To highlight the centrality of teaching excellence to student success, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is launching the MUS Teaching Scholars, an annual program recognizing teachers who have made exemplary contributions to teaching and learning at Montana University System campuses. Each year, a cohort of selected Scholars will build and facilitate faculty learning communities focused on a selected theme. The inaugural cohort of Scholars will facilitate faculty learning communities (FLCs) during Spring semester 2020. FLCs are designed to give small groups of faculty members (typically 6-10) at the same institution the opportunity to engage in sustained, meaningful conversations or scholarship about teaching and learning with supportive colleagues from across campus. Members will meet regularly throughout the length of the program as they explore areas of interest, leading to innovative changes in their teaching practice.

2019-2020 Theme

Activating General Education Through High Impact Practices

As higher education seeks innovative ways to make the college classroom relevant and transformational for students’ intellectual pursuits, future careers, and civic lives, George Kuh’s ten “High Impact Practices” continue to be useful pedagogical tools. To support innovative work in enhancing students’ first experiences in college, the Montana University System is pleased to announce that this year’s theme for the MUS Teaching Scholars program will focus on High Impact Practices (first year seminars; common intellectual experiences; learning communities; writing intensive courses; collaborative assignments; undergraduate research; global learning; ePortfolios; service learning; work-based learning; capstone projects) in general education and introductory coursework. The MUS Teaching Scholars program will recognize and support advancement of teaching and learning that use Kuh’s ten ‘High Impact Practices’ to make early coursework, and general education in particular, exciting, engaging, relevant, and impactful for students.

2019-2020 Montana University System Teaching Scholars

  • Bethany Blankenship, Professor of English, The University of Montana Western
  • Tien Chih, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Montana State University Billings
  • Christina Di Gangi, Assistant Professor of English, Dawson Community College
  • Lauren Fern, Lecturer and Student Success Coordinator for Mathematics, University of Montana
  • Rebecca Jones, Associate Professor of English, Montana State University
  • Marvin Lansverk, Professor of English, Montana State University
  • Virginia Reeves, Writing and Communications Instructor, Helena College University of Montana
  • Sara Schroeder, Instructor for the English Language Institute, The University of Montana
  • Tobin Miller Shearer, Director of African-American Studies and Professor of History, The University of Montana
  • Darryl Stevens, Chair of History and Humanities, Great Falls College Montana State University
  • Rob Thomas, Regents Professor of Geology, The University of Montana Western
  • Shannon Willoughby, Associate Professor of Physics, Montana State University

Eligibility & Expectations

All tenure and non-tenure track faculty at Montana University System campuses are eligible. The inaugural cohort of Scholars will be expected to lead a faculty learning community during Spring 2020. Scholars will also receive a $1,500 stipend. Each Scholar will receive a $500 budget to support the FLC. Scholars will be asked to:
  • Attend a one day workshop in January 2020;
  • Recruit 6-10 colleagues to join a faculty learning community in Spring 2020;
  • Identify learning outcomes for the FLC;
  • Facilitate 4-6 meetings with your FLC during Spring 2020; and
  • Attend the Fall 2020 Montana University System Teaching Excellence Conference.

Selection Criteria

  • Demonstrated teaching practices that foster deep learning, student self-reflection, engagement in academic challenges, peer-to-peer collaboration, and quality experiences with faculty.
  • Evidence of approach to teaching and learning with a spirit of student-centered learning, creativity, and continuous improvement.
  • Evidence of assessment of student learning outcomes and student experience and how assessment informs innovation in your teaching practice.
  • Potential impact of Faculty Learning Community proposal including clearly identified goals, outcomes, and impact for students.   

2019-2020 Timeline

  • January 2020 – One-Day Workshop for Regents’ Teaching Scholars
  • January-May 2020 – Monthly Meetings with Faculty Learning Community
  • Fall 2020 – Montana University System Teaching Excellence Conference (date TBA)