Nomination process changes for Lindback Award

Melissa Weigel

Each year Villanova University honors one teacher with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, a prize that carries with it not only academic prestige, but also a monetary reward.

In order to win, teachers must be nominated by students, and the candidates with the most votes are then evaluated by a team of faculty, many of whom are past winners, and one student representative.

The University changed its nomination process this year in hopes of getting more students to vote and allow them to have more input in choosing the finalists.

Last year, members of the Student Government Association stood outside different dining halls during lunch hours with PDAs, asking students to vote for a teacher on the devices.

Unfortunately, the turnout was not as great as they hoped.

The award committee decided this year to hold online nominations. A link will be sent to students via e-mail encouraging them to vote; the survey will be available through Novasis.

“We’re keeping with the guidelines from 2002 that urged student voting to commence in the fall semester,” Dr. Rick Eckstein, the chair of the committee, said. “For a variety of reasons, this was the first year it was actually possible to do this. 

There’s no inherent advantage in online voting, but it has the potential for a larger response rate if people actually participate,” Eckstein added.

Students can pick three professors from a drop-down menu that has removed all past winners of the award (they are ineligible to receive it again). Once the votes are tallied, the committee picks 15 semi-finalists, who are invited to submit brief statements on teaching. These 15 must represent every college on campus.

Faculty members can then vote on the semi-finalists. In order to choose the final winner, several members of the committee sit in on at least one of each professor’s classes to experience his/her teaching style.

Last year’s winner was Dr. Sally Scholz of the philosophy department and the Center for Peace and Justice. She has been teaching at Villanova for 12 years.

“I was thrilled [when I heard I won the award],” Scholz said. “There are a lot of tremendously good teachers here, so it was an honor to actually win.”

Scholz was nominated several times before winning.

“I love what I do, both teaching and philosophy,” she said. “When you’re passionate, you inspire. When people see philosophy in their lives, it’s exciting for me. I try to have an interactive teaching style, so it’s a collective enterprise.”

According to the actual text of the award, “Persons nominated for the Lindback Award should demonstrate a commitment to the life of the mind and the well-being of students. Their approach to teaching should be intellectually stimulating, challenging and accessible, with efforts extending beyond the classroom.”