Excellence in Teaching Award Winners 2016-2017

Learn more about the CMU Excellence in Teaching Award process


Brittany Fremion

Brittany Bayless Fremion, History

Dr. Fremion is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History. She views teaching as “an important and unique form of activism” and that her “goal is to inspire [students] to create proactive, passionate, and informed responses to the many issues influencing their lives, making [her] courses valuable not only on paper but beyond the walls of the classroom.” A student commented, “this teacher was quite knowledgeable about youth culture, which seemed to help when making connections to the material and the student’s lives“. A colleague noted “The fact that students regularly arrive to class and leave it discussing the material rather than their social lives is impressive.” 


Holly Hoffman

Holly Hoffman, Program of Childhood Development

Dr. Hoffman is a Professor in the College of Education and Human Sciences.  A student said, “Holly is so empowering I think she should be a motivational speaker on the weekends!  Her personality is absolutely alive, vibrant, and positive.” A colleague noted, “This instructor frequently teaches our introduction class and Holly is the perfect ambassador to our profession.  Students love taking her classes and seek her out as a resource.”  Dr. Hoffman’s philosophy for successful teaching is... “to create an environment that is enriched and supportive. I believe creativity, open-mindedness, and the ability to build a level of trust and security are key. It is my honor to be a mentor – to live what I expect from students and offer support in various ways.”


Kelly Murphy

Kelly J. Murphy, Philosophy and Religion

Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is a valued member of the Department of Philosophy and Religion who seeks to inspire students to learn, to strive for excellence, and to make connections between course content and everyday life.  Her approach to teaching is characterized as “inspiring and empowering.” Her students describe her as having ‘a passion for everything that she teaches”.  Dr. Murphy’s colleagues similarly applaud the connections she seeks to make between course content and life outside the classroom”. Dr. Murphy states that she teaches “because I know that the skills students gain through studying my field are useful beyond the immediate classroom setting, no matter their future career paths.” 


Tierney Popp

Tierney Popp, Program of Childhood Development

Dr. Popp is Associate Professor in the Department of Human Environmental Studies, who serves as a role model for students and has inspired them through her teaching.  She stated in her teaching philosophy that she focuses on being “available, challenging, and supportive. I have a deep respect for individual student’s path, and emphasize the importance of carrying information forward and finding personal meaning with their learning.”  A student added, “Because the professor treated students with respect and shared her journey and struggled through undergraduate and graduate school with us, she was very inspirational toward learning”.


Catherine Willermet

Kyle C. Scherr, Psychology

Dr. Scherr is Associate Professor in the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.  His teaching paints a picture with three overarching themes: communication, community, and diversity. With Dr. Scherr, students find their voice. Said one student, “Dr. Scherr renewed my enthusiasm for my research, helped me to rebuild my confidence in attaining my goals, but maybe more importantly, he renewed my faith in the process and value of my advanced degree.” One colleague noted, “When I observe him teaching, I want to go learn more about it. I want to go do something about it.” Another colleague echoed, “He is a consummate storyteller who involves students in inquiry.” In Dr. Scherr’s words, “I aim to cultivate students’ intellectual curiosity to think critically about the world and join a global conversation about our world’s problems and the role of education in addressing those problems both within and outside the classroom.”