Carnegie Mellon University


Each spring, the CMU community gathers to honor distinguished faculty and educators for outstanding contributions in the areas of...
Substantial & Sustained Contributions to Education
Teaching Excellence & Innovation | Advising & Mentorship  |  Outreach & Service

Doherty Award for Sustained Excellence in Education

Richard Scheines headshotRichard Scheines

Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Richard Scheines has made significant contributions to the educational mission of the university, including playing a leading or senior role in the Simon Initiative, the Open Learning Initiative (OLI), the PIER program and the METALS program. In 1997, Dr. Scheines led the creation of the human- computer interaction major and directed the major for seven years. As a researcher, he collaborated with Professor Wilfried Sieg to develop an intelligent tutor for formal proofs and show it to be effective. He also was part of a team that used causal discovery methods he helped develop to show that interactive exercises in online courses are between 6 and 15 times more effective than passive activities like reading or watching videos at improving student learning outcomes, a phenomenon now known as the “doer effect.” As dean of Dietrich College, Scheines led a complete revision of the college’s General Education program, designed to provide students with serious exposure to multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving and to iteratively improve in response to continual multi-pronged empirical assessment. Dean Scheines launched the Grand Challenge Seminar program for first-year students, the Pittsburgh Summer Internship Program and a Community Engagement Fellowship program. He has passionately and effectively promoted interdisciplinary education in the Dietrich College, across CMU and beyond.

Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching

Mame-Fatou Niang headshotMame-Fatou Niang

Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies and Director-Founder of the Center for Black European Studies and the Atlantic (CBESA), Department of Languages, Cultures and Applied Linguistics, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mame-Fatou Niang is charting a new path in pedagogy that is pushing boundaries in higher education. Her work brings students into the process of creating, learning and educating as she prioritizes their voices and thoughts. Dr. Niang exemplifies the highest standards of student mentorship, seamlessly integrating her research and teaching, via both creative and research projects generating high-impact learning experiences that integrate multiple mediums and student perspectives as thought and learning partners. As an educator, she thoughtfully and innovatively blends technologies, mediums, pedagogical approaches, and challenging societal issues that cut across her students’ interests in the humanities, social sciences and STEM.

Award for Outstanding Contributions to Academic Advising and Mentoring

Kurt Larsen headshotKurt Larsen

Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Engineering

For over a decade, Kurt Larsen has advised up to 200 first year students in the College of Engineering every year. He is often a resource and advisor for students past the first year and graduation, going on to advise on career changes and life beyond higher education. His students recognize him as a responsive support system, trusted advisor and champion of their pursuits. In addition to being a contributor to the Associate Deans’ Council and the Advising Community, Kurt is the creator of CIT Day, a college-wide tradition designed to bring undergraduate engineering students together at the beginning of the semester.

Lazarus Award for Student and Faculty Mentoring

Shawn Blanton headshotShawn Blanton

Associate Department Head for Research and Joseph F. and Nancy Keithley Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering

Shawn Blanton has mentored, both formally and informally, an impressive number of graduate students and junior faculty. He has gone above and beyond the typical mentor responsibilities to provide tangible and personal support to his mentees to ensure their success inside and outside of academia. Dr. Blanton has a demonstrated ability to not only recruit a diverse set of graduate students, particularly from underrepresented minoritized populations, but also to support their experience at CMU. The positive impacts he has made on CMU’s advising culture and the institution’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts will have lasting benefits.

Teaching Innovation Award

B. Reeja Jayan headshotReeja Jayan

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Courtesy Appointments, Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, College of Engineering

Reeja Jayan has used the video game Minecraft as an innovative way to connect foundational principles of materials science and engineering to students in mechanical engineering courses and beyond. Recognizing a need to “attract, train, and empower a diverse pipeline of skilled engineers” to work in various fields in the U.S., Dr. Jayan and her team have developed virtual classrooms, simulations, and even a textbook in Minecraft, which students of all levels find accessible and engaging. Her work extends beyond the CMU classroom and is available to other learners, including local middle schoolers who engage in the virtual learning experiences through outreach opportunities.

Jerry Wang headshotGerald J. Wang

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering

Jerry Wang has turned a simple idea around expressions of gratitude into an impactful and motivational learning experience. In both a sophomore-level undergraduate CEE course as well as a graduate-level elective, students are asked to write optional notes of appreciation — called “Participation Shoutouts” — to their classmates, and, if the letter writer chooses, are then shared anonymously back to the recipients. Through this work, Dr. Wang shows how the network of connections formed by sending notes relates to the graph theory he teaches, tapping into crucial socioemotional factors that are supported by research but are often overlooked in the classroom. The practice has had a profound impact on students, helping them develop lasting friendships, combat impostor syndrome, and improve morale.

Graduate Student Teaching Award

Suzy Li headshotSuzy (Zekun) Li

Doctoral Candidate, School of Architecture, College of Fine Arts

Suzy Li is recognized as a central contributor to the School of Architecture’s teaching program. As a teacher for both undergraduate and graduate curriculum, she brings together the perfect combination of expertise, humility, enthusiasm and compassion. Suzy is an attentive teacher and mentor to fellow TAs, as well. She is committed to inclusive teaching and has implemented asynchronous discussion boards to help students engage in discussion even if they don’t feel comfortable speaking in class. In addition to her deep technical knowledge, she also designed a class in which students have the opportunity to show their knowledge in well-designed assignments.

Graduate Student Service Award

Awarded jointly to Isabel Murdock and Mansi Sood (both Doctoral Candidates in Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Isabel Murdock and Mansi Sood are co-creators of the Pittsburgh Women in Mathematics and Computing Symposium (WMCS). Together, they brought this event to life to connect young women in mathematics and computing fields. They organized the event from the ground up, creating a meaningful networking opportunity for students across STEM disciplines and universities. The event focused on providing students with resources and mentors to pursue research opportunities and advanced degrees, as well as facilitated an environment that allowed doctoral students and faculty to grow their research networks and speak in a supportive and impactful setting. Isabel and Mansi are both recognized as passionate researchers who embody CMU’s institutional values through their initiatives for supporting their peers and the broader community.

Isabel Murdock headshotIsabel Murdock

Doctoral Candidate, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Isabel Murdock received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from CMU. She is currently working towards her doctoral degree and is a winner of ECE’s Commitment to DEI Award. She has led multiple STEM outreach efforts in the Pittsburgh community, previously served as an assistant chairman and push captain of a CMU buggy organization, and is a distinguished graduate of Air Force ROTC.

Mansi Sood headshotMansi Sood

Doctoral Candidate, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Mansi Sood is working towards her doctoral degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She has served on the program’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach Committee. For her contributions to outreach in the Pittsburgh community, including fundraising for the local foodbanks and leading local art programs, she has been recognized by the ECE’s Unsung Hero Award. She has been recognized as an EECS Rising Star for two terms: MIT (2021) and Georgia Tech (2023).