Excellence in Teaching Award

This award for Excellent in Teaching goes to a faculty member* from one of the following colleges: 

  • Business and Economics
  • Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Fine and Performing Arts
  • The College of the Environment
  • Woodring College of Education

*Please Note: Only Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, or Professors are eligible for this award. (Instructors, Lecturers, Senior Instructors are not eligible. Please check the staff directory for faculty titles.)

Selection Criteria

The criteria that will be considered include:

  • Inspirational/Transformational and value of learning for career/life decisions/etc.
  • Vision, purpose, and intentionality for teaching
  • Engagement beyond class, mentoring student (students, other faculty, etc.)
  • Innovative pedagogy, continual development
  • Overall awesomeness


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May. This award also includes a payment of $2,500, made possible by the Western Washington University Foundation. (Please note: for each payment, the University also contributes approximately $1,553.66 for tax related deductibles plus benefits for a total expenditure of approximately $3,553 per award).

Award Administration

The College of the Environment and Woodring College of Education (rotates)

For 2023, Woodring College of Education will be administering the award and the points of contact are Debbie Arthur, arthurd2@wwu.edu and Elizabeth Serrano, serrane3@wwu.edu.

Nomination Process

Students, alumni, faculty and staff members are encouraged to nominate faculty members (Professors, Assistant Professors, or Associate Professors) for the Excellence in Teaching Awards. Nominations for the 2023 award CLOSED December 1. Thank you to those of you that took the time to nomination someone!


Dolores Calderón wearing WWU award medallion

Dolores Calderón - Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Dolores Calderón (J.D., Ph.D.) is an associate professor at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University. Calderón teaches in the Law, Diversity and Justice Program and the Education and Social Justice Minor. As a researcher who embodies the complicated subjectivities of the U.S./Mexico border—Mexican (arrivant/immigrant), Indigenous (Tigua Pueblo), and U.S. citizen—Calderón is interested in researching and participating in work that untangles and unpacks the complicated way multiple colonialisms impact decolonial practices in education, including the classroom.

She is from the El Paso/Juarez border region where her family (Mexican & Tigua) have lived since the 1680s. Her research interests include coloniality/settler colonialisms, land education, and border issues as they manifest themselves in educational contexts. Some of her research projects include examining how settler colonial ideologies manifest themselves social studies curriculum, in teacher education, and teacher professional development. As a firm believer that theory is best illuminated by engagement, she values the work educators do to concretize critical perspectives. Specifically, while Calderón’s teaching offers critical perspectives, Calderón emphasizes that theory is best illuminated by practice, encouraging students to explore engaged community and policy work.

Past Awardees

1 awardee(s) for this year

2021 Awardees

Photo of John Korsmo, Health & Community Studies

John Korsmo - Health & Community Studies

Dr. John Korsmo is a Professor of Human Services, and Chair of the Health and Community Studies Department. His scholarship relates to human ecology - particularly related to youth and family efforts to deal with and depart from cycles of poverty. His dedication to supporting low income and first-generation students has been central to his work at Western. His teaching is inspired by more than two decades of practice in the human services sector – primarily working with children, youth, and families experiencing poverty, systemic racism, and marginalization.

John’s relational practice in the classroom supports sense of belonging and connection, which enhances his ability to work with students on critically understanding complex systems and emotionally-laden topics such as personal identity, systemic oppression, racism, and inequities. With a PhD in Urban Education and a MS in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, John has developed numerous case studies, curricular materials and simulations that are used by thousands of educators and practitioners around the country and globally. His scholarship has been published in dozens of journals and professional publications as well as books and periodicals, and more.

John’s motivation comes from his own experiences in poverty and as a 1st-gen college graduate, and is sustained through his family, friends, community partners, and students.