Carnegie Mellon University

Elliott Dunlap Smith Award for Distinguished Teaching and Educational Service


The Elliott Dunlap Smith Award is presented annually to a full-time faculty member in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences for "Distinguished Teaching and Educational Service." The award is intended to recognize excellence and distinction in candidates as both teachers and educators.

Distinction as a Teacher

Contributions demonstrating distinction as a teacher include:

  • impact on students that persists over time,
  • innovation and creativity in teaching,
  • intellectual rigor in teaching and student learning,
  • ability to communicate effectively with less able as well as more able students, and
  • willingness to devote time to, and effectiveness in, interaction with students both outside and inside the classroom.

Distinction as an Educator

Distinction as an educator implies that the nominee has made contributions to education more broadly -- i.e., contributions that have had a significant impact beyond the nominee's own classroom and students.

Qualities demonstrating distinction as an educator include:

  • innovation and creativity in the development of educational materials or methods,
  • impact within or across disciplines of educational materials or methods developed by the nominee,
  • effectiveness in achieving educational results. including work in organizing educational activities (e.g., development and management of a department's academic advising system; distinction in service as coordinator/director of undergraduate or graduate studies; organizing an important educational conference),
  • ability to communicate to the audience involved, and
  • the general reputation of the nominee as an educator.


All full-time Dietrich College faculty members are eligible for nomination. No one person may win the award more than once. Administration The Dean of Dietrich College (or his/her designee) is responsible for the administration of the nomination and selection process, including the call for nominations and convening the Smith Award selection committee.

The Smith Award Committee

The Smith Award selection committee consists of:

  • the three most recent recipients of the Smith Award,
  • two undergraduate students selected through a process developed by the Dietrich College dean or his/her designee, and
  • the Smith Committee chairperson (appointed by the dean; the chairperson is a non-voting member).

The Smith Award selection committee adopts its own rules of procedure Nomination Nominations consist of two phases and may be made by any group of at least three persons, each of whom is either:

  • a current or retired faculty or staff member, or
  • a current or former full-time undergraduate or graduate student.

Phase One of Nomination

Nominations consist of a letter (maximum two single-spaced pages) that explains why the individual is worthy of the award. Because the decision to advance the nomination to the second phase of the nomination process is based on this letter alone, it should be descriptive, convincing, and specifically focused on the purpose of the award. The letter must be submitted on or before the first Monday in November, to be considered for that academic year. The committee will select at least two and at most five persons each year to be considered for phase two of the nomination process. Nomination letters can be submitted online.

Phase Two of Nomination

The nominators of each person selected are then responsible for preparing the full case for that nomination, following the guidelines.

To Nominators Assembling Smith Award Packages for Phase Two:

"Winning" nominations often include items that concretely help the committee to understand the candidate's impact as a teacher and educator, such as:

  • a nomination letter that provides descriptions of the instructor's outstanding teaching and/or innovations, whether they are classroom techniques, assignments, projects, course structure, educational materials, etc.,
  • a teaching statement from the candidate that indicates, in the nominee’s own words, what he/she does as an educator and why (some nominators recycle educational statements from other venues so as to keep the nomination confidential),
  • samples of innovations, e.g., assignments and/or teaching methods that are annotated to explain the nature of the innovation (2-4 examples); students' projects, whether poems, pictures of projects, essays, etc., again annotated to provide context (2-4 examples),
  • samples of the instructor's feedback to students,
  • letters from alumni who attest to and describe the long-term impact the nominee has had on them,
  • letters from current students who can discuss how and why the nominee impacted them:
    • letters from non-majors, if appropriate, are always compelling,
    • letters from graduate students that focus on the nominee’s teaching and/or mentoring,
  • letters from colleagues who have first-hand knowledge of the candidate's teaching (e.g., team teaching, direct observation) and/or interactions with students, including colleagues' perceptions of the candidate based on their interaction with the candidate's students (simultaneously or subsequently) and/or from colleagues who can comment on the candidate's role in departmental or college curriculum changes/conversations, situating the candidate in a larger educational context, if possible,
  • letters from teaching assistants who attest to the candidates' impact on their development as teachers,
  • Faculty Course Evaluations for all courses in at least the preceding five years; they can be supplemented with information on the number of students enrolled in each course and whether the students were majors or non-majors, and/or
  • a brief C.V. (2-4 pages).
  • While materials and evidence in the nominee's packet may go back several years, nomination packets should include current and recent materials as well (e.g., principal nominator's cover letter, statements by the nominee, course descriptions/syllabi, FCEs, student letters, etc.).

PLEASE NOTE that the maximum number of letters allowed is 30.

Questions can be directed to Joseph Devine, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Dietrich College

Submit award nomination packet to the Dietrich College Dean's Office

2023 Danny Oppenheimer Social and Decision Sciences
2022 Tom Werner Philosophy
2021 Kristina Straub English
2020 Raja Sooriamurthi Information Systems
2019 Gabriele Maier Modern Languages
2018 Lisa Tetrault History
2017 Steven Schlossman History
2016 Alex John London Philosophy
2015 Yasufumi Iwasaki Modern Languages
2014 Jeria Quesenberry Information Systems
2013 Rebecca Nugent Statistics
2012 Bonnie Youngs Modern Languages
2011 Sharon Carver Psychology
2010 Yueming Yu Modern Languages
2009 Kenneth Kotovsky Psychology
2008 Oded Meyer   Statistics
2007 Larry Heimann Information Systems
2006 Scott Sandage History
2005 Anne Green Modern Languages
2004 Susan Polansky Modern Languages
2003 Silvia Borzutzky Social and Decision Sciences
2002 Robert Cavalier  Philosophy
2001 Daniel P. Resnick History
2000 G. Richard Tucker Modern Languages
1999 Peggy Knapp English
1998 Paul Fischbeck  Social and Decision Sciences
1997 Jim Daniels English
1996 Eugene Levy History
1995 John Miller  Social and Decision Sciences
1994 Michael West  Modern Languages
1993 Richard Young  English
1992 Peter Stearns History
1991 Ann Hayes English
1990 Margaret Clark Psychology
1989 Richard Smith Social and Decision Sciences
1988 Richard Schoenwald History
1987 Joel Greenhouse Statistics
1986 Ludwig Schaefer History
1985 Lois Fowler English
1984 Steven Klepper Social and Decision Sciences
1983 Preston Covey Philosophy
1982 Michael Weber History
1981 John R. Hayes Psychology
1980 Granville Jones English