Trey Adcock receives 2024 Board Of Governors Excellence In Teaching Award representing UNC Asheville

Press release from UNC Asheville:

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has selected 17 outstanding faculty members to receive the 2024 Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Trey Adcock, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, international studies, and the director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, is the 2024 recipient for UNC Asheville.

“He embodies what we value most in teaching at UNC Asheville. His dedication to students is central in his teaching philosophy and in his work in and out of the classroom,” said Kelly Biers, associate professor of languages and literatures and chair of the UNC Asheville Teaching Awards Committee.

“He is a champion of critical and decolonial pedagogies, masterfully implementing them in his student-centered classes and continuously updating his own knowledge and practices while challenging others to do the same,” Biers added.

Adcock’s teaching strategies include integrating digital storytelling options, organizing his courses using the “chunking” method that allows students to absorb a greater range of interconnected topics, and, above all, fostering a respectful classroom that encourages curious explorations of perspectives outside students’ initial assumptions.

Outside of the classroom, Adcock mentors students in research and community-engaged scholarship through projects like the Stories of the Snowbird Day School. He is also integral in maintaining UNC Asheville’s relationship of respect and duty toward the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

“He tirelessly works to extend the critical lens beyond his own classroom, bringing to light the very real issues facing Indigenous communities and resisting the curricular narratives that reinforce colonial attitudes,” Biers said. “This work is essential not only to our mission but to academia. We are all better teachers for it.”

Adcock regularly seeks additional training via opportunities like the Paideia Program and the Culturally Relevant Mentor Training hosted by the Indigenous Leadership Institute. These efforts to center Indigenous voices and methods in his teaching have an incalculable impact on students whose cultural heritage and history previously went unrecognized.

In the nomination letter, a former student writes, “For the first time in my life I felt seen by course material in a Western academic program. I truly cannot put into words the reverberating effect that having this type of instruction, and the support from a Native faculty member, has had on my life.”

The UNC System Board of Governors Award is now in its 30th year. Established by the Board in 1993 to highlight the importance of teaching, the award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of faculty members System wide. Recipients are nominated by special committees at each institution and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs.

“These extraordinary faculty members have dedicated their lives to teaching and are committed to lifting up their students to become the next generation of leaders for North Carolina and the nation,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey. “We are grateful for their service and congratulate them on these awards.”

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