Vicky Minderhout, SU professor of chemistry, was named the 2011 Washington State “Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) on Nov. 17, 2011. Minderhout is the first Seattle University professor to earn this distinction. At a Nov. 21 campus celebration for Minderhout, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., called her achievement "an historic occasion at Seattle University” and lauded the chemistry professor for “the courage it must have taken to move to that kind of a coaching way (of teaching). It’s an extraordinary change she made. This is just as good as it gets at Seattle University." Minderhout, who joined the SU faculty in 1980, implemented in 1997 a new style of teaching that moved away from the traditional lecture-mode to an approach known as “guided inquiry learning.” Instead of standing at a lectern in the front of the class talking to her students, Minderhout has them learn through small groups and engaging in a vigorous exchange of ideas. With her guidance, students become more invested in the subject matter and develop problem-solving skills that serve them well in their intellectual pursuits and later as professionals. She is the first Seattle University faculty member to receive this honor and one of only 27 faculty chosen nationwide. Recognizing that other teachers might benefit from this innovative learning style, she has published and presented extensively on the subject. With Associate Professor of Chemistry Jenny Loertscher, Minderhout authored an active learning biochemistry curriculum that is currently being used at 50 other colleges and universities.
“Even as she helps reshape the pedagogy on other campuses throughout the country, Vicky is most generous with her time and expertise here at Seattle University,” says President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., in congratulating Minderhout on this prestigious achievement. “She is as much a mentor to her colleagues as to her students. Her commitment to active learning is a leavening force on our campus and her insight and guidance were particularly crucial in our recent Core revision process.” Read more about Vicky, her work and the award in The Commons.
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