Robert Foster Cherry Award For Great Teaching

August 21, 2007

Texas attorney Robert Foster Cherry, a 1929 graduate of Baylor and a 1933 Baylor Law School graduate, endowed the Cherry Chair for Distinguished Teaching and the Cherry Award for Great Teachers before he died. Teaching, he felt, was a crucial part of his Baylor education and one of the university's distinctives.
From 1991 to 2003, the chair and teaching award recognized 20 professors who, in turn, visited Baylor for short periods. In 2004, Baylor administrators and the Cherry Award committee transformed it into a biennial prize worthy of international attention. The change meant the winner would receive $200,000 with an additional $25,000 awarded to his or her home campus--the largest teaching award in the English-speaking world. 
"The Cherry Award represents Baylor's deep commitment to great teaching," says Baylor President John M. Lilley. "The award allows our students, faculty and staff to benefit from the expertise of some of the nation's best educators, instructors and clinicians."
"The Cherry committee looks, obviously, for an outstanding teacher, someone who's world-class in the classroom," says Michele Henry, a professor of music education who's served four years on the committee. "A question we ask (when reviewing nominations) is, 'Are any of these candidates superstars in their field?'"
Saint Louis University professor of philosophy Eleonore Stump was the first honored with the reconfigured Cherry Award. Armstrong edged 86 candidates to receive the 2006 award. Last spring, the Cherry Award committee narrowed the field for the 2008 award to three finalists: Pennsylvania State University mathematician George Andrews, Pepperdine University biologist Stephen D. Davis and University of Indiana at Bloomington printmaker Rudy Pozzatti.