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Anderson's teaching skills lauded

Oct. 28, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Dr. Mary Z. Anderson, an advisor and mentor to hundreds of graduate students and an expert in the areas of assessment, tests and measurements, will be honored by Western Michigan University with a Distinguished Teaching Award during an Oct. 30 campuswide awards ceremony.

Anderson, associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology, coordinates WMU's master's degree program in counseling psychology. She will be presented with the award Thursday, Oct. 30, when the University holds an Academic Convocation designed to recognize excellence across the campus. The teaching awards carry a one-time cash prize of $2,000 and a subsequent increase in base salary.

During the 3:30 p.m. convocation ceremony in the Dalton Center Recital Hall, these and other Universitywide awards to members of the faculty and staff will be presented. Other award winners to be honored at the event include winners of the Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Distinguished Service and Emerging Scholar awards. WMU President John M. Dunn also will use the convocation to deliver the annual State of the University address.

WMU's Distinguished Teaching Awards program was launched in 2006 to honor up to three full-time faculty members each year. Anderson will join five other faculty members honored since the new teaching award program was launched. A similar honors program, the WMU Alumni Association Teaching Excellence program, ran at the University between 1966 and 2001 and honored 131 faculty members during that time.

Anderson, a WMU faculty member since 1995, was praised by supporters for developing a new teaching curriculum to meet new accreditation requirements for doctoral students in her department, for coordinating an advanced doctoral research seminar, for integrating technology into her assessment courses and helping to develop and pilot a new teaching model for counseling practicum courses.

"Dr. Anderson's commitment and passion for teaching excellence extend well beyond the classroom and are clearly manifest in her work as an advisor, as a doctoral committee member and chair, and as a faculty member available to students within the department," wrote a colleague in support of her nomination.

A former student recounted the impact Anderson had on her academic career and Anderson's willingness to meet whenever advice was needed, even if it meant early mornings, late evenings or on weekends.

"She played a significant part in helping achieve my goal of becoming a doctoral-level counseling psychologist," the student wrote. "She is an outstanding faculty member, psychologist and mentor. I am honored to also call her friend."

Other current and former students called her generous, authentic, perceptive, nonjudgmental and "wicked smart."

"What I admire most about Mary is her ability to keep her students on track to discover their own process without imposing her own way of doing things," wrote another former student who is now a practicing psychologist. "She has a knack for finding the ways to push you in the ways that you need to be pushed that foster critical thinking and decision making as well as opening new perspectives on your own scholarship."

Early in her tenure at WMU, Anderson served for a period as director of the Center for Counseling and and Psychological Services and has served her department and college in a number of roles, including as a member of the Faculty Senate and a member of the College of Education Scholarship Committee.

Anderson earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1982, 1991 and 1997, respectively.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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