Scope: Full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty at RIT
The effectiveness of any institution of higher learning is largely due to the quality of its teaching. RIT established an annual award, the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching, in 1965 to recognize excellence in teaching. In 1975, to give added distinction and permanence to the award, an endowment fund honoring the late M. Herbert and Elsa Bausch Eisenhart was established. The fund supports up to four awards annually for outstanding teaching. In 1981 the award process was further enhanced by placing even greater emphasis on teaching effectiveness.
Mr. Eisenhart served on RIT’s Board of Trustees for more than 50 years and was the former president and chairman of the board of Bausch and Lomb, Inc. Mrs. Eisenhart was a granddaughter of John J. Bausch, one of the founders of Bausch and Lomb. In 1972 Mr. Eisenhart received the Founder’s Award, the university’s highest award.
Richard H. Eisenhart, the son of M. Herbert and Elsa Bausch Eisenhart and a member of RIT’s Board of Trustees for nearly 40 years, and his wife, Virginia, carried on the historic family relationship with RIT by endowing the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
These awards recognize the fundamental importance of the quality of teaching to the value of the education process, support faculty in their pursuit of excellence in teaching and leadership in the campus community, assist the university in nurturing the academic climate that fosters teaching at its best, and enhance teaching as a profession.
I. Partition of the Awards
Because of the diversified educational nature of RIT, where science, technology, humanities and behavioral disciplines all contribute equally to the educational development of students, four Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching may be assigned annually, one in each of four groups of faculty. The groupings can be found on the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching website.
One Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching may be awarded annually to a tenure-track faculty with three or less teaching experience at RIT by June 30 of the year previous to the year in which the award is given.
The primary honor accorded each recipient is the campus-wide recognition of his or her outstanding teaching, celebrated in spring term and at the Academic Convocation in May. Each recipient of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching shall receive a framed certificate of the award, a specially designed Eisenhart Award insignia, an engraved medallion, and a taxable cash award. The recipient of the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching shall receive a framed certificate of the award and a taxable cash award.
Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching
Each candidate must be a full-time faculty member of the university, shall be tenured and have completed at least seven years as a full-time tenure and/or tenure-track faculty member at RIT by June 30 of the year in which the award is given. The seven years of teaching does not have to be contiguous. It can be interrupted by service such as department head or by official leave. Candidates who have received the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost's Award during the seven years are eligible.
The nominee shall be a full-time faculty member for all of the year in which the award is given, and have at least once active course for the fall semester in which observation of the nominee's teaching is available. Nominees on parental or medical leave in the fall and thus not able to be observed shall have the option to postpone their candidacies by one year.
The primary responsibility of the nominee, demonstrated by the teaching assignments of the nominee, shall be teaching RIT students. Primary responsibility is defined as at least nine courses for the past three years and three courses in the year of evaluation, as principal instructor in formal RIT courses (classroom, lab, studio, online).
Faculty with administrative titles shall not be eligible for this award.
The candidate shall not have been a recipient of the award in the preceding seven years.
Nomination committee members shall not be eligible in the years in which they serve, but they may resign if recommended for evaluation. Members will be replaced as outlined below under Organization and Selection of Nomination Committees.
The coordinator of the Eisenhart Awards shall not be eligible but may resign if recommended for evaluation. In the event of a resignation, the chair of the Faculty Senate shall submit another name to Faculty Senate for approval as coordinator of the Eisenhart Awards. In the interim period, the chair of the Faculty Senate shall serve as coordinator.
Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Eachcandidate must be a full-time untenured, tenure-track faculty member at RIT, and have completed no more than four years as a full-time track-tenure faculty member at RIT by June 30 of the year previous to the year in which the award is given.
The nominee shall be a full-time tenure-track faculty member for all of the year in which the award is given, and will not be on official leave for any of this period.
The primary responsibility of the nominee, demonstrated by the teaching assignments of the nominee, shall be teaching RIT students. Primary responsibility is defined as at least six courses for past three years and two in the year of evaluation, as principal instructor in formal RIT courses (classroom, lab, studio, online).
Faculty administrators with the responsibility of supervision or assessment of faculty, other than for the purposes of peer review, classroom observations, or serving on mid-tenure, tenure, or promotion committees, are not eligible.
The candidate shall not have been a previous recipient of the award.
IV. Criteria for Awards
To determine teaching excellence, each nomination committee shall thoroughly investigate and establish that:
The candidate has clearly and unequivocally demonstrated superior teaching methods and has made significant contributions toward the betterment of RIT students’ educational, vocational and professional development. The superiority of each candidate shall have been thoroughly proven through documented evaluation, including endorsements by peers in the field of specialization, student evaluation, and classroom observation by the Nomination Committee members.
The candidate has demonstrated excellent knowledge of the discipline(s) taught.
The candidate has maintained the currency of material presented and general knowledge of subject matter through such means as: research, publications, conferences, professional communications, and contacts with fellow scholars or centers of research and study, seminars abroad or at home, or projects of scientific, artistic or professional interest to RIT’s students and faculty.
