By Emily Delgado and Charlotte Brookins
Fred Boehmke, professor of political science and director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, and Cynthia Farthing, associate professor of instruction in mathematics, overlap quite a bit in their lives.
They’re both faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, they both received Collegiate Teaching Awards (CTAs) for the 2022-23 school year—and they’re married. The Collegiate Teaching Awards are given annually to faculty members who show exemplary performance in their work.
Both Farthing and Boehmke expressed their appreciation for the University of Iowa and the college in preparing them for such awards.
“I ended up with my name on the award, but it's because of all the other people that have helped me,” says Boehmke.
Meeting and working at the university
Boehmke and Farthing met at the University of Iowa about 20 years ago when Farthing was finishing up her studies.
“After graduation, we were long-distance for a while when he was in Michigan for a few years and I was in Omaha,” remembers Farthing.
The pair ultimately returned to the university in 2011, where they’ve lived and worked together for the past 12 years. Although they work in different CLAS departments, they are still able to find overlap in their responsibilities and roles on campus, as well as the positive impact they have both made, leading to their awards.
Boehmke said during the weeks leading up to the ceremony, both him and Farthing were nervous in the case one won the award instead of the other. However, Boehmke felt his wife was more deserving of the award than he was, but of course he was grateful for the nomination and recognition.
“It's pretty obvious that she's much more deserving,” Boehmke says. “She teaches hundreds of students every year, and given how much work she puts into teaching, I think it's really important and sends a really good message that her effort was acknowledged.”
Reflecting on their work and achievements together, Farthing says she is incredibly proud of her husband and grateful for the support they are able to provide for each other.
“It’s just knowing that he understands what I go through during the course of a semester,” she says. “I have his support and he knows he has mine.”
Motivation to continue improving
Farthing cites this award as inspiration to continue with her current teaching practices, saying, “It’s so nice to be recognized, and it provides me with further motivation to keep trying to make my courses better for my students.”
Boehmke said when he first arrived at the university, he saw himself more as a researcher than as a teacher. However, in recent years, he has found more time to dedicate to teaching.
“As my career has progressed, I’ve put extra time into teaching and getting up to date on the current techniques and technologies and applying them,” says Boehmke. “Being recognized for that, I think, is especially meaningful, given that it's just one of the parts of what I do. I appreciate it.”
Boehmke says he often shares his research discoveries or anything interesting he runs into with his students as a way to get them excited about the curriculum.
Although Boehmke and Farthing work in two different CLAS departments, they sometimes experience overlap in the content they are teaching.
“We can talk about our research a tiny bit. We can talk a little bit about approaches to teaching like group work or discussions and then sometimes it's also on the assessment side,” Boehmke adds. “There's more overlap than one would expect for a political scientist and mathematician.”
Boehmke and Farthing’s accomplishments not only serve as a great example of CLAS faculty, but also showcase the many opportunities for collaboration between departments.
For a full list of this and past year’s CTA awardees, explore the CLAS faculty honors website.