President's Teaching Scholars Program



President's Teaching Scholars 2017 Call

President Bruce Benson solicits nominations from tenured University of Colorado faculty for designation for the 2017 President’s Teaching Scholars Program (PTSP).  Lifetime appointment as a CU President’s Teaching Scholar constitutes the University’s highest recognition of excellence in and active commitment to learning, scholarly teaching, and research and creative work.  PTSP designation is not an end-of-career-at-CU award.  Rather, it means membership in an active society of scholars and teachers involved in collaboration with faculty colleagues and faculty peers in departments, schools, and colleges.  With regard to teaching excellence, particular attention should be given to the element of “craftsmanship.”  Craftsmanship in teaching is the ART of teaching, existing independent of the tools (i.e. technology, methods, and programs).  As in other disciplines, craftsmanship is reflected in the distinct mastery, virtuosity, expertise, and quality.

In addition to excellence in teaching, PTSP recognition includes substantial contributions to scholarly work in one’s discipline or, in the case of a less senior scholar, indications of path-breaking contributions to his or her field.  Chancellors, deans, departments, and other faculty nominators are encouraged to nominate candidates for this designation and commitment.  Self-nominations will not be accepted.

All tenured faculty members who have been employed at CU for at least five consecutive years and who have received a teaching award at the University of Colorado are eligible to be nominated.  In addition, Clinical Teaching Track (CTT) faculty members who hold the rank of Professor or Associate Professor are eligible to be nominated, as are tenured and tenure-eligible faculty members in the School of Medicine who hold the rank of Professor or Associate Professor.  Becoming a President’s Teaching Scholar means extending high priority to the program, being engaged and staying engaged.  The Selection Committee will evaluate applications based on past achievements, present engagement, a broad perspective, and engagement in education and on furthering the goals of the President’s Teaching Scholars Program.

The deadline for applications is Friday, November 11, 2016.

The President’s Teaching Scholars are a group of faculty from all campuses chosen not only for skill in their own teaching and excellence in research, but also for their promise of improving education for students and enlarging educational possibilities across the University.  Designees to the program become part of a participatory, service-oriented, and collegial community.  Those appointed as Teaching Scholars will receive a $3,000 stipend for each of the first two years, a one-time operating expense teaching development fund of $2,000, and an addition of $2,000 to the base salary beginning third year.

Nominees must be teaching on their campus in the Spring 2017 semester, i.e., teaching as the sole faculty of record during January and February 2017 except in the case of Anschutz Medical Campus where some teaching is accomplished on a different calendar than the other campuses.

The evaluation process assumes that nominees can be observed when teaching on their campus during January and February 2017.  If an Anschutz Medical Campus nominee will not be teaching at that time, the dossier will be accepted and if the nominee is selected for teaching observation, the final decision on the application will be deferred until January 2018 to allow time for the teaching observation to be completed.  Anschutz Medical Campus nominees who cannot be observed at all during calendar 2017 are not eligible for consideration at this time.

An important part of the selection of PTS is observation of a nominee’s teaching by members of the Selection Committee followed by a conversation with the nominee.  Normally these observations are conducted in January or February (please read below).  Rarely, it can happen that a nominee’s teaching schedule does not permit observation at those times.  In such a special case, action on a nomination will be deferred as needed to allow for the observation to be conducted, with the nomination being considered among the next annual group of nominations.

Individuals selected will have the following attributes, evidence for which will be shown in detail in the dossier:

  • Enthusiasm and vitality in teaching and for learning
  • Evidence of continuous growth and leadership in their field of study
  • Effective ability to design and redesign courses including rigorous assessment of learning to produce intellectual challenge
  • Active and effective engagement in advising students and in guiding student learning in forms including research projects (including undergraduate research), theses, and dissertations
  • Encouragement of intellectual interests in beginning students and/or of greater achievement with advanced students
  • Highest level of responsiveness to, and understanding of, a diverse student body
  • Broad perspectives on the teaching and learning process, higher education, and scholarship
  • Commitment, willingness, and ability to participate actively in the Program, including working on PTS Program initiatives with Teaching Scholar colleagues

The appointment expects and presumes collegiality and active engagement with Teaching Scholar colleagues at retreats, in projects focused on teaching and learning developed individually and collectively, in stimulating discussion, innovation, and assessment of learning, and in critical reflection on teaching and student learning.  If designated, nominees commit to spending time with Teaching Scholar peers, for example, at the annual Fall and Spring retreats and the PTSP Annual Conference for all faculty.  Other commitments include service and committee work capacities and leadership activities on one’s campus with and for peer faculty.

Preparing the Candidate’s Dossier:

Dossiers should be created with this specific designation in mind.  Dossiers must be no more than 45 pages in length.  In addition to the 45 pages, please include a current Curriculum Vita and the FCQ summaries for the last five years of teaching at the University of Colorado.  Please submit six copies of the dossier in bound or loose-leaf notebook format.  The dossiers will not be returned; nominators should keep the original.

