Richard G. Law Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching

Richard G. Law Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching is given to recognize outstanding teaching by faculty in Washington State University’s “University Common Requirements” (UCORE) general education program.

All eligible instructors are welcome to apply. Applications for the next award are due Tues., March 19, 2024. The newest recipient of the Law Award is recognized in spring.


All questions about the award of the application process should be directed to

About the Award

Honoring Dr. Richard Law’s service to the university as Director of General Education from 1990 to 2009, the award values the important role played by general education faculty across the university in helping undergraduates attain the WSU Learning Goals for undergraduates, especially outside their major area of study. Recognizing that effective leaders in all areas need to draw on a breadth of knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplinary fields, faculty receiving this award inspire curiosity and understanding of an area of study. Their classes encourage development of the lifelong learning skills of integrating and synthesizing concepts to solve real problems.

Past winners of the Law Award include inaugural recipient Theresa Jordan (History) in 2013; Clif Stratton (History) and Richard Zack (Entomology) in 2014; Jeanette Clayton Martin (Mathematics) in 2015; Ken Faunce (History) in 2016; Robert J. Cooper (Human Development) in 2017; Katherine Banks (Politics, Philosophy, Public Affairs at WSU Tri-Cities) in 2018; Kara M. Whitman (Environment) in 2019; Kate Watts (English) in 2020; Allyson Beall King (Environment) in 2021; and Tahira Probst (Psychology, WSU Vancouver) and Anna Whitehall (Human Development) in 2022; Lisa Carloye (Biological Sciences) in 2023.


The Law Award is open to all faculty (including short term, career-track, and tenure-track) on all WSU campuses whose teaching has included at least one UCORE class for the past three years (2021-22 through 2023-24). Gaps due to sabbatical leaves do not affect eligibility.

Want to suggest the name of an applicant?

If you know an instructor who would be a great candidate to apply for a Law Award, please send an email to the Law Award Committee about this person!

In your email, please briefly describe the person’s contributions to WSU undergraduate education in light of the Law Award criteria described on this page. A committee member will reach out to the person to ask if they would like to prepare and submit application materials. They may choose to ask you to write a letter of recommendation, one of the application requirements.

Application Process (including nomination of an instructor)

Completing Application Materials

All eligible instructors are welcome to apply online by the deadline. Nominations of eligible instructors may also be sent to the selection committee chair, who will then reach out to the nominee with an invitation to submit application materials by the deadline. If you are nominating a colleague, please submit your nomination well in advance of the deadline.


All application materials, including letters of support, are due using the online submissions form by 11:59 p.m. Tues., March 19, 2024. Applicants will be notified of award decisions in early April.

Application Materials Collected Using the Online Form

The online application form requires four types of information from each applicant.

  1. Basic personal and contact information.
  2. Upload of a 3-to-5-page statement explaining how the applicant addresses the Law Award criteria.
  3. Upload of an additional support document that provides evidence of the applicant’s approach to or effectiveness in teaching (this could include, for example, syllabus, assignment prompt, results of assessment of teaching and learning).
  4. Upload by the letter writer (not the applicant) of 2-3 letters of support; letter writers could be from colleagues, alumni, former students, or community members who can speak to the applicant’s effectiveness teaching UCORE classes. Letter should be uploaded online using the online recommendation submission form by 11:59 p.m. on Tues., March 19, 2024. Letter writers should submit their letters independently of the nominee.

Award Criteria

Application materials must speak to a strong commitment to the values of general education, including the following qualities of instruction:

  1. Clear focus on student development and enhancement of the skills embedded in the WSU Learning Goals in courses taught, especially for nonmajors.
  2. Emphasis on a student-centered classroom with components that actively engage students with course materials.
  3. Excellent rapport with and mentoring of students, evidencing a robust commitment to kindling their desire for lifelong learning.
  4. Evidence of desire to become a more effective instructor through use of ongoing classroom assessment and/or professional development.
  5. Evidence of strong student evaluations of UCORE course(s) taught.

A strong nomination may also include:

  1. Evidence of outstanding work with UCORE learning outcomes assessment projects/programs for the betterment of WSU undergraduate education (for example, leadership in aligning one or more courses to meet the learning goals of a UCORE designation, or departmental work with developing learning outcomes or outcomes assessment).
  2. Demonstrated ability to be an effective teacher in UCORE classes with large enrollments.
  3. Demonstrated ability to effectively work with the needs of students transitioning into university work (100-level courses) or professional situations (capstones).
  4. Effective use of technology in the curriculum and/or delivery of the course.

Application Form for a Law Award

The period for applying for Law Awards is now closed. The applications that were submitted are now being reviewed. Awards will be announced in April 2024.