The candidate has made a distinct difference in the teaching climate of the college in such areas as: model classroom teaching, campus leadership, pioneering teaching methodology, creative course development and/or instructional support.
The candidate has been involved with and served the RIT community as a whole.
V. Presentation of Awards
Recognition of the award recipients shall be at the Academic Convocation with the participation of the university academic and administrative bodies, faculty and students. A recognition event will be hosted by the provost and the Faculty Senate to honor the award recipients.
VI. Overall Structure of the Selection Process
For each group there shall be a nomination committee of faculty members and students from that group. In addition, one faculty member from another college shall be appointed to each nomination committee by the Faculty Senate. Each nomination committee shall evaluate the faculty members in their group and recommend at most one nominee for the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching and one nominee for the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching to the Awards Committee for final evaluation. In any given year, a nomination committee may decide not to recommend any faculty member for either or both awards to the Awards Committee. In such an event, the decision of the nomination committee shall be final.
The Awards Committee shall review each nominee’s documentation and evaluation, as presented by a nomination committee.
From the nominees for the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching, the Awards Committee will confirm or not confirm each nominee as a recipient of the award. In any given year, the Awards Committee may decide not to confirm any of the nominees.
From the nominees for the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Awards Committee may select up to one nominee as a recipient of the award.
In any given year, the Awards Committee may decide not to select any of the nominees.
The decisions of the Awards Committee are final.
The selection process shall be overseen by the Eisenhart Awards coordinator.
Selection of the Eisenhart Awards Coordinator
The chair of the Faculty Senate shall nominate a faculty member from the ranks of prior Nominations Committee chairs for the position of coordinator and present that person’s name to the Faculty Senate for approval.
The Eisenhart Awards coordinator shall serve for one year, but may be reappointed.
Charge to the Eisenhart Awards Coordinator
The purpose of the coordinator of the Eisenhart Awards is to ensure that the selection process is carried out in a timely and unbiased manner. The coordinator is to act as the overseer of the entire process, ensure the procedural calendar is adhered to, and render decisions of an interpretive nature pertaining to the process. To discharge the duties of this office, the coordinator shall:
Be thoroughly familiar with the policies and guidelines for the selection of the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching and the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching as contained herein.
Chair the orientation meeting called for in the procedural calendar.
Make the RIT community aware of the commencement of the selection process by, but not restricted to, memo to the deans for dissemination to the faculty, public notice in student and alumni publications, and announcements to the Faculty Senate. This procedure shall occur so that all interested parties shall have time to recommend candidates to the nomination committees before the end of the fall semester, as provided for in the procedural guidelines.
Because of the diverse nature of RIT, questions regarding a candidate’s eligibility, the nomination committee having jurisdiction, etc., may arise from time to time. In the event that these questions on these policies cannot be resolved, the coordinator shall consider the matter and render a decision based on an interpretation of these policies and the intended spirit of the award. In matters of this nature, the coordinator shall seek the advice and counsel of the chairs of the immediate past years’ nomination committees.
Be available to all nomination committees and the Awards Committee to explain policy and procedure, give interpretations, and provide general direction, guidance and assistance.
VII. Organization and Selection of Nomination Committees
There shall be a nomination committee for each of the groups.
Each committee shall consist of the following: two full-time tenured faculty members with at least seven years of teaching at RIT from each college or unit assigned to that group; the appointee of the Faculty Senate; and two student representatives appointed by the president of Student Government.
College elections (or appointments) of faculty representatives to nomination committees shall be presided over by the appropriate Institute Council representative. Runners-up, where elections are conducted, shall serve as replacements in the event of resignation of committee members who wish to be considered for the award. The faculty from each college on each nomination committee shall be tenured faculty members.
The term for each nomination committee member shall be a three-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms. The committee shall annually elect a chair (or co-chair) from the faculty committee members.
Each voting member of a nomination committee shall have one vote and all votes shall be equal.
The recommendation of candidates to the Awards Committee shall be by a majority vote of each nomination committee.
VIII. Charge to the Nomination Committee
The purpose of each nomination committee is to seek out the most outstanding teacher for both the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching and the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the group that they represent.
To ensure that the search is as fair and unbiased as possible, each committee shall strive to obtain its information from sources other than the candidate or sources provided by the candidate. There may, of course, be exceptions: e.g., a resume, a course outline, etc. However, the spirit of the search is to be as impartial as possible, the responsibility for collecting information resting with the committee.
In its efforts to find the most outstanding teacher, each committee shall accept and evaluate candidates without discrimination, including, but not limited to, discrimination based on gender, age, religion, race, nationality or sexual orientation:
Ascertain that each candidate is eligible.
Obtain a signed consent form from each nominee, agreeing to the evaluation.
