Celebrating CSU’s Best
A teacher is…someone who inspires; someone who motivates; someone who leaves a mark on a generation. However you define “teacher,” Colorado State University has some of the best, and on March 28, we celebrated them!
Learn more about our 2023 Best Teacher Award recipients below, and stay tuned for details about next year’s nominations and the event!
Click to view a list of all past recipients (PDF).
Dan Baker (Ph.D., ’09)
Teaching Associate Professor, Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dan Baker received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Montana State University, followed by his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Colorado State University. Baker’s love for teaching was inspired by the many educators in his family, and he has taught more than 5,000 students. He is constantly working to enhance the student learning experience through engaging activities, intentional course design, and a supportive classroom environment. As a teacher, Baker is most proud of Engineering Statics: Open and Interactive, an open educational resources textbook he co-authored that receives 75,000 page views by 20,000 users per month.
“You cannot have a college without students, and Dr. Baker puts his first. He never fails to provide us with all the tools and resources we need to succeed. Dr. Baker inspires me to be patient, curious, open-minded, and confident in my ability to pursue engineering.”
– Delaney Dunlop, sophomore (’25)
Anna Bernhard, M.L.I.S., M.Phil.
Director, Stanley G. Wold Resource Center and Library, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Art and Art History
An academic librarian and archivist with a passion for the way we communicate and process ideas and information, Anna Bernhard received her B.A. from Bates College, her M.Phil. from Trinity College Dublin, and her M.L.I.S. from the Pratt Institute. She directs the Stanley G. Wold Resource Center and Library at CSU. In 2021, she co-founded the Center for Artists’ Books and Inclusive Narratives. Her recent academic research focuses on the vibrant world of book arts. Bernhard believes being a part of students’ efforts to better understand their world and how they fit in it is a very special job.
“From her constant engagement with student success to her incredibly decorated achievements as a curator, Anna Bernhard is the pinnacle of what commitment to CSU and its students looks like. I loved learning from someone who is intimately educated with the content and just as excited about the work.”
– Katrina Clasen, senior (’22)
New Belgium Brewing Sponsored CSU Fermentation Science and Technology Instructor and Brewmaster, College of Health and Human Sciences, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Fermentation Science and Technology
Jeff Biegert began his brewing career in Boston in 1992 and graduated from the 75th Diploma Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. He’s been brewing in Colorado since 2000, including 21 years at New Belgium Brewing, where he’s focused on research and development, process optimization, and continuous improvement. A CSU teacher since 2012, Biegert transitioned to a full-time role in 2018 and manages the two on-campus breweries, teaches, and mentors student interns. His favorite part of teaching is seeing the surprised look on students’ faces when they realize the beers they create and produce are actually quite good.
“Jeff has developed a truly experiential course of study for his students. By the time they finish the program, students are able to see so many different systems and approaches to the industry. They are ready to enter the workforce with few adjustments and a commitment to detail and joy.”
– John Wilson, graduate student (’23)
Paulo R. Borges de Brito
Paulo R. Borges de Brito (M.S., ’10)
Adjunct Faculty, College of Business, Department of Management
Paulo Brito earned a B.S. in economics from the Presbyterian Mackenzie University in his home country of Brazil, an M.S. in environmental science from the Universidade de Sao Paulo, and an M.S in agricultural and resource economics from Colorado State University. He has organized and contributed articles to two award-winning books broaching the subject of social, economic, and environmental synergies for sustainable development, and his current research focuses on the business opportunities created by the bioeconomy. As a teacher, Brito focuses on listening and inclusion to create opportunities that allow marginalized students and communities to succeed and thrive.
“Professor Brito is always willing to help his students and demonstrates an enthusiastic attitude toward teaching. He is always available for his students, made us want to keep learning as much as possible, and was the best teacher I ever had in college.”
– Maria Velazquez Marin (B.S., ’21)
Chris Henle (M.S., ’98; Ph.D., ’01)
Professor, College of Business, Department of Management
Chris Henle received her Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Colorado State University. Her research has been published in many academic journals, including Academy of Management Journal, and her main focus is counterproductive work behaviors. She teaches human resource management courses and is an adviser of the student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. As a first-generation student, Henle had little understanding of how college worked, but the teachers she encountered changed the course of her life and helped her become the educator she is today. Teaching is most rewarding, she says, when you are able to influence a new generation of professionals.
“Professor Henle is 100 percent committed to CSU and, more importantly, its students. Seeing a woman who has so much real-life experience inspired me to continue in this field. I look up to this professor and how Chris has helped me create the building blocks for a future career. ”
– Cayla Begley, junior (’24)
Associate Professor and Area Coordinator of Printmaking, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Art and Art History
Johnny Plastini received his B.A. in interdisciplinary studio art from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his M.F.A. in printmaking from the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University. Plastini employs sustainable printmaking, papermaking, and book arts processes to meaningfully link the arts and sciences together. His current research interests focus on symbiotic lichen ecosystems across the globe that offer a compelling example of how other ecosystems could evolve into a more mutually beneficial state. Plastini’s approach to teaching removes the convention of the professor as an authoritarian and empowers student agency through equity and inclusion.
“Johnny has always been one of the most compassionate, empathetic, and innovative instructors I’ve ever worked with, and he is dedicated to developing all areas of study in printmaking at CSU. He always challenged me and gave me the critical feedback I needed. That brought out the best in me.”
– Andrew Meyer (M.F.A., ’18)