UNC Professor of Oceanography Bill Hoyt of the College of Natural and Health Sciences was selected as the recipient of the 2011 M. Lucille Harrison Award, the university's top faculty honor. The annual award recognizes a faculty member with a distinguished career in teaching, professional activity and service.
Hoyt joined the faculty of UNC's Earth Sciences department in fall 1981 while he was finishing his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Delaware. During his first year of teaching at UNC, which then offered courses on a quarter system, he had seven different class preparations involving about 800 students.
Since then, he's taught six different courses in oceanography and 10 different geology and earth science courses. He's also taught one-time field geology and oceanography courses in 15 off-campus locations that have included Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Belize. Plus, he's taught or co-taught numerous Honors Program courses and Life of the Mind interdisciplinary courses.
He also served as director of the School of Chemistry, Earth Sciences and Physics from 2005-2008 and as chair of the Earth Sciences program from 1999-2005.
Hoyt's evaluations by students and peers have consistently been excellent, according to NHS colleagues Paul Nutter and Cynthia Galovich, who co-nominated Hoyt for the Harrison Award.
"It is quite obvious that faculty colleagues respect Dr. Hoyt's professionalism, and that students value his teaching and guidance," they said in their nomination letter. "His actions and demeanor are inspirational and his efforts in furtherance of UNC's mission on multiple levels have been exceptional."
They also noted that students' evaluations of his teaching cite his extensive knowledge, enthusiasm and genuine interest in their learning.
In her letter supporting Hoyt's nomination for the award, UNC alumna Jennifer Bailey paid tribute to his expertise in the classroom when she wrote, "His lectures were so enjoyable that I would find myself telling other people in my life all about what we have learned in class each day."
Hoyt's belief that practical field experiences that use the tools of the trade are essential to students' education is evident in the 20-foot long barge he designed and built as a research vessel for aquatic studies on Colorado lakes and reservoirs. Funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the barge is still going strong after 20 years, and has served as the platform from which approximately 2,000 UNC students have conducted biological, chemical, physical and geological studies.
Although still active in marine geology research, his focus since 1991 has been on earth systems and providing professional development for K-12 science teachers through $5.5 million in grants from funding sources that have included the Natural Science Foundation, NOAA, EPA and NASA.
Hoyt has been an officer for many state, regional and national professional organizations, and currently serves as secretary of the Poudre Learning Center and chair of the Friends of Union Colony Schools.
In a letter supporting Hoyt's nomination for UNC's top faculty award, Ray Tschillard, director of the PLC, summarized Hoyt's impact on his profession and the many people he's influenced over the years.
"… in my 35 years as a professional Science educator, he is one of the top professors I have had the honor to work alongside," Tschillard wrote. "There is no doubt; Bill is an extraordinary educator, but even a better person to all that come in contact with him."
Hoyt will be presented with the Harrison award during UNC's undergraduate commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at Nottingham Field.
- Fiza Johari
Bringing Education to Life, Hoyt Style
Hoyt's science background was evident when he provided five sensory-appealing tips on how to support UNC's slogan: "Bringing education to life."
1. Sight - Have a vision of where you are going and what your goals are.
2. Hearing - Listen to your surroundings and the people around you.
3. Smell - Recognize a pitfall when you approach one and make sure to avoid it.
4. Taste - Experience life and all the richness that comes with it.
5. Touch - Aim to make a difference, not only for yourself but also for others.
For more about the M. Lucile Harrison Award, including a list of past recipients, visit the Provost's website.