Friday award recognizes Willis for excellence in teaching

Rachel A. Willis, Chapman Faculty Fellow and economics faculty member, has won the 1997 William C. Friday/Class of 1986 Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Willis is among several campuswide teaching award recipients who will be honored at an April dinner hosted by Chancellor Michael Hooker.

The Friday award, worth $3,000, recognizes a full-time faculty member who teaches undergraduates and who has exemplified excellence in inspirational teaching. The class of 1986 endowed the award in the College of Arts and Sciences to honor UNC President Emeritus William C. Friday, president of the William R. Kenan Jr. Fund and executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.

A colleague, writing to nominate Willis for the award, praised her teaching.

"Rachel's commitment to students, her creativity in course design and class dynamics, her energy and her ability to teach undergraduates economics by engaging them with issues that truly matter to them are all dimensions that make her an exemplary teacher," the nominator wrote.

The nominator also noted Willis' other eight awards for teaching and public service, including the 1994 Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award and the Chancellor's 1996 nomination for the Campus Compact National Public Service Award.

Willis has taught in the economics department since 1982. She specializes in the economics of workers' access to employment, focusing on education, child care and transportation, with special attention to gender and race. Other interests include academic labor markets, the economics of higher education and service- and community-based learning.

She has been a Minority Undergraduate Research Assistants Program Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and is a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies.

She has served on the advisory boards of BRIDGES, an academic leadership program; North Carolina Fellows, a student leadership development program; a.p.p.l.e.s. (assisting people in planning learning experiences in service); Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education; the Chancellor's Task Force on Intellectual Climate; and the Chancellor's Task Force on Women at Carolina. She also advises honors students in the General College.

Nominations for the award were solicited from students, faculty, staff and alumni and reviewed by a committee of students and faculty chaired by Lee McIlwain, professor of physiology. Hooker reviewed the nominees and selected the recipient.

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