The other day I went to the homepage for the well-known and highly-regarded CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year Award to see if there had been any updates regarding this year’s winners yet. Rice has some nominees in the mix, and I was a little curious. I didn’t find any information regarding victors, but I did find an ominous statement greeting me when the website loaded:
The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program will go on hiatus, beginning in January 2016, as part of a year-long strategic planning process that the Council for Advancement and Support of Education launched in July 2015. Therefore, there will not be a call for nominations in January.
The full statement explaining the hiatus outlines the decision-making process in more detail.
Say what you will about the politics of awards and the ways in which the processes for all kinds of awards can sometimes seem arbitrary, but the CASE/Carnegie program has been extremely important for higher education. To often the narratives about our profession, and the accolades given within it, are dominated by research. The U.S. Professor of the Year program has always served to shine a bright, and highly respected, light onto teaching. By separating candidates into four categories (by type of institution), the program leveled the playing field a bit as well in a way that underscores the kinds of phenomenal teaching that happen across the board in our institutions of higher ed.
All this is to say that I hope this is really a hiatus, and not a discontinuing, of the program. Higher ed. cannot afford to lose it.