Just Wins Top UI Teaching Award

Monday, April 7, 2008

Craig Just, adjunct assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate faculty research engineer at IIHR--Hydroscience & Engineering, is one of four UI faculty members who have won the University's 2008 President and Provost Award For Teaching Excellence in recognition of their years of outstanding teaching.

Just has taught as an adjunct assistant professor in the UI College of Engineering since 2002 (and previously, in his role as laboratory manager, participated significantly in mentoring of graduate students). As an instructor and faculty advisor, Just works with students who aspire to address human development issues in resource-poor nations, from a perspective of sustainable engineering. Students in his 2007 course "Design for the Developing World," for example, capped their consideration of the real-world problem of water purification by designing an electrolytic chlorine generator. Students in the 2006 class formed a nonprofit organization, Continental Crossings, and raised $20,000 to design and build a footbridge in Peru. Each spring, Just assembles a team of students and guides them in choosing and executing a project that addresses a critical need in the developing community of Xicotepec, Mexico. Students praise Just's encouragement of creative thinking and his emphasis on building effective teams by taking advantage of individual strengths. Faculty from around the university appreciated his generosity in sharing his skills, resources and connections as they seek to incorporate service learning into their own curricula and emulate his example of providing what they called a "transformative learning experience."

The award, which is administered by the UI Council on Teaching, was created in 2004 as a university-wide recognition for faculty members who have demonstrated a sustained, high level of teaching excellence. This year, the council added an additional award for lecturers. Each college may nominate up to three tenure track or clinical track faculty members and up to two lecturers or visiting or adjunct faculty members for the award, which carries a $3,000 prize. Nominees submit a statement of their teaching philosophy along with a curriculum vitae highlighting teaching activities and letters of endorsement from current and former students and colleagues.