Best Teacher Awards

About the Program

The Colorado State University Alumni Association recognizes outstanding Colorado State University educators each year with Best Teacher Awards.

The teachers are nominated by students and alumni and are selected by a committee comprised of faculty, students, and members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.


Best Teacher Awards Dinner

Current awardees and their nominators are invited to the Best Teacher Awards program where the award recipients will be honored.

Wednesday, April 26, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Lory Student Center Ballroom, CSU campus, Fort Collins

Registration coming soon!


Nomination Guidelines

Nominations are now closed for the 2017 awards. If you have questions about the program or submission form, please contact the Alumni Association at (970) 491-6533 or

Nominated teachers/professors must be current Colorado State University faculty/staff members. Selections are based on complete nomination forms that demonstrate the specific examples of how the teacher/professor influences students inside the classroom and beyond, and how the teacher/professor demonstrates a commitment to CSU.

Additionally, please note:

  1. Past Best Teacher Award recipients are not eligible. See a list of past recipients.
  2. Incomplete and/or vague nominations will NOT be considered.
  3. The quality of nominations will take precedence over the quantity of nominations for a particular teacher/professor.
  4. Nominations may be shared with nominees (after awards program has taken place), relevant departments, and/or the media.

Contact the Alumni Association at (800) 286-2586 or

Denise Apodaca

School of Music, Theatre and Dance
College of Liberal Arts
Watch video

Denise Favela Apodaca received her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a Master of Music degree in piano performance and a second Master of Music degree in piano pedagogy from Northwestern University. She graduated with honors from both universities. She has been on numerous teaching faculties and has performed throughout the United States both as a soloist and as a chamber artist. Apodaca has been an adjudicator for several music teacher’s associations and has given workshops on piano technology, piano pedagogy, performance, music education, Latin American music, and early childhood music. She currently serves on the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County and was a member of the executive committee for Beet Street in Fort Collins. Apodaca is currently Piano Proficiency Coordinator, teaches Piano Skills for Music Therapists, Piano Skills for Music Educators, and Music Appreciation at Colorado State University.

Ray Black, Ph.D.

Ethnic Studies
College of Liberal Arts
Watch video

Ray Black is an assistant professor of ethnic studies focusing on African American studies and has been at Colorado State University for just over two years. He is interested in the African American experience in the United States with a primary academic focus on representations of Black life in the slave narratives and other nineteenth century documents. His current scholarly research is on how current students of color succeed in higher education. Dr. Black has taught early childhood education (Head Start), been a coordinator for a nonprofit program seeking to keep young men of color in high school, and led campaigns for reform-minded school board candidates. He follows the lesson of one of his teachers, “All students are flowers. Some take longer to bloom.”

Marisa Bunning, Ph.D. (Ph.D. '07)

Food Science and Human Nutrition
College of Health and Human Sciences
Watch video

Marisa Bunning is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Her teaching, research, and outreach efforts are focused on improving food safety all along the food chain. Current projects include best practices for growing and handling fruits and vegetables to ensure safety, consumer food preparation practices, and local food system issues. One of the favorite parts of her job is mentoring graduate and undergraduate students in the development and delivery of outreach education materials. Dr. Bunning is a collaborator with the Colorado Integrated Center of Excellence in Food Safety, the Western Regional Food Safety Training Center, and currently serves as the co-leader of the Animals, People and the Environment concentration in the Colorado School of Public Health.

Chuchang Chiu

Languages, Literatures and Culture
College of Liberal Arts
Watch video

Chuchang Chiu is the senior teaching appointee for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. She grew up in Taiwan and received a B.A. in journalism from Chengchi University in Taiwan in 1979. She received a Masters of Arts from the University of Minnesota, and taught at Colorado College and the Foreign Language Center in Colorado Springs in the 1980s. She also held various positions at Hewlett Packard in Oregon in the ‘90s. Chiu has been teaching all levels of Chinese courses at CSU since 2003 and is the Chinese Club’s advisor. She received the APACC Outstanding Teacher Award in 2012 and the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007.

Tod Clapp, Ph.D. (B.S. '96, M.S. '99, Ph.D. '04)

Biomedical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Watch video

Tod Clapp received a Bachelor of Science in biology, Master of Science in anatomy, and his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, all from Colorado State University. He now serves as an assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He’s received numerus professional accolades, including the Colorado State University Excellence in Education Award, the Outstanding Academic Advising Award in Graduate Education, and the Lisa Marie Craft Memorial Graduate Scholarship for exhibiting career promise in teaching. Dr. Clapp has served as honor’s thesis advisor and committee member for many students and is a member of the Teaching Academy of the Consortium of West Region Colleges of Veterinary Medicine, the American Association of Clinical Anatomy, and the Association for Chemoreception Sciences.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D.

Animal Sciences
College of Agricultural Sciences
Watch video

Temple Grandin is considered one of the world’s top experts in two areas: animal welfare and autism awareness. Dr. Grandin received her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and now teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design. It’s difficult to overstate her contributions to the livestock industry. Her autism allows her to think in pictures and that ability has made her a visionary in her field. Her insights into animal behavior shaped innovative approaches to livestock handling, including methods and designs for humane slaughter that have become the industry standard. In 2010, TIME Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Her life story has also been made into an HBO movie, which won seven Emmy awards and a Golden Globe.