The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy has recognized two outstanding faculty members as Educator of the Year for 2020. The honorees are chosen by the graduating PharmD class in an end-of-year vote in which students are asked to consider a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in classroom teaching by engaging students and providing sound foundational knowledge in the human health sciences. The graduating class selects educators in two categories: clinical science and basic science.
Christopher J. Edwards, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science, was named Educator of the Year in Clinical Science. Dr. Edwards specializes in emergency medicine pharmacotherapy, and also practices at Banner University Medical Center – Tucson.
“The class of 2020 was my first class as a faculty member, and I could not have asked for a better group to learn from and grow with. I look forward to seeing the amazing things this incredible group does with their careers,” Dr. Edwards said. “In addition to having great students, I also feel fortunate to have such amazing mentorship at the College of Pharmacy. Many thanks to everyone who gave me pointers and answered my silly questions, and to all the guest lecturers who made my class more exciting. I am honored to be a part of such an awesome team.”
Richard R. Vaillancourt, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology, was named Educator of the Year in Basic Science. Dr. Vaillancourt’s lab focuses on the regulation of MEKK4 by the growth factor heregulin, which activates the HER2/HER3 receptor signaling pathway that is critical in some forms of breast cancer.
“As an educator, I know how my education transformed my life. Along the way, there were a few noteworthy professors who made a difference in my education. I’d like to think I could do the same for my students,” Dr. Vaillancourt said. “The Basic Science Educator of the Year Award is a special recognition because there are some really good professors in College of Pharmacy, but a note from a student that says, ‘I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your lectures, and also how you provide real-life examples that help me tremendously,’ really touches my heart. That’s when you know you’re making a difference.”
College of Pharmacy criteria for the Educator of the Year award include an evaluation of teaching effectiveness based on factors such as motivation, communication skills, knowledge of subject matter, organization and relevancy of course material. The college also considers scholarly activities related to teaching, such as the development of innovative and creative teaching methods, publications, development of computer-assisted instruction and development of experiments for a teaching laboratory.