Nancy Baker, 1983 Carlson Award Winner, Health and Exercise Science Department

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by

1983 Carlson Award Winner, Nancy Baker, Health and Exercise Science Department

Nancy Baker

Today’s ceremonies focus attention on the graduating class of 1983, which is as it should be. It is also proper to shift that attention for a few moments to the faculty, who have shared the past four years with the seniors assembled here. At this point in the program, then, we come to the presentation of the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Established in 1971 by the Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College, this award honors Edgar M. Carlson for his many years of outstanding leadership as president of this college. Each year, students, faculty and administrative personnel nominate a member of the Gustavus faculty to receive the award -which carries a stipend of $1,500 – on the basis of distinguished, effective and innovative teaching. The selection process occurs in private, and until its announcement at graduation the selection remains one of the best-kept secrets on campus. This year, it is my pleasure to present the Edgar M. Carlson Teaching Award to Professor Nancy Baker of the Department of Physical Education, Health and Athletics.

The name of Nancy Baker is well-known to people associated with Gustavus Adolphus College within the past twenty years. During that time in her capacity as coach of the women’s gymnastics team, Nancy has achieved a national reputation. She has inculcated in her students more than a facility in the mechanics of gymnastics; she has opened their eyes to its aesthetic dimensions, as well -and she has known success. Since 1959, when Nancy began her teaching career at Gustavus, she has directed women’s gymnastics teams to numerous state titles and to high-ranking finishes in national competition, including a national championship in 1982. A number of Gustavus gymnasts have earned All-America status under her tutelage. In recognition of her accomplishments, Gustavus Adolphus College awarded Nancy a Distinguished Alumni Citation two years ago, and this past year the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches honored her as Coach of the Year. That her peers have great respect (if not awe) for what she does is evident.

To be sure, masterful coaching requires expertise in certain teaching skills, and Nancy Baker has proven to be a masterful coach. But Nancy’s qualifications for the Carlson Award do not rest merely, or even primarily, on her abilities as a coach. A great deal of her efforts actually are devoted to the area of teacher education. Graduates of her classes and programs hold positions in schools across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. With her as exemplar, these students have learned the fundamentals of good teaching. Professor Baker’s teaching, writes one undergraduate, manifests “a wide diversity of teaching techniques, [which) shows that she comes well-prepared and ready to teach.” Indeed, a faculty colleague remembers her extraordinary class preparation for a team-taught course some years ago. It is clear, moreover, that Nancy understands that superior teaching involves a blend of head and heart. Allow me to quote once more from one of her students: “The hour …each day [in Professor Baker’s class] is spent with a professor who cares for her students, and that [feeling] rubs off on us, as we prepare to be teachers.”

What have we, then, in the person of Professor Nancy Baker? We have an individual who has the respect of students and colleagues alike; who is recognized as an authority in her field; who presents to her students the model of a teacher who is thoroughly prepared, knowledgeable, innovative, and caring. We have someone deserving of the award which we present today.

Nancy, on behalf of the students, faculty and administration of Gustavus Adolphus College, it is my great pleasure to present to you the Edgar M. Carlson Teaching Award for 1983. Congratulations.

Presented by Kevin Byrne
Associate Professor of History
1982 Recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award


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