Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence

Nominate for 2022 Faculty Awards!

This award for outstanding undergraduate teaching was established in 1990 by President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg in memory of his parents. The Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching is presented annually to a tenured member of the faculty who regularly teaches undergraduate students. A $1,500 prize is awarded for professional development. Nominations are solicited from October through November. Only undergraduates may nominate faculty members for this award. Departments may then endorse nominated faculty by submitting all supporting materials to Faculty Affairs. A selection committee of faculty and students select the recipient. The recipient will be honored at the Faculty Honors Ceremony in the spring.


Award Criteria

Only undergraduates may nominate faculty members for this award; faculty must be full-time, tenured professors to be eligible. Teaching excellence is defined as “the accurate and effective communication to undergraduate students” so that they learn “important cultural, historical, or scientific material, as well as current scholarship and scholarly debates in the fields involved.” Recognition for teaching will be based upon demonstrated excellence in the following criteria:

  • Application of appropriate pedagogical principles and effective teaching practices in higher education and/or the specific discipline or area being taught.
  • Commitment to student learning and adaptation of instructional methods to differing students’ strengths, needs, and differences.
  • Use of student assignments that reflect high academic standards and expectations for high achievement.
  • Fostering a high level of student involvement and intellectual excitement.
  • Availability to students outside of regularly scheduled class times.
  • Participation in the peer review of teaching.

Please download the Trachtenberg Teaching Award Criteria (PDF) for more information.

Selection Process

The Trachtenberg Teaching Prize winner is nominated by undergraduate student(s), endorsed by the department, and then voted upon by committee. Each year, Faculty Affairs invites nominations from currently enrolled undergraduate students.

To endorse the nomination, the department is asked to submit the following supporting materials electronically as a single PDF document. 

  • One letter (1–2 pages) stating the department’s support of the nominee and addressing all of the criteria. This letter should be from the department chair or other departmental colleague with the chair's co-signature. If the nominee is the chair the letter should be from the Dean’s office.
  • Summary of teaching experience and approach (1 page).
  • Two years of teaching evaluations with comments (2–4 pages).
  • Any other supporting materials the nominee wishes to include (max 15 pages).

The submission package should be a maximum of 15 pages; materials beyond the 15-page limit will not be considered. 

*Nomination materials will not be returned*

Award winners will be selected by a committee consisting of a member of the student association, previous Trachtenberg and Bender award winners, “external” faculty who has not won either award, and a faculty senate representative. The recipients will be honored at the Faculty Honors Ceremony in the spring.


Nominations for 2021-2022 will be open from October 11th through November 29th. Submission packets from candidates endorsed by their department are due to The Office of Faculty Affairs by February 27th.

Please contact Faculty Affairs (202-994-0143; [email protected]) with any questions.


List of previous winners of the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence