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Collin College Professor Named Nation's Best Professor

Collin College Professor Named Nation's Best Professor

Dr. Tracey McKenzie 2009 U.S. Professor of the Year

Dr. Tracey McKenzie
2009 U.S. Professor of the Year

Nov. 19, 2009 - Today, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named Collin College sociology professor Dr. Tracey McKenzie U.S. Professor of the Year at a ceremony in Washington D.C. The highly-coveted award is considered the pinnacle of collegiate teaching, and Dr. McKenzie's honor marks an unprecedented third national winner at Collin College in nine years.

Two years ago, developmental math professor Dr. Rosemary Karr was, like McKenzie, named U.S. Professor of the Year, and theatre professor Brad Baker secured the honor in 2000. The CASE/Carnegie competition also spotlighted Collin College psychology instructor Jennifer O'Loughlin Brooks in 2006 as Texas' top college or university professor.

"Our faculty members have established a tradition of excellence. Dr. McKenzie's U.S. Professor of the Year win exemplifies this, and it is even more appropriate that it is during our 25th anniversary year," Dr. J. Robert Collins, chairman of the college's Board of Trustees said. "We applaud all of our faculty members who excel in teaching, service and innovation in our classrooms-whether the classroom be actual or virtual."

According to college president Cary Israel, Collin College is the only community college in the country with three national winners, and only two institutions-Williams College and Kansas State University-are home to three honorees. "We are delighted that our faculty members have been recognized at this level. Dr. McKenzie brings excellence to the classroom and to every project she plays a role in planning," Israel said.

In fact, he credits her expertise in the field of learning communities, which pairs courses for joint teaching by faculty in two or more disciplines, as a factor in Collin College winning the national Bellwether Award for innovation in 2001. "Dr. McKenzie is a pillar of knowledge in learning communities. She is an energetic scholar who leads by example."

Dr. McKenzie chaired the learning communities program and directed the college's quality enhancement plan in addition to teaching in the Student Leadership Academy. She has served as African-American History Month coordinator, service-learning campus coordinator and is an active contributor to the Book-In-Common project along with New Student Orientation and the Cultivating Scholars research initiative.

"I am deeply grateful to receive this award from The Carnegie Foundation and CASE. There is no greater honor than to be recognized for my art, my passion and my purpose," said Dr. McKenzie. "My students make each day a novel and exhilarating experience. They keep me grounded, and they inspire me. It is an honor to momentarily be a part of their lives."

Students sing the praises of Dr. McKenzie as well. Nicholas Palmer, a former student who is now an attorney, said, "Professor McKenzie encourages her students to question what they know about the world, not so they will view the world as she does, but so they may build an understanding from their own perspective."

Tracey McKenzie received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Texas, where she also earned a master's degree in sociology, a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary social sciences and a bachelor's degree in English literature.

Collin College serves more than 46,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.