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NC State’s Atkinson Wins UNC System Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Maxine P. Atkinson, professor of sociology and head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University, has been honored with an Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors.

One educator from each UNC system campus wins the award, which comes with a prize of $7,500 and a bronze medallion.

The Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching is the most prestigious award given to faculty for teaching excellence and was created in 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and encourage, recognize and reward outstanding teaching. Nominees for the award must be tenured professors who have spent at least seven years at the nominating institutions and who have “demonstrated excellent or exceptional teaching ability over a sustained period of time.”

Atkinson joined the NC State faculty in 1980. She has been an advisor for more than 600 undergraduates, and served on panels for more than 50 theses and dissertations. Atkinson has also served as a teaching mentor for 15 students.

“NC State has a unique mission as a research university with a commitment to provide an education that focuses on the skills of discovery,” Atkinson says. “My job is to construct diverse opportunities for learning, to ask questions rather than providing all the answers, to challenge rather than to dictate. We train students for jobs but we educate them for personal growth and community engagement. This current economic crisis reminds us of the serious consequences of having an educated population equipped to make ethical decisions and reasoned judgments.”

As a recipient of the prestigious teaching award, it should come as no surprise that Atkinson has done extensive research on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her research also examines the sociology of the family and gender, with a focus on the economic relationship between spouses, and aging – particularly the relationship between adult children and their parents.

Atkinson earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, her master’s degree in sociology from Georgia State University and her doctoral degree in sociology from Washington State University.