UDL Advocates receive Board of Governors Teaching Awards

Two strong advocates of Universal Design for Learning have recently been given the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Emily Lenning, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Fayetteville State, and Dr. Tracy Wilson Smith, professor in the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State, both have a long history of involvement and support of the faculty development component of the College STAR program.

There is one recipient of the Board of Governors teaching award at each of 17 campuses. Each winner received a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize.

“It is so fitting that these two are being recognized for teaching excellence by the Board of Governors,” said Dr. Sarah Williams, College Star project director. “Both of them have been an integral part of our efforts to infuse the principles of UDL into courses at their respective campuses. Not only are they excellent teachers, but they have worked to help others make their courses more accessible to many different types of learners.”

Lenning has served for the past three years as the Instructional Support Director for the Bronco STAR program at Fayetteville State. She frequently teaches workshops about the principles of UDL.

“I believe that we must make our physical and virtual classrooms more inclusive by providing content in multiple formats, use a variety of techniques to foster excitement around the material and give students options in how they express what they have learned,” Lenning said. “Using these principles has allowed me to support a broader range of learners and has impacted the way I approach course design,” she continued. “As I grow as an educator, I find myself more willing to experiment in the classroom with strategies like flipping the class, utilizing team-based learning, offering hybrid courses, and taking students abroad.”

Smith has facilitated teaching-focused faculty development initiatives such as the Scholarly Teaching Academy and Course (Re)Design Institute at Appalachian, a key component of the College STAR faculty development activities at Appalachian. More than 70 courses have been designed as a result of the (Re)Design Institute, which focuses on developing courses for significant and long-lasting student learning.

Lenning earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Western Michigan University in 2002, her MA in Sociology from Western Michigan University in 2004, and her PhD in Sociology from Western Michigan University in 2008.

Smith received the Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Master of Arts in Curriculum Specialist at Appalachian State University, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Teaching at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.