CHESS Faculty Member Terry Shirley Jr. Named University Teaching Excellence Award Winner; Two Finalists From CHESS Recognized

Terry Shirley Jr., associate chair and senior lecturer in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences in the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences, has earned the 2022 UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence.

“Teaching at UNC Charlotte is truly a privilege — allowing me to mentor students, share my passion about weather and the environment and work with my colleagues to support students in their journeys,” said Shirley.

Shirley and the recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, Adriana Medina, associate professor of reading and elementary education in the Cato College of Education. were honored during a ceremony Dec. 5 at the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.

Shirley’s Enthusiasm Engages Others

Shirley is passionate about teaching and mentoring, the field of meteorology, advocating for students and supporting his colleagues. It seems each one of the 400-plus students he teaches are positively impacted by his classes and the care he extends toward each individual. 

“Terry Shirley’s dedication and passion for teaching is infectious, making all around him excited to learn,” said Deborah Thomas, interim associate vice chancellor for research and previous department chair. “His dedication to UNC Charlotte students is inspiring and his contributions to the teaching mission of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences and the broader University are extensive. These efforts in combination with the stellar reputation he has among students and his contributions beyond the classroom truly illustrate why he is so deserving of this award.”

Terry Shirley Jr. (holding award), gathers with colleagues who attended the ceremony to honor him.

Shirley’s three-pillared teaching philosophy includes connecting with students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, experiential learning and teaching beyond the classroom. He fulfills this philosophy by valuing and encouraging differences in students, conducting hands-on, real-world classroom applications and preparing and connecting students with professionals to help position them for career excellence.

“Teaching, mentoring, watching students grow and develop and advance in careers, knowing that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life — whether that’s small or big — is what I love most about coming to work every day,” Shirley said. “Work does not feel like work when you’re inspiring young people and tapping into their passion for learning. I come to campus each day with the hope that I make a difference in their lives.”

Finalists Also Honored For Excellence

Also recognized were four award finalists, including two from the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences: Linda Shanock, professor, psychological science and organizational science, finalist for the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence; and Carol Higham, senior lecturer, history, finalist for the UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence.

Shanock strives to create a supportive learning environment so that students of all backgrounds and ability levels feel they can voice their views, make contributions to class discussions and grow in their confidence with the material. 

In her role as program director for the industrial/organizational psychology master’s program, and in her previous role as associate director of the interdisciplinary Organizational Science program, Shanock has engaged in numerous one-on-one mentoring activities with students. 

Higham is highly regarded by students and colleagues alike for her approach to teaching difficult historical subjects in a way that is engaging and results in open debates and discussions. 

To support this inclusive environment, Higham employs a teaching philosophy to “create a safe, inclusive space where students can practice expressing and defending ideas that may be new to them and allow them room for failure and recovery.” This philosophy is shaped from the concept of learning more from failures than successes.

The two other finalists were Moutaz Khouja, professor, operations management, Bank of America award; and Cheryl Kane, senior lecturer, management, UNC Charlotte award.

Both the UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence and the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence are prestigious traditions at Charlotte. Each fall, faculty are nominated, finalists chosen and one recipient for each award is recognized. 

The UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence honors full- or part-time non-tenure track faculty members who have at least five years of teaching service at UNC Charlotte (lecturers and adjunct faculty). Eligibility for the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, first presented in 1968, is for full-time, tenured faculty members with at least seven years of service to UNC Charlotte.

Top Photo: Bank of America representative Steffany Hajek from left, with Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber, from left, award recipient Terry Shirley and Provost Joan F. Lorden.