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Congratulations to Arrel Toews, Research Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics for winning the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the highest campus-based recognition for teaching undergraduates.

Arrel Toews, PhD

The prestigious Tanner Award was created in 1952 with a bequest by alumnus Kenneth Spencer Tanner and his sister, Sara Tanner Crawford to establish an endowment fund in memory of their parents, Lola Spencer and Simpson Bobo Tanner. The award was established to recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students, particularly first- and second-year students. Nominations for the award can be submitted by faculty and students at UNC-CH with final selections made by the Chancellor’s Committee on Undergraduate Teaching. The Tanner Teaching Awards are given annually to five full-time faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching and each winner receives $7,500 and a certificate.

Announcements of this year’s winners were made during the half-time ceremony of a UNC vs. NCSU men’s basketball game on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 (which on a fitting note, UNC also won). Chancellor Holden Thorp did the honors of recognizing Dr. Toews and the other outstanding faculty educators by revealing their win and shaking their hands in appreciation of their inspirational and important contributions to teaching at UNC-CH. The official award banquet to honor the winners will occur later this spring where the winners will receive their monetary award and be presented with their framed citation.

Dr. Toews came to Carolina in 1976 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Biological Sciences Research Center. The following year, he began teaching as a research instructor in our Department (Biochemistry and Biophysics) and now as a Research Professor, Dr. Toews continues to be heavily involved in teaching both undergraduates and medical students. He serves as course director for the Introductory to Biochemistry series for undergraduates and/or students preparing for careers in nursing, dental hygiene, or other professions with human and clinical relevance. Dr. Toews serves as course director for a biochemistry course in the Medical Education Development Program which is designed to enhance the opportunities in the medical and dental professions for disadvantaged students. He also lectures in the Molecules to Cells block of instruction for first-year medical students. He maintains a position on the UNC Faculty Council and was elected in 2007 as an inaugural member of the UNC Medical School’s Academy of Educators – an honor that recognizes his excellence in teaching medical students. Last year, Dr. Toews also won a Faculty of the Year Award, an honor students of the UNC Student National Medicine Association bestowed on him with for his outstanding teaching and mentoring abilities. In short, Dr. Toews is no stranger to teaching accolades and honors, and his recent Tanner Award win is just icing on the cake.

True to form, Dr. Toews consistently receives rave reviews from his peers, colleagues, and most importantly his students. His teaching evaluations seldom if ever reveal any negative comments or feedback from his students; if anything, his students are nearly unanimous in their glowing praise and appreciation for his exceptional ability to present course material in an exciting way, but without compromising the rigors of science. All of us in the department are very proud to have Dr. Toews as a faculty member and he is most deserving of this great honor!

Previous Teaching Awards:
1996 – Johnston Undergraduate Teaching Excellence
1997 – Favorite Faculty Award (UNC Senior Class)
2003 – William C. Friday, Class of 1986 Teaching Excellence
2007 – Inaugural Member of UNC Medical School’s Academy of Educators
2008 – Faculty of the Year Award (UNC Student National Medicine Association)