All copies of dossiers must include a table of contents and matching tabs for each section.  Nominators should work with the nominee in requesting detailed current (dated 2016) letters from faculty peers and students, both current and former, in support of the candidate.  In case a nominee’s career, teaching experiences, and/or scholarship are nontraditional, nominators should describe those characteristics in detail in the letter of nomination.

Dossiers must include, in the following order:

A table of contents

  1. A three-to-five page letter from the nominator naming the faculty member as a candidate, describing the candidate’s research in the discipline, its importance and contribution to the field, and the candidate’s teaching and learning environments.  The nominating letter may be from a Teaching Scholar.  Teaching Scholars may not write letters of recommendation.
  2. A current curriculum vitae
  3. Three current letters (dated 2016) from two (2) campus faculty members and one (1) outside campus faculty member addressing superb teaching in one’s discipline
  4. Three current letters (dated 2016) from two (2) campus faculty members and one (1) outside campus faculty member addressing active, substantial research and/ or creative work in one’s discipline
  5. The official individual course summary sheets of five consecutive years of results of CU faculty course questionnaires (or alternative student evaluation data, if summary sheets are not available).  If five consecutive years of results are unavailable, a letter of explanation must be included.
  6. Five letters (dated 2016) from current or former students addressing the nominee’s teaching and integration of research into teaching
  7. Evidence of having received a teaching award at the University of Colorado (e.g., official letter or copy of award certificate).  Concurrent nominations are not acceptable.
  8. Evidence that the nominee has assisted in the development of teaching students beyond the classroom.
  9.  A three-to-five page statement by the nominee describing his or her views of the four core tasks of teaching: course planning and preparation, actual teaching, evaluating student learning and providing feedback, keeping up with the professional field in teaching and integrating new knowledge into one’s courses
  10. A one-page proposal from the nominee for the scholarly (education) research project measuring classroom learning in a particular course for the University of Colorado: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL).  As part of this work, each scholar designs and undertakes an innovative research project in classroom learning aimed at deepening student engagement in the learning process for a specific course or a segment or module in a specific course.  This project should be completed and submitted for publication to a peer-referred source within the first two years after being designated a President’s Teaching Scholar.  At the end of the first year, the President’s Teaching Scholar will be invited to make a presentation at the PTSP Fall retreat defining the research project and its progress.  We will post the project title and description on the PTSP website at the time of designation.  The project is one that some nominees will have experience with and are expert in; others might be novice in the work of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL), a relatively new field of endeavor in the Academy.  We strongly advise those nominees in the latter category to arrange to be mentored by a Teaching Scholar.  See Directory at
  11.  A two-page “5-year” statement from the nominee answering these questions:
    1. What service will you do in the President’s Teaching Scholar Program in the next five years?  For example, you might plan to bring together a group of Assistant Professors in your department and develop a series of collaborative discussions with this learning community to assist them with innovative ideas in teaching and learning, etc.
    2. What are your aspirations for yourself as a teacher and for your students as learners in the next five years?

Nominators and nominees must adhere to the instructions for compiling the dossier.  The most thoughtful presentation of the dossier will consist of scrupulous adherence to the stated criteria.  A system-wide committee composed of Teaching Scholars will select up to three new President’s Teaching Scholars: 2017.

Additional Information on Projects

President’s Teaching Scholars’ Research Projects—Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL)

What kinds of work does this program support?  The central work of President’s Teaching Scholars is to create and disseminate examples of the scholarship of teaching and learning that contribute to thought and practice in and across fields and disciplines.  To this end, each scholar designs and undertakes a project/investigation aimed at deepening understanding of and practice related to an important issue in students’ innovative learning.  Several features for projects must be kept in mind:

  1. Proposed work should center on the definitions, experiences, problems, and values, and the investigation of one’s own students and classroom practices in a particular course.
  2. The focus of this work should be on learning for understanding, exploring primarily the character and depth of student learning that results (or does not) from teacher practice.
  3. We look for attention to enduring widely recognized issues and questions that have broad relevance or implications for student learning; scholarship that advances understanding of such questions is more likely to find audiences and outlets thereby contributing to far-reaching thinking and practice.
  4. We are interested in work that demonstrates a commitment to the personal and social development of students.
  5.  Also of interest is work with explicit links to prior and ongoing areas of investigation, and established lines of seminal research that builds on and is situated in reference to work authored by others.
  6. New scholars engaged in this work will be committed to documenting and sharing processes and results (scholarship is by definition public, available for review and critique).  As part of the PTSP dossier, please submit a one page or less project proposal that upon designation will be undertaken as a Teaching Scholar.

Selection Committee Policies and Procedures

Following are the policies and procedures followed by the Selection Committee:

General Policies

Any committee member having a personal or professional relation with a nominee must recuse himself or herself from discussing or ranking that dossier.  Examples: nominee is in the same department or has been a committee member who has previously served on an awards committee where the nominee was a candidate.

