Once again, a Utah State University professor has been named Utah’s Carnegie Professor of the Year. The 2004 Carnegie awards program, which honors one professor from each state, selected Utah State anthropologist Bonnie Glass-Coffin, who will travel to Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony.
The College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences will honor Glass-Coffin with a reception and short ceremony on Friday, Dec. 3, at 3 p.m. in the David B. Haight Alumni Center. Exhibits of her students’ fieldwork will be on display at the reception.
The annual award is given to college professors who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching. Glass-Coffin was nominated for the prestigious award by peers, students and administrators, and selected from nearly 400 nominees across the country. The award is sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and TIAA-CREF.
“The experiences that Bonnie gives her undergraduate students parallel the kinds of experiences one would expect in graduate studies,” said Gary Kiger, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. “Bonnie stretches the definition of academic engagement to new levels, taking learning from the classroom to a remote Peruvian fishing village where students learn 24/7.”
Glass-Coffin developed an international ethnographic field school in Huanchaco, Peru, and recruited an adventurous band of students for the five-week cultural immersion. In Peru, students discover the impacts of economic, social and cultural change, according to Glass-Coffin. They interview locals, create cognitive maps, observe local rituals and take part in traditional celebrations.
Student Elizabeth Cox said of her five weeks in Peru, “I learned more about anthropology and myself than in my previous three years of undergraduate work.”
The experience also enriches the life of the villagers.
“As a result of this study, the quality of life of our people has changed,” said Abel Gurbillon, managing director of the Latin American Center of Science and Technology in Huanchaco, Peru. “The student papers serve to re-value our customs and our lives.”
In the classroom, Glass-Coffin guides students as they develop and share presentations akin to seminars at professional meetings, Kiger said. Students also create museum exhibits that reflect their ethnographic fieldwork. The displays are part of the rotating exhibits at the Museum of Anthropology on campus, where they are viewed by hundreds of public school students. A dozen students have parlayed their in-depth field projects into papers that have been presented at professional meetings and conferences.
Glass-Coffin also brings her love of Latino people home, according to Charles Nelson, former principal at Logan High School. She has worked with Latino families in Cache Valley in an effort to improve their communication with school officials. Glass-Coffin has written grants to improve Latino parent/teacher interactions, has volunteered as an English as a second language (ESL) aide at Logan High School and has been an advocate for the Latino community at school, Nelson said.
Student Corey Tyler Larsen said that Dr. Glass-Coffin empowers students. “She invites students to be passionate about their field work,” Larsen said. “At the time I took her class I wasn’t even sure what anthropology was. Bonnie challenged the class to think about life from a different perspective. She never took sides on issues. She respected everyone’s point of view.”
One teacher is honored in the state of Utah each year with the Carnegie award. During the last ten years, seven Carnegie Awards went to Utah State University professors.
For more information about the award, contact Chris Fawson, vice provost for Academic and International Affairs, at 797-1840 or see Utah State's Carnegie Professor Web site
. For information about the reception, call Sally Okelberry at 797-1200. For information about the Peruvian project go to the Web site