First-Year Distinguished Teaching Awards


The First Year Distinguished Teaching Awards are designed to encourage, reward, and publicly acknowledge sustained excellence in teaching by instructors participating in UNM's Academic Communities program. The award recognizes excellence in teaching practices that reflect the highest standards in pedagogy, a record of outstanding teaching effectiveness within and outside the classroom, the ability to inspire, promote, and sustain the intellectual development of first-year students, course program and development, fostering of critical thinking and independent inquiry of students.


Two cash awards in the amount of $1,000 will be presented to the winning applicants as part of the Center of Excellence's Annual Teaching Awards. 


Faculty and Teaching Assistants participating in the 2019-2020 Academic Communities Program.


Teaching excellence in first-year programs is multi-faceted and involves a wide range of behaviors, including, but not limited to:

  1. Availability to students
  2. Taking personal interest in students
  3. Using creative or innovative instructional techniques
  4. Receptiveness to students viewpoints and ideas
  5. Relates field of knowledge to other disciplines
  6. Presents subject matter in a way that stimulates students
  7. Challenges students' thinking and assumptions
  8. Helps student grow in intellectual stature and skills
  9. Provides a positive role model to students regarding the value of a university education
  10. Inspires students to work hard
  11. Emphasizes the value and standards in academic and non-academic life
  12. Finds ways to help students achieve and enhance self-esteem
  13. Encourages students to be critical in their learning
  14. Shows respect for all persons
  15. Guides students in navigating the university in their first year.

Nomination Process:

Self-nominations must be submitted to the First-Year Selection Committee via Formstack and include the following:

  1. A current CV or Resume.
  2. Up to a 3 page summary statement by the nominee highlighting his/her excellence in teaching first-year students in relation to the award criteria. 
  3. Three documented exemplars of outstanding teaching (e.g., syllabi, activities, assessments, peer reviews, and teaching evaluations).
  4. Two letters in support of the nomination, which can be provided by students, staff, faculty, or departmental leadership. 

Self-nominations are to be submitted between February 29th and April 15th, 2020. Awardees will be notified via email no later than April 31st. Additionally, awardees will be announced at the Annual Institute for Academic Communities and will be invited to participate in the Center of Excellence's Annual Teaching Awards in May.

Evaluation & Award Decision Process

The First-Year Selection Committee will review all completed applications for originality, creativity, productivity, and for evidence of outstanding teaching and mentoring. Self-nominations will be evaluated by this committee which includes Academic Communities staff and members of the campus community with high-involvement in first-year programming — including, but not limited to,  department liaisons for the Academic Communities Program, directors of advising centers, and directors of success programs across campus. 

Four areas will be evaluated in strength by First-Year Selection Committee members as they score every complete self-nomination against the eligibility and criteria previously outlined:

  1. Summary Statement
  2. Exemplars of Outstanding Teaching
  3. Letters of Support
  4.  Overall Impression

The First-Year Selection Committee will be accepting self-nominations from February 29th to April 15th, 2020.