Two faculty members to receive Horace T. Morse Awards

UMD associate professors, Mitra Emad and Geoffrey Bell, have been announced to receive the 2017-18 Horace T. Morse Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. The award is expected to be given to Emad and Bell at the U of M Twin Cities campus’ McNamara Alumni Center on April 17. Winners of this award become members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers (ADT) and receive a one-time award of $15,000 to be put towards research or professional development.

 Emad said that she hopes the award draws attention to the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Emad said that she hopes the award draws attention to the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Emad, who works for the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) in the fields of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology, led efforts to establish UMD’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Bell is involved in Management Studies at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) and helped create LSBE’s Sustainable Organization Minor.

Bell said that one of the things that matters most to him is the opportunity to help college seniors who are unsure of what they will do after they graduate.

“It’s a really big honor,” Bell said. “It was an honor to be nominated. It’s just really humbling to see instances where apparently I was making a difference where I wasn’t even necessarily aware of it.”

Those involved in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers are involved in shaping how teaching and learning are done on all U of M campuses. Emad said that she is looking forward to working to foster change and further develop teaching and learning in the U of M system.

“I think the award is drawing attention to the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning,” Emad said. “The purpose of that is to have a place where faculty and all who teach on campus can get support and resources for teaching. I think any time we can bring teaching to the forefront of what we do at UMD, that’s an exciting aspect of life on this campus.”

Emad, who also won UMD’s Jean Blehart Distinguished Teaching Award in 2016, has utilized her skills to research student technology practices and how digital storytelling shapes those practices.

“The thing that I get the most excited about is being able to work with students directly and to meet students where they are, which is why I got interested in technology practices,” Emad said. “For me it was a big discovery that there aren’t any digital natives, that students and faculty have more in common with each other than they think, and that technology can actually be a bridge and a way of connecting rather than a way of alienating.”

 Bell is currently working on a redesign of his strategic management course to help students understand the material as easily as possible. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Bell is currently working on a redesign of his strategic management course to help students understand the material as easily as possible. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Like Emad, Bell’s work has not stopped either. He serves as the chairman of the Sustainable Education Committee and is currently working on a substantial redesign of his strategic management course, saying that he always searches for newer and better resources that can help students better understand course material.

“It’s a fun job, it’s the best job that I could imagine having,” Bell said. “Working with young people is an awesome opportunity. I can’t imagine me doing something that would be more fulfilling.”

NewsTyler Schendel