Best Teacher Awards

Great Teachers Change the World

The CSU Alumni Association's Best Teacher Awards program recognizes faculty who have made a significant impact on their students. Past nominations have included reasons faculty have changed the lives of their nominators, as well as stories about the importance of the preparation, support, guidance, and academic challenge that a Colorado State teacher has provided.

Each year, nominations are submitted by students, faculty, and alumni, and are reviewed by the selection committee. Comprised of students, alumni, and faculty and staff, the selection committee selects up to six award recipients.


Awardees and their nominators are invited to the Best Teacher Awards banquet March 27, where the award recipients are honored. Registration is required and will open early February.

Wednesday, March 27, 5:30-8 p.m.
Lory Student Center Theater
500 University Ave., CSU campus, Fort Collins

Nomination Guidelines

Nominations are now closed for the 2019 awards. If you have questions about the program, 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

Renée Harmon (Ph.D., ’17) received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Western Illinois University and a master's degree in communication from the University of Missouri – St Louis. She completed a Ph.D. in education and human resource studies with a specialization in education sciences in 2017 at CSU. Her research focuses on sustainability education and literacy, adult education, online education, and nontraditional teaching and learning methods. For the past three years, Dr. Harmon has assisted Dr. Kathleen Galvin at the CSU Africa Center. She also volunteers at the United Way of Weld County as a senior team leader for the Community Collective Impact Fund and as a member of the Refugee Collaborative Committee.

Susan Opp, Ph.D., is a pracademic who focuses on questions of local sustainability, economic development, and urban affairs in her research, teaching, and community service activities. Since receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Louisville, Dr. Opp has served as the director of a NASPAA accredited M.P.A. program, graduate programs coordinator, internship director, and in a variety of other public service-related work. Her research has appeared in a number of academic and professional outlets, including Urban Affairs Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, Economic Development Quarterly, and Local Environment, to name a few. She is also the author or editor of three books, including one printed in 2013 as part of the ASPA series on public administration and policy.

Dean Hendrickson, Ph.D., D.V.M., (’88) received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1988, and completed an equine surgery and medicine internship at the University of Sydney in Australia in 1989. He was accepted into and completed the three-year combined large-animal surgery residency and Master of Science program at Cornell University in 1992. Dr. Hendrickson became a faculty member in the Department of Surgical Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August 1992, then joined the Department of Clinical Sciences at Colorado State University in December 1994. He has served as the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital director and associate dean for the D.V.M. program at CSU. His primary clinical interests are in equine wound care and minimally invasive surgery, and he’s spoken nationally and internationally on both subjects. Currently, Dr. Hendrickson is developing e-books for student notes that will serve as a resource in their veterinary careers.

Frank Smith joined the College of Business Department of Finance at Colorado State University in 2013. Previously, he was an associate professor of finance and the director of the Ross Whipple student-managed fund at Henderson State University. He earned a Ph.D. in finance from Texas Tech University; an M.B.A from Chapman University; and a B.S. in engineering from the Air Force Academy. Dr. Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force pilot training system and flew in the U.S. Air Force until 1991. A Gulf War veteran, his last Air Force job included overseeing daily operations of 104 aviation professionals and $1 billion in assets. He has won four teaching and three research awards in his 12 years of teaching. His research includes 25 published articles in several national publications and  a book, Optics in the 21st Century, How to Compete (1997). Dr. Smith’s areas of interest in research include asset pricing, market microstructure, options financial modeling, and exchange-traded funds.

Stephanie A. Malin is an environmental sociologist specializing in natural resource sociology, governance, and rural development, focusing on the community impacts of resource extraction and energy production. Her main interests include environmental justice, environmental health, social mobilization, and the socio-environmental effects of market-based economies. Dr. Malin serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, where she teaches courses on environmental justice, water and society, and environmental sociology. She is also the author of The Price of Nuclear Power: Uranium Communities and Environmental Justice and has published her research in journals such as Environmental Politics, the Journal of Rural Studies, and Society and Natural Resources. Her work is supported by grants through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Rural Sociological Society’s Early Career Award, and the CSU Water Center’s Faculty Fellowship. She completed a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University after earning her Ph.D. in sociology from Utah State University.

John Straayer received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and joined the Colorado State University faculty in 1967. He chaired the Department of Political Science from 1972 to 1987 and served on the Governing Board as the faculty representative and on Faculty Council and its Executive Committee. Professor Straayer supervised the department’s legislative internship program for nearly 40 years, guiding more than 1,000 students through the program. For many, the internship has been instrumental in launching their careers. Straayer’s scholarly and instructional interests are in legislative politics and Colorado politics. The most notable of his many books is The Colorado General Assembly, published by the University Press of Colorado in 1990 and 2000. His awards include the Oliver P. Pennock University Distinguished Service Award, Liberal Arts John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award, Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award, and multiple commendations for distinguished service from the Colorado General Assembly.