GV honors Robin Spring with excellence award


Photo left to right: Christine Rener, FTLC Robin Spring. Maria Cimitile, Provost Photo Credit: Steve Damstra

Mackenzie Keller, Staff Reporter

Grand Valley State University is an institution that puts its students first. Teaching excellence is something that the university puts great pride into, so it only makes sense to award those professors who go above-and-beyond on behalf of their students.

On Feb. 11, GVSU hosted the 2019-2020 Faculty Awards Convocation Ceremony. Assistant Professor Robin Spring was awarded the Pew Teaching Excellence Award for her phenomenal work at GVSU.

Though she has been a professor for the past 15 years, Spring became a full-time tenure track assistant professor in 2014. She has just recently started the process of tenure and promotion review.

The Pew Teaching Excellence Award is not an easy award to win. In order to qualify, the professor must be nominated by their department and pass through several rounds of judgement from the College level. After passing through their college, in Spring’s case the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), the nominees are forwarded to the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, who select the recipients.

Nominees are informed of their nomination and allowed to work to demonstrate why they should receive the award. It is a months-long process with a lot of waiting in between steps.

Spring was informed of her nomination at the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester, but has been preemptively preparing her materials since the summer. She was informed of her finalist status in January.

Getting recognized for an award at the convocation ceremony is a tremendous honor with such steep competition.

Courtesy / GVSU

It feels wonderful to be recognized for all the effort I put into my teaching,” Spring said. “There are a lot of really great professors at GVSU, so to be recognized among them is quite an honor.” 

The Pew Teaching Excellence Award is based on specific criteria including: multiple approaches in classroom instruction and evaluation, stimulates intellectual curiosity in students, and demonstrates commitment to student learning as instructor, role model or positive influence on career development of students.

The GVSU FTLC describes Spring as “innovative and energetic, and her courses incorporate design thinking and team-based learning. Of significance is her stellar leadership of the National Student Advertising Competition team, earning regional and national recognition.”

Along with Spring, six other faculty members were honored with the Pew Teaching Excellence Award. The recipients come from a variety of departments, including: engineering, accounting, chemistry, geology, english, communications (Spring) and psychology.

 “I just really enjoy working with young people and I think they know it,” Spring said. “I enjoy making a difference in their life if I can.  And I truly believe in the value of a strong Liberal Arts Education. Grand Valley delivers that model of education that develops the whole self, but in the end, it’s all about the people that make that happen.  In my opinion, there’s no better job in the world.”

Spring enjoys trying out new teaching styles and believes that being transparent with students allows for more understanding in the classroom. Every student learns differently and she hopes that she can teach them new ways to learn.