Distinguished Faculty Award & Dr. William L. Parker Exceptional Service Award

What is the difference between the DFA and the PA?
Is any faculty member eligible for either one?
Could a counselor get the DFA?
Could a person get both awards?
Could a part-timer get one of the awards?
Who makes the selection?
How can the DFA committee select the best person among candidates from different fields?
Who can send in a nomination?
Does a nomination with multiple signatures carry more weight?
Do unsuccessful candidates need to be re-nominated each year?
Are nominations kept confidential?

1. What is the difference between the DFA and the PA?
The DFA recognizes excellence in one’s area of expertise, such as teaching, counseling, work with students, etc. It does consider good college “citizenship,” i.e. contributions to college life outside the classroom, but only as a secondary criterion. Recognizing excellence in these other contributions is the purpose of the Parker, which looks at such things as committee participation and leadership, outreach work, grant work, etc.

2. Is any faculty member eligible for either one?
No: neither award is available for starting faculty. Both require that people prove themselves over many years before being considered. DFA candidates have to have been here at least ten years. The Parker has no specific time requirement, but candidates have usually been here and active for longer than that. Neither award is a retirement present, however: both want people who are still making contributions and can serve as role models for the rest of the faculty.

3. Could a counselor get the DFA?
Absolutely. The fact that none of them has gotten it so far is due to two major reasons: there have been very few nominations (only two or three in nearly twenty years!), and it is more difficult to evaluate counselors than teachers because of the nature of their work. But this may be changing, and hopefully the DFA will in the future be able to recognize excellence in that sector as well. College Services people, however, have fared well with the Parker, getting two of its eleven awards so far.

4. Could a person get both awards?
Yes, but since there are so many worthy candidates for so few awards, the committees have so far refrained from considering people who have had or were getting the other award.

5. Could a part-timer get one of the awards?
Yes, and there have been candidates, but understandably full-time faculty have a definite edge: they have more chances of making contributions and they are better known. For this reason the Senate has created the Exceptional Adjunct Faculty Award which is specifically designed to recognize excellence among our part-time faculty.

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6. Who makes the selection?
Each award has its committee which is made up of former recipients. After evaluations and discussions, each committee makes its choice, either by consensus or voice vote. The choices are then communicated to the college president and to the Senate president, and they are kept confidential until the graduation ceremony.

7. How can the DFA committee select the best person among candidates from different fields?
It doesn’t: the DFA recipient is not THE absolute best faculty member on campus, simply A distinguished faculty. It is impossible to compare people in such different areas as, say, food services and mathematics, or people who have widely different approaches to their tasks or who have made very different contributions. So the committee has tried to recognize a variety of people in a variety of areas and for a variety of efforts. The recipient list includes great lecturers, people who have reached out to their students in exceptional ways, people who have developed tremendous programs, etc. All of them have distinguished themselves and they are exceptional role models. But they are not the only ones, and each year it is both the pleasure and the pain of the selection committee to see that this college has so many outstanding people and yet to be able to reward only one.

8. Who can send in a nomination?
Anyone, although the committees give much greater weight to nominations by faculty. The DFA used to ask for nominations by students before but with very limited success: one or two nominations a year, and it was impossible to determine how representative these were. Student opinion is better assessed through classroom evaluations, with which division chairs are usually familiar, or often through well known word-of-mouth reputations. The Parker does not request nominations, simply because candidates are usually well known in the college community by the very fact of their multiple years of public service. Still, anyone who wants to forward a PA nomination is welcome.

9. Does a nomination with multiple signatures carry more weight?
Rarely. There have been over the years a few nominations that were the result of petitions or campaigns, but they have been received rather poorly: only once did the corresponding candidate get the award and that was in spite of the petition, not because of it. The reason is simple: neither award should be, or be seen as, a popularity contest or the result of political pressure from one group or the other. The best thing one can do for a favorite candidate is to send in a well-written nomination that explains clearly why that person is worthy. A single such nomination has more impact on committee members than the best organized campaign.

10. Do unsuccessful candidates need to be re-nominated each year?
No: each nomination is kept alive for three years, so there is no need to resend it for the following two years. Still, it is quite acceptable to renew a nomination each year, especially if there are new facts to bring to the attention of the committee.

11. Are nominations kept confidential?
Yes: DFA candidates are told that they have been nominated, but not by whom, and they receive a typed letter with excerpts from the nominations but without attribution. These letters have proven very rewarding and very encouraging to the candidates who can read there the good comments and feel the appreciation of their colleagues, and thus get some of the benefits of the DFA process even if they do not get the award. With the announcement of their nomination, the candidates are also asked if they will accept the award should they be selected; some of them have refused.

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Prepared by: Jean Lecuyer
Last updated: 7/20/2009 2:21:47 PM