Faculty Excellence Award - a mistake?
By Dr. Bob Baugher - Guest Commentary
As a full-time faculty member at Highline for nearly 30 years I first became aware of the "Puget Sound Energy Faculty Excellence" award sometime in the early 1990s.
In 1999, I wrote a letter to then Dean Bob Eely expressing my concern about the entire process by which one full-time faculty member receives the yearly award.
Since then, my dissatisfaction with this award has grown. To be blunt: I believe it is a mistake for any college to select one faculty member for a yearly award.
In deciding to publicly state my opinion I do not wish to detract at all from the previous recipients (nor from the upcoming one). I know most all of them and agree they are excellent instructors and met or exceeded the criteria for the award. That said, here are my concerns:
1. With more than 100 full-time faculty, it is clear that more than three-fourths of them will never receive the award no matter how much they would have deserved it.
2. There is no proof that those who do receive the award become better teachers, increase their contribution to the community, serve on more committees, or go even more out of their way to help our students.
3. There is no proof that those who do not receive the award "try harder" the following year in hopes of landing it.
4. I think of the large group of our colleagues who get up each day and do the very things that clearly qualify them for the award only to see year after year they were passed over.
I'm sure some instructors will say that it doesn't bother them and that they are happy for the recipients.
However, I can't help but wonder what it does to the morale of the college when only a fraction of their faculty are recognized at a public event with praise and money.
As you read this, you may wonder of my own history. Is he a recipient?
If so, why is he complaining about an award he already has? Has he never gotten the award?
If not, is he bitter that he's been passed over all these years? You can see that either category has the potential to put anyone complaining about this process in a catch-22.
What I would like to see is a way to eliminate this one-person process and find a way to recognize and honor several instructors each year.
We have an incredible wealth of talent on this campus. Our students are fortunate to sit in classes with instructors of such high caliber. Here are a couple ideas:
1. Rather than the selection committee meeting each year to select one candidate, they could select nine candidates to be honored, one per month during the next academic year—perhaps, one full-time and one adjunct or one-year instructor.
2. Someone could create a discussion forum on Canvas for campus input on this issue.
I'm sure such discussions could lead to many creative ways we can acknowledge the amazing people on this campus.
The way it's been done in the past is not in the spirit that has made Highline a great college.
Dr. Bob Baugher is a psychology instructor at Highline.