The Best Should Teach Initiative strives to acknowledge excellence in teaching and academic leadership. The initiative is managed by the Graduate Teacher Program in coordination with the School of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate School at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Lindley and Marguerite Stiles established the initiative in 1996 to promulgate the message that “The Best Should Teach.”
A Best Should Teach sculpture designed by John Haertling, which represents the flame of enlightenment, is installed at the School of Education on the University of Colorado Boulder campus as a visual reminder of the initiative and of the importance of teaching.
The Best Should Teach Initiative celebrates excellence in teaching at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. It supports the preparation of college and university faculty, as well as public school teachers, in their disciplinary fields. Best Should Teach Gold and Silver Awards are presented at the event each year. The Best Should Teach event and awards are co-funded by the Ira and Ineva Baldwin Fund in the CU Foundation and Brian Good's private Best Should Teach Fund, with additional support from the Graduate School, the School of Education, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Distinguished Professor • Director, University of Colorado BioFrontiers Institute
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute • Principal Investigator, Cech Lab
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado, Boulder
Tom Cech is a CU Boulder Distinguished Professor and winner of Colorado’s first Nobel Prize (1989). He is the director of the BioFrontiers Institute and shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his findings that RNA in living cells is not only a molecule that encodes information, but is also a catalyst. His discovery laid the foundation for advances in molecular genetics and gave rise to an expanding appreciation for the roles of RNA in biology. Distinguished Professor Cech is the 2017 winner of the Hazel Barnes Prize, the top prize awarded to CU Boulder campus faculty.
Cech’s role in teaching matches his research accomplishments. He has routinely taught general chemistry to freshmen, using interactive teaching methods such as “clickers” and in-class demonstrations. He includes undergraduate learning assistants to help fellow students master the material as they hone their own teaching skills.
He also led the development of an innovative graduate student education program at BioFrontiers called the Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology (IQ Biology) Ph.D certificate program. The IQ Biology program currently has 38 active doctoral students who can choose to work with many mentors in 13 departments.
Cech came to CU Boulder as a faculty member in 1978. Over his CU Boulder career he has trained 54 postdoctoral scientists, 36 graduate students and countless undergraduates.
In recent years, Cech has been conducting basic science research on telomerase, the replicating enzyme on chromosome ends that has implications for both cancer and aging. His current research is on telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), building the framework for the future development of new treatments for cancer.
Cech became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator in 1988, then served as president of the Chevy Chase, Maryland-based HHMI – the nation’s largest science philanthropy – from 2000 to 2009 while retaining his CU Boulder faculty positions and lab. He is currently an HHMI Investigator and also has a faculty appointment at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.