The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) Excellence in Teaching & Learning Awards recognize regular (Maroon Award) and fixed-term (Gold Award) faculty members who go above and beyond what is expected in creating exceptional learning opportunities for our students. The recipients are​ selected by the CLASS Excellence in Teaching & Learning Committee, which is composed of the committee chair Dr. Marcy Taylor, Associate Dean, and a representative from each department within the college.

Our recipients are experts in their fields, effective and creative in promoting student learning, inspire students to high achievement and receive high praise from them in return, and are admired advisors and mentors​ to future educators.​

2021 CLASS Excellence in Teaching & Learning Awards

Maroon Award
  • Lissa Schwander, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

Gold Awards
  • Cindy Davis, Department of World Languages and Cultures
  • Jody Sauer, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

Lissa Schwander - Social Work

Lissa SchwanderThe Maroon Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes a ​regular faculty member who goes above and beyond what is expected in creating exceptional learning opportunities for our students. The committee selected Lissa Schwander as this year's winner because she is an expert in her field, she is effective and creative in promoting student learning, she inspires students to high achievement and receives high praise from them in return. Her impact is perhaps best summed up with these words from colleagues and from one of her former students:

“Dr. Schwander truly excels in every aspect of teaching: classroom instruction, academic/professional advising, support for students in difficulty, and curricular development. In this current environment, it includes balancing the need for rigor and high expectations with the gentleness and understanding that so many of our students need due to personal barriers to the academic success such as the racism they experience, the impact of the pandemic, the death of one or more family members and mental health challenges.

“I recognize that all of us have had to step up and do more with the current pandemic and other challenges. There are some faculty, like Lissa, who rise above even that with their dedication and tireless commitment to our students.”

"Professor Schwander always challenged students to step outside of the status quo of social work practice and be a fierce advocate for the populations we serve and work with.”


Cindy Davis - World Languages & Cultures

Cindy DavisThe Gold Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes a ​fixed-term faculty member who goes above and beyond what is expected in creating exceptional learning opportunities for our students. The committee selected Cindy Davis as one of this year’s winners because she is an expert in her field, she is effective and creative in promoting student learning, she inspires students to high achievement and receives high praise from them in return. Her impact is perhaps best summed up with these words written by some of her colleagues and students:

“She is an inspiration to students as she encourages them to envision and to understand the wider world. Her joy in seeing the growth and development of her students is evident.”

“She is one of the most creative people I have ever known and is dedicated to designing opportunities in the classroom for her students so that they can achieve the highest level of proficiency possible.”

“Her enthusiasm is second to none and this, of course, resonates with her students!”

“Professor Davis is a personable and genuine individual who excels at providing an engaging and judgment-free environment for all students to learn.”


Jody Sauer - Sociology

The Gold Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes a ​fixed-term faculty member who goes above and beyond what is expected in creating exceptional learning opportunities for our students. The committee selected Jody Sauer as one of this year’s winners because she is an expert in her field, she is effective and creative in promoting student learning, she inspires students to high achievement and receives high praise from them in return. Her impact is perhaps best summed up with these words written by her students:

“Dr. Sauer’s lectures challenged me to think critically and introspectively about the material we were learning.”

“Dr. Sauer’s lectures are always thoughtfully prepared, thorough, and cover the information in a way that makes it easy to understand. She also encourages her students to try their hardest and inspires them to achieve more by always providing positive, but constructive, feedback.”

“I believe that Dr. Sauer would be an ideal choice for the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award. She goes above and beyond in teaching her students and provides a learning experience that is deserving of this recognition.”