The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) has selected Dr. Michael Lane, associate professor of chemistry at Emory & Henry College, as the 2012 recipient of The Hiter H. Harris, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
The award recognizes Lane for his clear and abiding commitment to the craft of classroom teaching, the teaching-learning process, and the development of each student as an individual. Lane becomes the fifth Virginia professor and the first E&H professor to win the award.
The Harris Award was created through an endowment gift from the family of the late Hiter Harris Jr., a leading Virginia banker and a member of VFIC’s board from 1973-98. It includes a stipend to support the recipient’s scholarly research and professional development activities. The Harris family endowed the award to highlight the special features of VFIC colleges and universities by recognizing faculty members “whose professional history reflects a strong, clear and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences.”
In announcing the 2012 Harris Award recipient, Tom Morris, president of the VFIC, said, “We are delighted to have this opportunity to recognize Dr. Lane for his outstanding career, one in which he has shown a clear and abiding commitment to the craft of classroom teaching, to the teaching-learning process, and to the development of each student as an individual. His work truly exemplifies the attributes for which Virginia’s small independent liberal-arts colleges are so well known, and it is our pleasure – indeed, it is our honor – to recognize him in this way.”
Lane is respected by students for his dedication to them in and out of the classroom. A widely published scholar and researcher, Lane enthusiastically involves his students with his research as he encourages them to ask and explore their own questions about science.
“I enjoy teaching because of the endless possibilities each student represents,” Lane said. “I know that doing my job well means shaping my students into independent, confident scientists that no longer ask for the answers but instead ask themselves the right questions and set about gathering data to answer them. At times this can be frustrating for students, but in the end it profoundly deepens their enthusiasm for their work, their abilities, and their contributions to the world.
A graduate of Emory & Henry with a Ph.D. from Stanford University, “Dr. Lane is an accomplished researcher, with a network of connections that extends from IBM to the University of Texas at Austin”, notes David Haney, vice president for academic affairs at Emory & Henry College. “Rather than simply asking students to meet his expectations, he helps students raise and then meet their own expectations. This happens in the classroom, in the lab, and in conversations in his office. I am confident that his students will leave Emory & Henry with the tools to succeed in an increasingly complex and challenging century.”
In receiving the prestigious award, Lane joins the four prior Harris Award recipients: Arthur H. Goldsmith, professor of economics at Washington and Lee University, Lawrence D. Hultgren, professor of philosophy at Virginia Wesleyan College, Kim Marie McGoldrick, professor of economics at the University of Richmond, and Alexander Werth, professor of biology at Hampden-Sydney College.
Lane joins a long list of E&H professors who over the last 24 years have won 14 state and national teaching awards. Among the awards given to E&H professors are seven state and national professor of the year honors from The Carnegie Foundation. Emory & Henry has been honored by this award, which is considered the most prestigious teaching award in higher education, more than any college or university in Virginia.
The VFIC, founded in 1952, is a non-profit organization which raises funds and coordinates collaborative programs to strengthen 15 leading independent colleges and universities in Virginia.