Nickles named Nevada Professor of the Year

11/24/2009 - By: Claudene Wharton

University of Nevada, Reno Philosophy Professor Tom Nickles has been named Nevada Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and its partner in the awards program, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Nickles is one of only 38 professors in the nation to receive the State Professor of the Year honor this year, and he is the seventh professor from the University of Nevada, Reno to receive the honor in just the past 10 years.

Only one State Professor of the Year award can be awarded annually in each state, and each state does not necessarily receive an award every year. In fact, the University of Nevada, Reno is among the top five institutions in the nation for its professors receiving the most State Professor of the Year honors, having garnered 10 of the awards.

“The Carnegie Foundation’s State Professor of the Year awards are among the most prestigious teaching awards in higher education,” Nevada President Milton Glick said. “We are extremely proud of our most recent recipient, Professor Tom Nickles. Our students have been privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from Professor Nickles for the past 33 years, and I expect that he will continue to set the bar for the quality of instruction here at Nevada for many more years to come.”

The Professor of the Year program honors “the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country – those who excel as teachers and influence the lives and careers of their students,” according to the Carnegie Foundation.

Nickles received the Nevada award at the national awards ceremony in Washington D.C. last week. Although his area of specialty is philosophy of science and technology, he says he really considers himself a generalist and enjoys “relating things from one field to another,” as he does when teaching core humanities courses and working with graduate students.

“Professor Nickles works with students not only in the philosophy department, but in many other disciplines, and at all levels,” commented Nevada College of Liberal Arts Dean Heather Hardy. “He is truly an interdisciplinary scholar. He is very deserving of this honor and is the fourth professor from our College of Liberal Arts to receive the Carnegie award in the past seven years.”

Nickles also received the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Regents Teaching Award three years ago. He said he “feels rather modest” about his Professor of the Year award, recognizing the excellence of his colleagues at Nevada, but his students clearly feel the honor is well deserved.

“He’s incredible,” said Kaleb Wartgow, a senior majoring in biology and philosophy. “He’s incredibly knowledgeable and has a unique background. He’s internationally known for some of his expertise, so it makes me feel very privileged to get to interact with him.”

Nickles enjoys that interaction with his students, stating, “Teaching is intellectually stimulating for me. When you have good students who ask good questions and make connections on their own, that’s rewarding. Just to see a student ‘get something’ is also very rewarding.”

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie, is the third-oldest foundation in the nation and the only advanced-study center for teachers in the world. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of education institutions, serving nearly 3,400 universities, colleges and related organizations in 59 countries.


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