Best Teacher Award winners honored at celebration

Zara DeGroot

Dressed in their Sunday best, students, teachers and faculty members enjoyed a catered dinner in

Colleen Meyer, the executive something  (Photo credit: Zara DeGroot)
Colleen Meyer, the executive director of the Colorado State University Alumni Association, welcomes the audience and introduces the Best Teacher Award winners.
(Photo credit: Zara DeGroot)

celebration of the 2015 Best Teacher Award winners in the Lory Student Center Theatre Monday night.


Mark Fiege from the Department of History, Karen Gebhardt from the Department of Economics, Marie Legare from the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Brenda Miles from the School of Social Work, Eric Milholland from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Raoul Reiser from the Department of Health and Exercise Science accepted the student-initiated award.

The Best Teacher Awards is hosted by the Colorado State University Alumni Association. Eighty teachers and professors were nominated by students, alumni, faculty and peers throughout the 2014-2015 school year. After a selection committee reviewed each candidate, the six winners were announced in early April.

“It’s not an easy job to select, but certainly very rewarding,” said Colleen Meyer, the executive director of the CSU Alumni Association.

According to Meyer, teachers are making alumni relationships with their students. She said that is a reason to honor the work that is happening in the classroom.

“(When) I’m out there meeting with alums, they always talk about the professors they’ve had who have impacted their (lives),” Meyer said. “We just feel it is really important to recognize our professors and our teachers for doing that.

Jeff Miller, a hospitality management professor, was the winner of the Best Teacher Award in 2007 and attended the ceremony in comradery with his fellow faculty.

“To win the respect of your students, there’s nothing nicer,” Miller said. “Nothing’s more meaningful to me.”

Mark Fiege, a history professor and winner of the Best Teacher Award, gives his acceptance speech. (Photo credit: Zara DeGroot)

In attendance was Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice-president at CSU. He said he has been coming to this event ever since he became the dean of College of Natural Sciences in 2002.

“Our faculty across the whole University are deeply committed to undergraduate instruction,” Miranda said. “We too often don’t recognize them as much as we should. The best teacher award is really driven by students.”

According to Miranda, faculty across the University celebrate the teachers who won this award.


“This is someone we want to pay attention to, someone we want to emulate, someone we want to show to the other faculty,” Miranda said. “It is a way for us to highlight that kind of excellence.”

Three of the recipients are CSU alum: Reiser, Gebhardt and Milholland. Gebhardt said in her acceptance speech that it is a testament to how these individuals care about their family at Colorado State.

The winner’s acceptance speeches were directed toward the students who nominated them.

Gebhardt said she revels in her students’ accomplishments and tries to ease their burdens — that is what makes her job worthwhile.

Miles said she appreciates the opportunity of involvement she has with her students.

“I come away learning a great deal from my students,” Miles said. “I’m grateful to be a part of their lives.”

Collegian Reporter Zara DeGroot can be reached at or on Twitter at @zar_degroot