Writer: Hayden Coombs
Every spring, faculty members and their spouses come together to celebrate the teaching efforts of faculty at BYU-Idaho at the annual Faculty Banquet. The Best Practices Committee organizes the evening's program to uplift and inspire faculty in their teaching efforts through presentation ofthe Exemplary Faculty Awards. Elaine Hawker, who has served on the committee for three years, was recently named the Chair of the Best Practices Committee.
"The faculty banquet doesn't just happen. It is something that we try to make special," Sister Hawker commented. "We want all members of the faculty to walk out of this banquet feeling better about themselves and feeling better about what more they can do as teachers at BYU-Idaho. We want them to be continuously more excited about teaching."
Quite a bit of time and preparation go into planning and preparing the Faculty Banquet. Determining the date for the banquet is something that happens almost a year in advance. "It's a top priority because we have to find a date that is clear on President Clark's schedule, while not waiting too late into the year so we don't have to compete with concerts, high school graduation, etc."
Once a date is selected, the committee then focuses on choosing a theme. The theme for the most recent Faculty Banquet, "One by One Teaching," was selected in the fall of 2011. Once the theme was finalized, former committee chair, Todd Kelson, sent out a questionnaire to 1500 students asking students the question: "Have you had a singular experience at BYU-Idaho in which a faculty member has impacted you and changed your life?" Of the 500 returned responses, the committee chose 15 of the best responses. Brother Kelson then interviewed those students for the video presentation.
The next step in this process is collecting the names of those who will be receiving the Exemplary Faculty Award. The Exemplary Faculty Award is presented at the Faculty Banquet each year. Unlike the Distinguished Faculty Award, where recipients are nominated by fellow members of the faculty,the Exemplary Faculty Award recognizes work done in individual colleges and departments. The Best Practices Committee solicits recommendations from each of the department chairs in their respective colleges. These nominees are then passed on to the college deans and then the award recipients are narrowed to three to five per college to be approved by the President's Executive Group. Nominees must be in at least their third year of teaching and must be full-time faculty and should show demonstrated effort and excellence in one or more of the following categories:
"Once all of that is done, the Best Practices Committee, with the support from the Instructional Development Office, gets everything to come together smoothly," Sister Hawker said. "The faculty banquet is a lot of work, but we are happy to do it because our faculty does such a great job and this is our way of honoring them."
To read more about the 2012 Faculty Banquet, you may follow this link.