Ronald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Award

The Ronald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Award is presented annually to one instructor or visiting faculty member from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences who has made outstanding contributions to teaching at WWU. The award was established by Ronald A. Kleinknecht, the founding dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Selection Criteria

The following criteria and policies are meant to secure comprehensive evaluation and maintain goodwill in the process.

  1. No person will receive this award more than once.
  2. Only the name of the winner of the award will be announced on completion of the process.
  3. The candidate must be an instructor or visiting faculty member in the College.
  4. Nominees will be asked if they wish to be candidates and, if so, required to submit materials to the committee. ­
  5. The award is a teaching award, not a research award; materials submitted should speak to teaching. ­
  6. To secure consistency in the evaluation process:
    • Supporting materials from the candidate will be limited to no more than three years. Student evaluations should be representative of courses taught within three years of teaching at Western. The candidate should provide copies of syllabi, reading lists, writing assignments, final exams, and any related materials used in the courses; more is not necessarily better in these materials.
    • The candidate will supply the committee with two letters of support from students and two letters of support from faculty members, based on observation of the candidate’s teaching.
    • The candidate will provide a current vita.

The candidate may provide up to two pages describing aspects of his/her teaching that may not be covered by the requested materials.


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May. Depending on availability of funding, the award will normally include a $1,000 stipend.

Award Administration

College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Office

Nomination Process

Nominations are solicited from alumni, students, and faculty members. A selection committee will review the candidates’ files and designate the recipient of the award. The committee will consist of one College affiliated tenure-line faculty member, one College affiliated student (selected by the AS Vice President for Academic Affairs), one previous award winner, and will be chaired by the Dean of the College.

Nominations for the 2024 award are now CLOSED. Thank you to those that took the time to nomination someone!


Daniel Chard in a yellow and blue plaid shirt and jacket with a WWU award medallion on a neck ribbon

Daniel Chard - History

Historian Daniel S. Chard has taught at Western since 2019 and is the author of “Nixon’s War at Home: The FBI, Leftist Guerrillas, and the Origins of Counterterrorism” (University of North Carolina Press, 2021) and other publications. A visiting assistant professor of history, his courses for the History Department include America since 1865, History of the Pacific Northwest, U.S. in the Cold War, U.S. and International Terrorism, and Violence in America Since 1941, and he has taught seminars for the Honors College including an interdisciplinary history course, The American Right. Chard enjoys making research a central component of his courses, empowering students to develop skills and knowledge while pursuing their personal interests and career goals. 

Currently, Chard is collaborating with a colleague at Whatcom Community College and members of the Lummi Nation Cultural Commission to develop an open-source lesson plan on the history, present, and future of the Lummi Indian Aquaculture Project established in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Working with Lummi elders has reinforced Chard’s commitment to defending tribal sovereignty and the environment, and informs his approach to teaching, which values students as whole people learning and growing in relationship with others, inside and outside of the classroom.

Past Awardees

1 awardee(s) for this year

2022 Awardees

Lindsay Poynter wearing a WWU award medallion

Lindsay Poynter - Health & Human Development

As a graduate herself of the Recreation Management and Leadership program at Western Washington University, and with 18 years of private mental health counseling practice in Washington State often drawing upon her master’s work in wilderness therapy, Lindsay brings a unique lens to her instruction at Western. In the 11 years she has been teaching at WWU she has taught over 15 different courses in RML and Health and Human Development.  Some of the early training that has created her foundations in teaching include work in outdoor and contemplative education, group development, and adventure therapy including former work with Outward Bound School, Passageworks Institute, Women’s Wilderness Institute, and her time as a graduate student at Naropa University.  Lindsay has long been passionate about the intersection of nature and health and lifting barriers that get in the way of humans accessing nature connection.  During the fall of 2021, one of her students (Ben Crandall) approached her to help advise his Fairhaven senior project—an idea that involved creating an Outdoor Wellness peer mentoring program. With the support of the RML program, the Counseling and Wellness Center, and the Outdoor Center, the Outdoor Wellness program launched this spring. Mentors and mentees meet weekly and utilize nature connecting experiences, mindfulness, physical activity, and socialization as support for mental health wellness.