Perform a preliminary evaluation that will be limited to:
Current curriculum vitae
List of courses taught in the last three years
Student evaluations for the last three years, if available
Enjoy discretionary power in the evaluation of the finalists. However, the candidates recommended to the Awards Committee shall have clearly and unequivocally demonstrated outstanding and active involvement in assisting RIT students. Furthermore, scholarship as criteria shall be used only as it applies to teaching.
Accept and evaluate recommendations from alumni, students, deans, department head/directors, and faculty members.
Be free to use a variety of procedures and evidence to investigate finalists. These procedures may also include but are not limited to:
Interviews with students, faculty, deans and department heads/directors;
Interview with the finalists by two members of the committee;
A special Eisenhart Award evaluation process developed by the nomination committee.
Standardized assessment forms will be used in deliberations by each committee to enable parity in judgment. Class visitation by two members of the committee is strongly encouraged as part of the evaluation of final candidates, provided the candidate has given his/her prior written consent.
Submit to the Awards Committee, at the discretion of the nomination committee, the name of one candidate for the Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching and the name of one candidate for the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching. The recommendations shall be supported with clear, precise and detailed documentation, as well as an oral presentation by the chair to the Awards Committee.
IX. Organization of the Awards Committee
The Awards Committee shall be comprised of eight members: the provost and two appointees of his/her choice from previous Eisenhart Award winners; the chair of the Faculty Senate and two appointees of his/her choice from previous award winners; one student selected by the president of Student Government; and the Eisenhart Awards Coordinator (non-voting). Appointees should not currently be members of nomination committees, but they might well be chosen from among former nomination committee members.
The Eisenhart Awards coordinator will serve as chair of the Awards Committee.
The Awards Committee shall request a brief presentation by the chair of each nomination committee explaining its selection process and why it believes the candidate for each award to be an outstanding teacher.
Each voting member of the Awards Committee shall have one vote and all votes shall be equal.
All decisions of the Awards Committee shall be by majority vote.
X. Charge to the Awards Committee
The purpose of the Awards Committee is to review the activities of each nomination committee to assure that fairness and impartiality have been maintained by the nomination committee in its evaluation, and to review the documentation on each candidate for each award presented to the Awards Committee to assure that the high standards of excellence in teaching have been obtained.
To discharge its responsibility, the Awards Committee shall:
Assure that fairness, objectivity and nondiscrimination have been adhered to by the nomination committees by reviewing the evaluation procedures of each nomination committee.
Verify that each candidate presented is eligible.
Review the supporting documentation provided by the nomination committees to assure the criteria for outstanding teaching have been met.
Determine recipients for the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching
Ensure fairness and objectivity in the final selection of the nominees for the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching by considering each candidate and supporting documentation separately and independently from all other candidates. The recipient of an award must have demonstrated outstanding excellence in teaching but shall not be compared or ranked against other candidates.
Affirm or reject the nominations of each nominating committee for the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching as recipients of the awards.
Determine the recipient for the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Additional information may be obtained to clarify the nominee’s documentation.
Select or not select one recipient from the nominees presented by the Nominations Committees.
XI. Return of Evaluation Material
Any material solicited from a candidate shall be returned immediately after the public presentation of the award. Any material obtained from sources other than the candidate becomes the property of the nomination committee and may be saved, returned to the original contributor or destroyed, at the direction of the nomination committee.
All materials collected by a nomination committee are to be held in strictest confidence. In no way, and under no circumstances, should the right to confidentiality of an individual faculty member, a department or a college be breached. The confidentiality of material shall include, but is not limited to, student evaluations, dean and/or department head/director evaluations, evaluations resulting from classroom visits, and discussions and/or the synopsis thereof held with students, faculty, deans and department heads/chairs, and members of the RIT community. Further, the deliberations of the nominations committee and the Awards Committee are also to be held in strict confidence. However, materials may be used in preparation of materials used in the award celebrations.
XIII. Review of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines
Because of the ever changing and growing nature of RIT, these policies and guidelines may need review and revision from time to time. To ensure that any concerns that may arise are addressed on a timely basis, commencing in 1985 and every five years thereafter, the chair of the Faculty Senate will appoint an ad hoc committee to review the entire process and consider any suggestions forwarded to the Faculty Senate. If the ad hoc committee concludes that revision is desirable, they shall draft a proposal for submission to Faculty Senate. If the proposal is approved by the Faculty Senate, it shall be forwarded to the provost for final approval by the president.
Faculty Senate. Inquiries can be directed to:
Faculty Senate firstname.lastname@example.org
Approved February 5, 1965
Revised September 2006
Revised May 7, 2009
Revised May 20, 2010
Edited September 2010
Revised October 4, 2012: Combined this award process with the process for the Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s award for Excellence in Teaching, removed the groupings of colleges and time line.
Revised May 8, 2014 – sections III.A.3, III.B.1, III.B.3, IV.A.1, VII.D, X.D, and X.E.
Revised April 5, 2018, III.A.4.
Revised March 18, 2021, III.A.2