The University of North Carolina has recognized Laura Wright, a professor in WCU’s English Department, as one of the top teachers in the system, naming her among 17 recipients of UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching for 2018.
Wright said her 13 years of teaching at WCU – alma mater of her father, Charles B. Wright ’60 – has provided her with an opportunity to work with and mentor students at all levels and in a wide variety of courses, from first-year composition classes to graduate seminars. She said she has maintained a philosophy that no matter how much distance is apparent between herself and her students – chronological, aesthetic or political – she plans to always view them as “complex people with real-life sets of circumstances that shape them as scholars and as individuals whose life experiences inform the work they do in the classroom.”
She regularly receives praise from former students who say her discussion-based classes challenged and enriched their ideas and principles. They also speak about the lasting impact she has had on their lives, with one student commenting, “In one semester, Laura Wright helped me to understand how the world functions, as well as my place in it.” Another former student recalled when Wright served as his thesis adviser. During one “particularly rough patch,” she met with him and bought his breakfast early one morning. “The act of sharing a meal with her while talking through my thesis issues was such a powerful human moment for me that I still get emotional remembering it 10 years later,” he said. “Dr. Wright doesn’t just teach students – she pays attention to people and their needs.”
Wright and other recipients of the UNC honor, representing an array of academic disciplines, were nominated by special committees on their home campuses and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure. Winners receive a commemorative bronze medallion and $12,500 cash prize. Established by the Board of Governors in April 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the university system, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus.