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Release: Oct. 15, 2002

UI Center for Teaching initiates "Thank-A-Teacher"

A shiny, red apple for the teacher has been replaced by a certificate and "thank you" letter at the University of Iowa, thanks to the UI Center for Teaching.

The center, charged with improving curriculum development and teaching, initiated "Thank-A-Teacher" as a simple way for students to say "thanks."

"It's a fairly simple way of giving good teachers a pat on the back, without involving huge effort and expense," says Wilfrid Nixon, center director, who also serves as professor in the UI College of Engineering department of civil and environmental engineering and research engineer at IIHR -- Hydroscience & Engineering. In order to use the system, students first access a web site ( and then send a message saying that a particular teacher has helped them in their work. The message is sent to the center, where a certificate and letter of thanks are printed for a faculty member or teaching assistant.

Nixon says that he got the idea while attending a Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Centers for Teaching meeting in Chicago and added that the University of Minnesota already has a similar program. "It sounded like a good idea," he says, "so I set it in motion." The CIC is an academic consortium composed of the Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago.