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New Dean is one of the world’s greatest teachers

Media release

A passion for delivering innovative teaching practices has landed Curtin University’s new Dean Teaching and Learning Science and Engineering a chance at winning the largest teaching award in the English-speaking world.

Professor Teri Balser is one of three finalists, the only one from Australia, in the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. Designed to honour outstanding professors who are distinguished for their ability to communicate as classroom teachers, the award has a personal prize of $US250,000 plus $25,000 for the winner’s university.

For Professor Balser, a soil science researcher and 2010 CASE/Carnegie Foundation U.S. Professor of the Year, the key to creating a climate that is conducive to people doing their best work is to innovate teaching practices through an integrative landscape.

“I want science and engineering to be known as a place where quality, engaged teaching happens,” Professor Balser said.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, it is important to recognise an individual’s strength as a teacher and allow them the space to express that.”

Curtin Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education Professor Jill Downie said attracting an educator of Professor Balser’s calibre to Curtin was evidence of the University’s commitment to foster innovation throughout its teaching practices.

“Not only do we strive to provide first-class content for our students, but also to deliver that content through innovative, modern teaching practices,” Professor Downie said.

“Having such a dynamic educator as Professor Balser at Curtin adds strength to this commitment and a very valuable resource to our teaching stable.”

Professor Balser comes with an impressive CV including 10 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and most recently, the University of Florida where she became the first female dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She said Curtin was an exciting and forward-thinking institution.

“The job-description was the perfect fit, the University’s strategic plan is exciting and I fell in love with Perth and Curtin,” Professor Balser said.

Professor Balser will travel to Baylor University in Texas, United States, next week to deliver a public lecture on 6 October, the final step in the adjudication process.


 Note to Editor:


  • The Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching was created by Robert Foster Cherry, who earned his A.B. from Baylor University in 1929. He enrolled in the Baylor Law School in 1932 and passed the Texas State Bar Examination the following year. With a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, he made an exceptional estate bequest to establish the Cherry Award program to recognize excellent teachers and bring them in contact with Baylor University students. The first Robert Foster Cherry Award was made in 1991 and has since been awarded biennially.
  • Further information about the award can be found online at