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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia administers the Outstanding Faculty Awards program, which is the Commonwealth's highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities.
The General Assembly and Governor created the Outstanding Faculty Awards program in 1986. Now celebrating its 37th year, the award recognizes the finest among Virginia's college faculty for their excellence in teaching, research and public service. Since the first awards in 1987, 439 Virginia faculty members have received this high honor. In 2005, Dominion made a three-year commitment to support the annual recognition of the outstanding faculty in Virginia. Dominion has since renewed its commitment, extending its sponsorship.
Since 2004, corporate sponsorship has allowed SCHEV to continue the program with monetary awards, which were originally publicly funded; the ceremony itself has always been privately funded. Over the past two decades, outstanding faculty members at Commonwealth institutions have received awards totaling more than $1.6 million via this program.
This year, 12 faculty members — including two early-career "Rising Stars" — were selected from a highly competitive pool of qualified candidates who were nominated by their peers at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities. At a celebration at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in March, the OFA recipients will each receive a $7,500 cash award underwritten by the Dominion Foundation and a commemorative engraved award.
The number of OFA nominations allocated to each institution is based upon the size of FTE student enrollment. Nominees must have a demonstrated record of superior accomplishments in teaching, research, knowledge integration, and public service. Nomination packages include an executive summary highlighting the nominee's accomplishments, a personal statement from the nominee, and descriptive and evaluative statements from students, faculty and colleagues.
Each year, SCHEV invites and encourages all public and private degree-granting institutions in Virginia to participate in the OFA program. Each is asked to use a campus-wide committee to select its nominees. Nominations are submitted to SCHEV by each institution's president or chief academic officer.
This year, a panel of peer reviewers, composed primarily of previous OFA recipients and chief academic officers and their designees, selected a group of finalists from the pool of nominations. Then a selection committee comprising members of the State Council, education, business and community leaders reviewed the finalists and selected this year's honorees.