Professor of the Year

Nancy Bristow: 2007 Washington State Professor of the Year

by Mary Boone

A thick packet of nomination papers submitted to support UPS history teacher Nancy Bristow’s candidacy for Professor of the Year could be summarized in a word: Inspirational. Colleagues, administrators, and students all cited Bristow’s dedication to students, enthusiasm for teaching and learning, timely and thoughtful communications, and first-rate scholarship.

“I was never afraid to ask questions, offer concerns, or take risks,” said former student Heather Gergen ’03. “My hand was always raised in Nancy’s classes because of the supportive environment she created.”

Sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, U.S. Professors of the Year is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring. All undergraduate teachers in the United States, of any academic rank at any type of undergraduate institution, are eligible for the award. Entries are judged by top U.S. educators and other active participants in education.

The Professors of the Year were honored November 15 at a luncheon in Washington, D.C.

Bristow, who teaches 20th-century American history, has been on the Puget Sound faculty since 1990. “For students to engage successfully with the complicated and contested issues of the American past,” she says, “they must become members of an intellectual community in my classroom, a community we build together.”

She has received numerous teaching awards, including the UPS President’s Teaching Award (1999), Associated Students of University of Puget Sound Outstanding Faculty Award (2001–02), Student Athlete Advisory Council Award for Outstanding Support and Commitment to Women’s Athletics (2003), and the Alpha Kappa Psi Teacher of the Year Award (2003).

Bristow is the fourth Puget Sound professor to be named Washington Professor of the Year. Suzanne Wilson Barnett, professor emerita of history, received the award in 2002. Mott Greene, John B. Magee Professor of Science and Values, was selected in 1996. The late Robert G. Albertson, professor emeritus of religion, was the honoree in 1985, the first year of the awards. Puget Sound has had more Professor of the Year winners than any other independent college or university in Washington.