Making Gumbo

Board of Governors Teaching Award Phone Call

Just after the Spring-2013 semester got started, I walked into my office on the morning of January 11, 2013.  My desk phone message light was blinking which always irritates me.  So early in the semester, this could only be one of two irritating things; a student confused about something with an obvious, on the syllabus answer, or a student wanting into one of my classes which at that point is impossible. Either way… irritating.

Rather than let it blink for hours, as I have in the past, I decided to just hear the irritating message.  I hit the button.  A voice said, “Good afternoon Dr. Nacoste.  This is Chancellor Woodson. It is my pleasure to inform you that I am forwarding your teaching portfolio to the Board of Governors as our campus winner of the Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award…”

I sat at my desk holding my head.

Chancellor Randy Woodson went on to inform me that for reasons of protocol I could not yet tell anyone that I won.  He apologized for leaving a phone message, but I knew that was unavoidable given how hard it would have been to coordinate our schedules given the demands on his time and my own schedule.  He had called during one of my classes.

Chancellor Woodson also let me know that now that he had left this message, the formal letter would be brought to me. That letter would give me the details of all that had been set in motion because I had won the highest teaching award given by the university.

A lot of stuff was about to start happening.  I was to attend and be the speaker for the luncheon at the Office of Faculty Development Teaching and Learning Symposium.  I was invited to attend the Chancellor’s Celebration of Faculty Excellence Dinner.  In front of 20,000 people I would be formally presented the award at the Spring Commencement where I would join the Chancellor on the platform along with “other” dignitaries.  And then there was the thing that caught me off guard. The letter said:

The awarding of the BOG Award for Excellence in Teaching is also celebrated by the lighting of the Belltower.

What? Really?

You have to understand.  On the North Carolina State University campus the belltower is an icon.  It is lit red only under very special circumstances; winning a basketball game, a football game, winning a national championship.  When it is lit red, students, alumni, fans of the university drive by and blow their car horns, over and over.

Now I learned it would be lit red for me as the campus winner of the BOG Award for Excellence in Teaching.  I found that to be the thing that made me giddy.  What?  Wow!


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