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Nominations for Elsie M. Hood Award due March 1

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The Elsie M. Hood Award is one of the University of Mississippi’s most prestigious teaching awards, based on a lifetime’s worth of commitment to excellence in teaching, helping students and researching.

Recipients receive a $5,000 check from Chancellor Dan Jones and a personalized plaque. The winner will also speak during the Honors Day ceremony in April, and his or her name will be engraved on a plaque in the J.D. Williams Library.

The 2011 award winner was English professor Ethel Young-Minor.

Kelly Wilson, the 2010 Hood Award winner, is the chair of the selection committee, who is the winner of the award the year before. The rest of the committee is made up of eight faculty members who were previous winners, plus the Associated Student Body president and a member of the UM Alumni Association.

The Hood Award was started in 1966 and has been given every year since then. The award used to be $500 and was presented to the first recipient, German professor William Eickhorst, under Chancellor J.D. Williams.

Wilson said the number of nominees varies each year, but the winners of the Hood Award are usually the names that come up multiple times. An eligible professor must not have won the award before, and the committee chooses by considering teaching evaluations and materials, letters from students and sometimes even letters from years before.

“The selection committee looks for candidates who have been nominated in multiple years, so each recipient has an ongoing history of impressive teaching,” said Daniel Mattern, a chemistry professor. “It also means that if a professor you nominate is not selected that year, your nomination letter stays active and is re-read when that professor is nominated again.”

Mattern was a Hood winner in 1992 and has served on the committee.

Psychology and pharmacology professor Kenneth J. Sufka has been serving on the committee since he won the Hood Award in 1996.

“Why would a student not nominate one of their outstanding professors?” Sufka said. “Think of that teacher who has shown enthusiasm and passion for their subject, a love for the art of teaching and a deep concern for student success. These are the people that absolutely make a difference in your life. They care about you. Let that faculty member know how much you valued him or her.”

Each nomination letter should explain why a student is choosing the teacher and include examples.

“It makes it hard for us to choose if someone sends in a letter and says, ‘Oh, this person is great. She’s such a great teacher,’ but doesn’t give us any examples of how she is a great teacher,” Wilson said. “Tell us why he or she will take the time to help or go the extra mile.”

Wilson was at home doing research when he got a call from the chancellor about the award.

“I cried when I heard the news,” he said. “At first I was getting a call from the chancellor and I was so nervous — I thought I was in trouble or something. I was very surprised, completely surprised. I love teaching very much, but there’s so many faculty — most of them are outstanding teachers that go unrecognized.”

Mattern urges anyone who has had an exceptional professor at Ole Miss to write a nomination letter for the Hood Award.

“This is a form of ‘thank you’ that only you can give,” he said.

The deadline for students to submit nominations is March 1.

Students can nominate teachers by logging into MyOleMiss, www.olemiss.edu/hoodaward, by emailing the chancellor at chancllr@olemiss.edu or by mailing a letter to Chancellor’s Office, University, MS 38677.