The President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence represents the highest level of achievement in teaching given at the University of Iowa. The award, which is administered by the UI Council on Teaching, was created in 2004 as a university-wide recognition for faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained, high level of teaching excellence.
Two College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members have received the honor for 2017-18: Megan Knight, Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Rhetoric, and Shaun Vecera, Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
Helena Dettmer, CLAS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum Development, said the awards are richly deserved.
"I am delighted by this recognition for Professors Knight and Vecera. They are gifted educators who understand that outstanding teaching extends beyond the classroom, and includes being role models and mentors as students develop both personally and academically," Dettmer said. "On behalf of the entire faculty, I congratulate Megan and Shaun on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment to our students' success."
Megan Knight is an associate professor of instruction in the Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa. In addition to teaching General Education Rhetoric, she offers graduate courses in pedagogy and scholarly writing, and has frequently served as a leader in the department’s Professional Development Program. She is also assistant director of the Honors Writing Fellows Program, an undergraduate peer-tutoring initiative. In 2016, she helped to develop and launch the Graduate Teaching Fellows Program at the Center for Teaching. Knight has developed and regularly teaches two graduate pedagogy courses: Topics in Teaching & Professional Development, a teaching seminar for those interested in writing-intensive instruction; and College Teaching for TAs, a cross-disciplinary teaching practicum. She team-teaches Writing in the Disciplines, and she has taught a full range of undergraduate courses, including general education Rhetoric classes, Honors seminars, and upper-level nonfiction writing workshops. She regularly serves as a teaching mentor to graduate instructors and adjunct faculty in Rhetoric. and has been invited to speak about pedagogical topics at numerous professional conferences. Knight is actively involved with teaching-related initiatives on the UI campus, including the Center for the Integrations of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL).
Shaun Vecera earned the PhD in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995, and joined the UI faculty in 1998. In 2016, he was appointed as the Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair, which recognizes outstanding undergraduate teaching. With a research interest in visual attention and perception, he is the author of more than 75 journal articles, book chapters, and other publications, and is a frequent presenter and guest lecturer at conferences and universities. A recipient in 2005 of the Collegiate Teaching Award, he has served as his department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, overseeing its undergraduate program, and on the CLAS Undergraduate Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee, which steers undergraduate education at the collegiate level. He also was selected to serve as a 2017–18 Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Program fellow. In addition to mentoring students in his laboratory, Vecera teaches classes of all sizes, from large lecture classes—he has taught more than 11,000 students to date in the introductory Elementary Psychology course—to a popular first-year seminar course that he developed called “How Psychology Can Save the Planet.”