UNLV education professor Rebecca Mills has been named the 1994 Nevada Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Mills, an associate professor in instructional and curricular studies, joined the UNLV faculty in 1987. While at UNLV, she has taught 14 different undergraduate-, master's-, and doctoral-level courses and has been an active member of numerous professional organizations and university committees.
She has authored several teacher-oriented journal articles about her research, which is classroom based and focuses on the act of teaching, especially at the middle school level.
The Professor of the Year program, which was started in 1981, salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsors an annual national competition from which the state winners are also selected; 494 candidates were nominated for this year's U.S. competition.
Each candidate must be nominated for the award by his or her institution and receive letters of support from current or former students, colleagues, and presidents or academic deans. Judging of the competition takes place in several stages. State winners are selected in the early stages of the judging; the judging culminates with the selection of the national winner.
Award recipients were selected on the basis of the following criteria: service to students, institutions, community, and the profession; teaching informed by scholarship; impact on and involvement with students; and support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
In a personal statement she was asked to submit with her entry form, Mills attempted to describe her contribution to the field of teaching.
"My students literally fill the classrooms of our nation's schools; I can think of no more significant contribution to be made as a teacher," she wrote. "I hope that I've influenced their thinking about learning, about students, about assessment, about schools, and about themselves.
"Teacher education is the key to educational reform; if our students are challenged to rethink the purposes and methods of schooling, it is likely that schools will become better places. I hope that my students are better teachers themselves because their thinking has been clarified, their successes have been celebrated, and their voices have been heard."