Two Faculty Honored for Excellence in Teaching

Each year, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies honors two faculty members for their excellence in teaching. This year, the recipients were Corliss Brown Thompson and Darin Detwiler.  Both were honored at the College’s graduation ceremony on May 13, 2016. 

Corliss Brown Thompson, PhD

Nominated by students in the Graduate  School of Education, Dr. Corliss Brown  Thompson, Assistant Teaching Professor, is a recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Teaching  Award in the College of Professional Studies.

Dr. Thompson’s students point to her  excellence as a “scholar, teacher, and guide,” and note her ability to help them realize meaningful and impactful community engagement strategies in their work. She  approaches the teaching of social justice with  a “supportive learning environment without  judgment.” In the words of another nominator,  Dr. Thompson is “an extraordinary faculty member who pushes each of her students to make social change in real time and not just dream about it.” Her nominations also cite her caring and compassion for students, which makes a real difference in their achievements of success.

Dr. Thompson’s colleagues find her a “compelling presence” in the Charlotte, NC doctoral cohort, and commend her efforts to “uphold the diversity of our students in our mission to couple research and theory to effect meaningful change.”

Prior to joining the College, Dr. Thompson earned a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Education with a focus in Culture, Curriculum, and Change, and also served as a teacher in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She has been an integral part of the College of Professional Studies’ regional efforts in the Southeast as well as in our broader educational programs. Her research agenda focuses on culturally responsive curriculum, diversity, and teacher education, areas in which she publishes and presents. Currently, Dr. Thompson is working on a study with colleagues that examines the development of meaningful social justice courses in an online format.

Darin Detwiler, MA

Nominated by students in the graduate studies Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food  Industries program, Lecturer Darin Detwiler is a recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Teaching  Award in the College of Professional Studies.

Detwiler’s students call him an “outstanding  and engaging” instructor who shares an  enormous passion for his discipline, which he  instills in others. As examples of his  excellence, students wrote that he created a  model of online learning that fosters a  creative, collaborative approach, and that he  facilitates a real-time, engaged learning  environment that greatly impacts his students.  “Professor Detwiler has been the best professor I’ve had,” wrote one student.  “He shares his experience with students and engages with us to discuss our individual needs.”

Detwiler left a career as a submarine nuclear mechanical engineer in the U.S. Navy due to the loss of his young son to an E.coli outbreak in 1993.  Resolved to take action, he has spent over 20 years in food regulatory affairs and has gained a track record in federal food policy reform testifying before the U.S. Congress on the state of food safety and working with both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strengthen food safety regulations.  The Secretary of Agriculture appointed Detwiler to serve two terms as a USDA regulatory policy advisor on the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection.  Key products of his efforts are the federally mandated Food Safe Handling Instructions labels, which since 1994 have been required on all packages of meat and seafood sold in stores across the country, and the inclusion of victims and consumer advocates as stakeholder voices in the FDA’s development of rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Prior to joining the College, Detwiler taught in secondary and postsecondary education, including teaching secondary History, Math, Science, Biotechnology, and Forensic Science for 15 years, and Humanities and Comparative Governments at Bellevue College in Washington for five years.  In 2013, he received the Washington State Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History.

Detwiler is a candidate for the Doctor of Law and Policy degree at Northeastern University.

About the Excellence in Teaching Awards

Nominations for this award are made by currently enrolled students. All full-time, half-time, and part-time faculty members are eligible for nomination. The nominations are reviewed by a committee appointed by the Dean of the College, which makes its recommendations for the annual award to the Dean.

In considering nominations, the committee seeks candidates who demonstrate especially high intellectual standards in terms of course content, rigor, and integration of the best scholarship; depth of knowledge in the subject; and evidence of scholarly and pedagogical growth as new knowledge is created and new classroom technology is developed.

Excellence in teaching also is defined as making effective and inspiring links between teaching and practice and/or experiential learning, as well as employing effective teaching strategies that encourage students to participate in the teaching-learning process. These strategies include, but are not limited to, innovative uses of technology to enhance student learning. The award also encompasses measures of the candidate’s breadth and depth of impact on undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students’ intellectual development; an exceptional ability to communicate and otherwise ensure a rich learning experience; and other extraordinary, unique, or pioneering contributions to excellence in teaching.

The Excellence in Teaching Award is given once each calendar year.