News Release from AASCU


Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665


WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2011) — In recognition of outstanding leadership in teacher education, Black Hills State University (BHSU) has been named the 2011 recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The purpose of the award is two-fold: to recognize excellence in teacher education programs and to advance the field of teacher education by identifying promising practices and critical issues related to measuring the impact of programs on teacher candidate knowledge and the impact of these teachers on pupil learning.

This year the Christa McAuliffe Award recognizes Black Hills State University for an outstanding professional development program called Project PRIME (Promoting Reflective Inquiry in Mathematics Education). Working closely with Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS), Black Hills State University has had a profound impact on the teaching and learning of elementary mathematics in South Dakota.

Jolanda M. Westerhof, AASCU's director of teacher education, whose office oversees the award process, said, “The Christa McAuliffe Award recognizes exemplary models of teacher preparation that link program design and professional development to K-12 pupil learning outcomes. Black Hills State University has designed a model of professional development in mathematics that has produced significant and compelling gains for elementary students. This example of an outcomes-based professional development model is one that universities and K-12 districts can look to as they respond to the demand to demonstrate teacher impact on P-12 learning and achievement.”

The national award, created in 1987, was named in honor of the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 Challenger disaster. McAuliffe received her bachelor’s degree from Framingham State College (Mass.) and her master’s degree from Bowie State University (Md.), both AASCU member institutions.

“AASCU institutions prepare more than half of all teachers licensed to teach each year in the United States, and teacher education continues to be a critical concern for member institutions and the association,” said Westerhof. The 2011 Christa McAuliffe Award will be presented during AASCU’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, October 25, in Boston, Mass.

“Historically, state colleges and universities have enriched our country by serving as ‘stewards of place’ for their communities, not only delivering on the American promise of student access, affordability and educational opportunity but also by honoring a legacy of service, creating community building opportunities ranging from economic development to school reform,” said Muriel Howard, president of AASCU. “This survey confirms that ours are publicly engaged institutions, that our members are enriching the communities they serve, rooting their importance in the American infrastructure. This year AASCU celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving as a leading advocate for and partner with state colleges and universities. As we look to the next 50 years, the partnerships between our members and their communities will be even more crucial as both seek to effectively meet 21st century challenges.”


AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.