Weber recognizes professors’ excellency

Weber State University President Brad Mortensen explained to English faculty professor Sarah Vause that she won the Presidential Teaching Excellence Award.

It’s Presidential Awards season, and Weber State University President Brad Mortensen surprised students in Sarah Vause’s American Literature class by awarding the professor with the Presidential Teaching Excellence Award in front of the class on Jan. 19.

The Presidential Teaching Award is a unique award in that students nominate their professors. A few months prior, students are asked via announcements in their emails what professor they think exemplifies teaching at WSU.

Up to 12 awards are given to faculty throughout the different departments and colleges within the university. Per the dean’s office, another recipient in the College of Arts and Humanities was Jessica Greenberg, associate professor of theatre lighting.

At this time, not all of the award recipients have been announced.

Award recipients receive a $5,000 cash award or the same amount in unrestricted support, which can be used to purchase equipment or materials for the classroom.

Vause has taught at WSU for 18 years. Teaching runs in her family, as her father Mikel Vause has been a professor of English for many years as well.

“When I took a job here, my dad had one piece of advice: ‘Don’t embarrass me and ruin my good news,’” Vause said.

She is not only an English instructor at WSU, but also the co-director of the annual National Undergraduate Literature Conference, which occurs on campus every year. NULC is a conference that brings prolific authors to Weber State’s campus and allows students to present their creative and non creative works to their peers.

According to Deborah Uman, the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, this nomination was a long time coming.

“I nominated her and immediately called out for student voices,” Uman said. “President Mortensen really values student voices. Within an hour and a half, I got over half a dozen responses praising Sarah Vause.”

Although Vause’s contributions to NULC and long tenure contributed to her nomination, it was her intimate and caring teaching style that has earned her recognition.

“She takes such care in the creation of her courses,” Uman said. “Her courses are also very inclusive in the writers she curates. She is a treasure and thrilled that she gives so much of her energy and knowledge to students at Weber State.”

Just as it was a surprise to the American Literature class in attendance, this award was just as much a surprise to Vause.

“I had no idea I was nominated,” Vause said. “I cannot believe it. I have been here for 18 years. It is great that people recognize what you do.”