The Provost’s Office sponsors three university-wide teaching awards.
Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching
Provost’s Award for Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring
Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty
Any member of the University community, past or present, may nominate a teacher for these awards.
Nominations are due no later than 5pm on the first Friday in December.
Dossiers are due no later than 5pm on the first Friday in February.
Awarded to up to eight members of the Standing Faculty each year: up to four in the non-health schools (Annenberg, Design, Engineering and Applied Science, GSE, Law, SAS, Social Policy & Practice, Wharton) and up to four in the health schools (Dental Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine). The health schools and the non-health schools have separate procedures and deadlines for nomination and selection.
Awarded to two members of the Standing or Associated Faculty for distinguished teaching and mentoring of PhD students. Members of the Standing and Associated Faculty in any school offering the PhD are eligible for the award.
Awarded to two members of the Associated Faculty or academic support staff who teach at Penn, one in the non-health schools (Annenberg, Design, Engineering and Applied Science, GSE, Law, SAS, Social Policy & Practice, Wharton) and one in the health schools (Dental Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine). The health schools and the non-health schools have separate procedures and deadlines for nomination and selection.
There is a reception each spring honoring all the teaching award winners.
1. The Lindback and Provost’s Awards are given in recognition of distinguished teaching. “Distinguished teaching” is teaching that is intellectually demanding, unusually coherent, and permanent in its effect. The distinguished teacher has the capability of changing the way in which students view the subject they are studying. The distinguished teacher provides the basis for students to look with critical and informed perception at the fundamentals of a discipline, and s/he relates that discipline to other disciplines and to the worldview of the student. The distinguished teacher is accessible to students and open to new ideas, but also expresses his/her own views with articulate and informed understanding of an academic field. The distinguished teacher is fair, free from prejudice, and single-minded in the pursuit of truth.
2. Skillful direction of dissertation students, effective supervision of student researchers, ability to organize a large course of many sections, skill in leading seminars, special talent with large classes, ability to handle discussions or structure lectures—these are all attributes of distinguished teaching, although it is unlikely that anyone will excel in all of them. At the same time, distinguished teaching means different things in different fields. While the distinguished teacher should be versatile, as much at home in large groups as in small, in beginning classes as in advanced, s/he may have skills of special importance in his/her area of specialization. The primary criteria for the Provost’s Award for Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring are a record of successful doctoral student mentoring and placement, success in collaborating on doctoral committees and graduate groups, and distinguished research.
3. Since distinguished teaching is recognized and recorded in different ways, evaluation must also take several forms. It is not enough to look solely at letters of recommendation from students or to consider “objective” evaluations of particular classes in tabulated form. A faculty member’s influence extends beyond the classroom and individual classes. Nor is it enough to look only at a candidate’s most recent semester or opinions expressed immediately after a course is over; the influence of the best teachers lasts, while that of others may be great at first but lessen over time. It is not enough merely to gauge student adulation, for its basis is superficial; but neither should such feelings be discounted as unworthy of investigation. Rather, all of these factors and more should enter into the identification and assessment of distinguished teaching.
4. The Lindback and Provost’s Awards have a symbolic importance that transcends the recognition of individual merit. They should be used to advance effective teaching by serving as reminders to the University community of the expectations for the quality of its mission.
5. Distinguished teaching occurs in all parts of the University. Therefore, faculty members from all schools are eligible for consideration. An excellent teacher who does not receive an award in a given year may be re-nominated in some future year and receive the award then.
6. The Lindback and Provost’s Awards may recognize faculty members with many years of distinguished service or many years of service remaining. The teaching activities for which the awards are granted must be components of the degree programs of the University of Pennsylvania.
7. A faculty member may not be considered for a teaching award in a terminal year or the year in which s/he is being considered for tenure.