Patricia McSweeny McCauley Chair in Teaching Excellence

The Patricia McSweeny McCauley Chair in Teaching Excellence was created in 1993 to encourage research on and excellence in teaching in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. In 2007, the Chair was combined with the CHASS Distinguished Teaching Award as the senior recipient of that award.

Chair holders must possess:

  • Credentials of the highest standards
  • Recognition for excellence in teaching
  • The rank of full professor (except under "extremely unusual circumstances")
  • An appointment in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
  • A background in teaching and research

Candidates are nominated by their department and selected by a subgroup of the CHASS Executive committee. The Patricia McSweeny McCauley Chair holder serves for one year and receives a $5,000 stipend. In addition, the honoree gives an annual lecture on aspects of teaching and offers a seminar for undergraduates (The McCauley Chair's home department receives course replacement costs for the "CHASS Seminar" at the prevailing lecturer rate.) Remaining funds from the annual income of the endowment (on average, $6,500) are used for technological upgrades that further the research mission of the College and are determined in concert by the McCauley Chair, the winner of the junior Distinguished Teaching award (if any at the time) and the CHASS Dean.


The CHASS Teaching Awards committee consisting of three members will report the selection to the CHASS Executive Committee by specified deadline. Recipients must be members of the Academic Senate.  The selection will be based on the overall teaching record, with special attention given to the last three years.  In addition to classroom-related evidence, curricular innovations and other pedagogy-related service outside the classroom should be taken into account.  The quality of teaching should have paramount importance.  The size of candidates' classes should not determine whether they are considered for the award.


Based on past recipients of the McSweeny McCauley Chair, the nomination process should begin a month prior to the CHASS due date.  Ideally, any senior faculty person should consider which of the full professors would be a suitable nominee for the McSweeny McCauley Chair in Teaching Excellence, and oversee the preparation of the packet. Alternatively, the Chair of a Department might consider which faculty would be deserving of the award and either oversee the preparation of a nomination packet or designate someone or a committee to do this for the nominee.

The most effective packets include the following:

  1. Letters of nomination by three senior faculty members familiar with the nominee’s teaching. These faculty need not be from the same department, but they should have direct knowledge of the nominee’s teaching.
  • Taken together, these nomination letters might discuss the following:
    • What courses the nominee has taught for the past three years.
    • The nominee’s curriculum development (e.g., new courses, course redesigns, new upper division of graduate specializations, collaborations with faculty in other departments or programs)
    • Which of the courses are core to the Department’s major or contribute to other programs or departments’ majors
    • How the nominee’s pedagogy articulates with the Department’s and university’s educational missions
    • The nominee’s involvement in mentoring undergraduate and/or graduate students (e.g, supervising senior or Honors theses, professional development of younger people, PI on grants involving student researchers)
    • How the nominee’s in-class and out-of-class pedagogy articulates with valuing diversity in the production of knowledge.
    • Any community outreach dimensions of the nominee’s pedagogy.
  1. Student evaluations for courses taught over the past three years. A brief discussion should be provided, in a chair letter or one of the nomination letters, of the patterns across courses shown in these evaluations.
  2. Letters of support by past or current students. These should be solicited by the departmental person or committee organizing the file. These can include alumni who worked with the current or past graduate students, and/or undergraduates who have completed courses with the nominee. There need not be many of these letters – 3 are sufficient—but ones that discuss specific contributions to the students’ growth and intellectual development would be most helpful.

If you have questions about the nomination process, Christine Gailey (McSweeny McCauley Chair 2013-2014) will be glad to talk with you. Email: christine.gailey@ucr.edu

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