop, Engaging Students with Clicker Technology, that received the highest rating by participants.

  • James Caufield and Mardi Mahaffy, 2007

Outstanding Mentor Award

The Outstanding Mentor Award honors a cross-disciplinary mentor who embodies both the letter and spirit of mentoring. This cross-disciplinary mentor must have participated in the Teaching Academy’s mentoring programs: One-On-One, Team, and/or Advancing Leaders. The person or persons nominating the candidate must be either a current or prior mentee of the candidate who has been involved in a mentoring relationship with the candidate in the past. The winner is chosen by the Teaching Academy Advisory Board. The award comes with a glass art trophy.

Application Instructions


Previous Outstanding Mentor Award Winners:

  • Mónica Torres 2017
  • Mary O’Connell 2016
  • Martha Mitchell 2015
  • Miriam Chaiken 2014


Miriam Chaiken 2014

Martha Mitchell 2015

Mary O’Connell 2016

Mónica Torres 2017

Miriam Chaiken 2014

Martha Mitchell 2015

Mary O’Connell 2016

Mónica Torres 2017

James Caufield is serving in his second year as library instruction coordinator at the NMSU Library, where one of his interests is helping faculty design assignments that include library research. Before coming to NMSU he taught philosophy at various universities and colleges in New York, and then served as reference librarian at St. Cloud State University (Minnesota). He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy, and also a master’s degree in library and information science.

Mardi Mahaffy holds a master’s of library science degree from Indiana University, and serves as the humanities librarian at New Mexico State University. She currently teaches a course in information literacy. Her research interests include the formation of collaborative partnerships between libraries and other university faculty or services. Prior to coming to NMSU, Ms. Mahaffy served as the government documents librarian at East Central University in Ada, OK.

Together, they presented the Teaching Academy workshop, Designing and Managing Student Research Assignments, that received the highest rating by participants.