One of the nation's best Dr. William Richardson, chairman of the department of political science and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at USD (left) watches as President James Abbott presents Dr. Elizabeth Smith with the 2004 South Dakota Professor of the Year award. by David Lias Formally, she's known as Dr. Smith.
It's not unusual, however, for her colleagues and students at The University of South Dakota to simply call her Betty.
In her six years at USD, Dr. Elizabeth T. "Betty" Smith has done much more than strike up a friendly rapport with students and other faculty members.
She has also demonstrated that she is a great teacher. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) have named Smith the 2004 South Dakota Professor of the Year.
She was recognized for the achievement at a dialogue entitled "Increasing the Challenge" held Wednesday, Dec. 1 at the Neuharth Media Center.
Smith was selected from among nearly 400 top professors in the United States.
The honor is awarded to only one professor in each state. The awards were announced Nov. 18 during a ceremony in Washington, DC.
"The program was begun in 1981 recognize undergraduate teachers and, of course, their great teaching," USD President James Abbott said.
Both national and state winners are chosen on the basis of their extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching based on:
* impact on and involvement with undergraduate students.
* scholarly approach to teaching and learning.
* contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession.
* support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
"By any criteria, Professor Smith is absolutely at the top of her form in any of those areas," Abbott said, "and we are so very pleased that she has won this very deserved award."
Smith is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the department of political science and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership. Prior to joining the USD faculty, she was a visiting assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Connecticut where she taught in the master's of public affairs program.
Before that, she served for two years as a visiting instructor in the government department at Clark University,
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teaching American government and politics. Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Connecticut in August of 1998.
"Professor Betty Smith is a truly gifted teacher and dedicated mentor of students who richly deserves this prestigious honor," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chairman of USD's department of political science.
Smith also possesses a rich professional experience outside of the classroom, having worked as a VISTA volunteer, a Wall Street financial analyst and a chief administrator for both a mayor and congressional district office before coming to South Dakota.
"Outside the classroom, (while at USD) she has run acclaimed leadership development programs in local communities and successfully mentored several Truman Scholars," Abbott said. "I can't think of a more appropriate recipient of the Carnegie South Dakota Professor of the Year Award."
Gov. Mike Rounds also declared Dec. 1 "Professor Elizabeth 'Betty' Smith" day in South Dakota through an official state of South Dakota proclamation.
The proclamation states: "Whereas the quality of life and the scope of opportunity for many future citizens of South Dakota will be determined by the quality of teaching in the classroom?it is fitting and proper to recognize and commend Elizabeth T. Smith, Assistant Professor of Political Science at The University of South Dakota, upon being named the 2004 South Dakota Professor of the Year."
CASE established the Professors of the Year program in 1981 and the Carnegie Foundation became the co-sponsor a year later. TIAA-CREF became the primary sponsor for the awards ceremony in 2000.
Additional support for the program is received from the American Association of Community Colleges and other various higher education associations.
This year there are winners in 45 states and the District of Columbia. CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected four national winners and the state winners.
Smith expressed her gratitude for being part of an institution that cares about teaching.
"When I did my national search a little over six years ago looking for my academic home," she said, "I was searching for a place that cared about teaching, and I want you to know that of all the universities with which I interviewed and which offered me jobs, this was the only one that throughout the interview process made it clear that excellent teaching is required.
"It made it very, very easy (to come to USD)," Smith said. "It was not a difficult decision for me to make. I've never looked back, and I've never been sorry."
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie "to do all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of teaching."
The foundation is the only advanced-study center for teachers in the world and the third-oldest foundation in the nation. Its nonprofit research activities are conducted by a small group of distinguished scholars.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of educational institutions, with more than 3,200 colleges, universities, and independent elementary and secondary schools in nearly 50 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.� Representing these institutions are more than 38,000 professionals in the disciplines of alumni relations, communications, and fund raising. Additional affiliates include educationally related nonprofit organizations and commercial firms.