  1. When a committee member conducts the required observation of a candidate’s teaching, it is essential that he or she observe an actual, physical classroom performance as opposed to virtual teaching.
  2. The report on classroom observation may address any matters that seem relevant but should, at a minimum, assess how well the performance exemplifies the candidate’s philosophy of teaching as stated in the dossier (or, perhaps, how well it spontaneously departs to deal with unforeseen questions or problems).
  3. Nominations that fail to meet the deadline in the Call for Nominations or fail to submit all required material are automatically unacceptable.  Beyond that, the committee decides by consensus which dossiers to discuss (exceeds page limits, fails to present material in the required order) that it is unacceptable on these grounds.  In the case of dossiers that are automatically unacceptable or deemed unacceptable by the committee, the nominator is informed by a letter of regret from the Director. 
  4. Each committee member assigns each dossier to one of three categories: Discuss, Possibly Discuss, and Unacceptable.  The committee decides by consensus which dossiers to discuss, and discussion and decision are guided by the following questions.

Questions that guide discussion and decision

  1. General
    1. What is the essence of the nominating letter?
    2. How convincing is the nominating letter?
    3.  Is there anything unusual about the dossier (such as low FCQs) that has not been fully addressed by the candidate or in the letters?
  2. Teaching
    1. How convincing is the candidate’s statement concerning the four core tasks of teaching (planning and preparing courses, doing the actual teaching, evaluating student performance and providing feedback, and keeping up with the field so as to include new knowledge)?
    2. Has the candidate been successful in teaching outside the classroom in, for example, directing independent study, theses, and dissertations?
    3. Are the letters on teaching from peers and students enthusiastic, substantive, and convincing?
    4. Is there evidence that the candidate is truly exceptional rather than merely solid as a teacher?
  3.  Research
    1. Are the letters on research enthusiastic, detailed, current, and convincing?
    2. Is there a clear relation between the candidate’s research and teaching?
    3. The candidate’s proposed research project:
      1. Is the central issue clearly and convincingly stated?
      2. Does the method seem workable?
      3. Is there a realistic plan for widely disseminating the results via peer-reviewed publication?
      4. How likely is peer-reviewed publication?        
  4. The candidate as a potential citizen of the group?
    1. What evidence is there, and how convincing is it, that the candidate will be an active President’s Teaching Scholar by, for example, proposing and pursuing new initiatives, serving creatively on committees, and attending and participating in retreats, conferences, and sponsored events?
    2. Is there any evidence that the candidate is so busy with administrative or other work that he/she cannot serve the program?

Final Procedures

  1. By consensus, the committee generates a list of finalists and sends it to the whole membership together with a written report.
  2. At the same time, the dossiers of finalists are made available in a convenient and secure location on each campus for perusal by any member of the group.  The Director informs the group of where the dossiers can be inspected by members.
  3. No more than a week later, the members vote on the finalists by email ballot.  A simple majority in favor of a candidate means that he or she has passed this next to last step.
  4. As a final step, the President reviews each recommendation and approves or declines. 
  5. Unsuccessful candidates are informed by a letter of regret from the Director and successful candidates by a letter of congratulations from the President.

Expectations for Newly Named Designees

We ask each new member to begin in the Program by participating in the annual Fall Retreat, presenting at the PTSP sponsored Spring Conference on Teaching and Learning, or Spring Retreat, and attending a tea to honor the new members by invitation of the President.

At the time of selection and upon designation, each candidate offers a Teaching Scholar Project.  For project descriptions, visit  During the first two years, the faculty will explore, redevelop, and finalize the research plan described in their project.  At the first Fall Retreat after a Teaching Scholar’s appointment, he/she will present his/her proposal for a Teaching Scholar Project for discussion and critique by the assembled group of Scholars.  The following Spring, the Teaching Scholar will be asked to participate in the PTSP President’s Teaching and Learning Collaborative (PTLC) for further development in how best to pursue their Project in preparation for publication.  In the following Summer, the project should be finalized and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal or another publication in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Scholars will report their project to their department colleagues, at local venues, and at conferences both nationally and internationally.

The President’s office offers a budget, supported in part by each campus provost, for a research project in the teaching and learning collaborative.

President’s Teaching and Learning Collaborative (PTLC) was established in 2006.  It offers faculty from all campuses an opportunity for professional development and the experience and intellectual practice of work in two scholarly endeavors: teaching and research.  The PTLC (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) seeks to promote the practice of inquiry in teaching and measuring student learning.  The Collaborative assists University faculty in developing scholarly research projects on teaching and learning intended for refereed publication.

Mentoring Assistant Professor Colleagues: One of the important and rewarding duties of President’s Teaching Scholars is mentoring junior faculty.  Teaching Scholars will be asked to mentor an assistant professor in teaching, integrating research in teaching, and in career issues: they may mentor a junior colleague in their own department or in another.  If a Teaching Scholar is not mentoring a colleague in his/her own department or a related discipline, each campus Teaching Center will work with the Dean of the Teaching Scholar’s College to pair the Teaching Scholar with a colleague from another department.

Revised 3/3/2016