Utah State University anthropology professor David F. Lancy was named Utah's Professor of the Year in 2001 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Lancy was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to receive the honor.
Lancy, who is director of the honors program at USU, was selected to receive the honor from among eight Utah nominees. He joins four other Utah State professors who have received the award in recent years.
The foundation selected Lancy for what it called "extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching." One of his nomination letters said he is an outstanding teacher for the same reasons he is an outstanding researcher: He has immense curiosity about everything and "he brings the same intensity and rigor of inquiry to his classes that he brings to his research." Lancy teaches a number of anthropology classes, including ethnography of childhood, systems origins and the origins of writing and literacy, and he teaches civilization/humanities, one of the general education core classes at Utah State.
He offers a distance education version of the class that is 100 percent online. He team-teaches another section of the class at a local high school. And he offers another version in which he replicates course text materials with pictures, films and photographs so students with different learning styles or needs might be aided by the format.
Lancy said he continually re-invents his teaching model to take advantage of new technology, new techniques and new material. "Teaching is an intellectual challenge. It is a complex process that can be improved and improved and improved."
"I always try to challenge complacency in my students; I do not want them to think 'standard' is OK, so I certainly don't want to ever be complacent or feel 'standard' myself," he said.
One colleague wrote: "He never stops thinking, creating, critiquing and improving. He has spent his entire career 'thinking outside the box,' both in his scholarship and his teaching." He brings these talents into the classroom on a daily basis, constantly incorporating new technologies and pedagogical insights into his teaching."