The University of Redlands Mortar Board Honor Society has named Rebecca Lyons as Professor of the Year. Lyons, a chemistry professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been teaching at the University of Redlands for nine years.
“This is such an amazing group of people to be a part of—I look around at my fellow educators and I’m honored to stand with you,” said Lyons, who attended a Feb. 12 reception with other award finalists. “More than anything, my students are amazing. I love them, and it’s really great when it’s reciprocated.”
The Professor of the Year distinction recognizes faculty members’ outstanding teaching abilities and important contributions to the University community. Finalists for this year’s honor included Mathematics and Computer Science Professor Joanna Bieri, Biology Professor Linda Silveira, Theatre Arts Professor Trevor Norton, and Biology Professor Caryl Forristall.
“Being a teacher in the College of Arts and Sciences is a noble calling,” said Associate Dean of Student Engagement David Schrum at the event. It is noble to assist students in the liberating joy of discovering knowledge that restructures how they see the world. It is also noble to help students take the beginning steps in a profession that will provide lifelong satisfaction.”
A graduate of University of Washington (B.S., biochemistry), the State University of New York College at Cortland (M.A., science education), and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (M.S., Ph.D., environmental chemistry), Lyons teaches nine courses in chemistry, including a May Term course in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
“She works every day to not only ensure that her students are prepared for the rigor of graduate-level work in chemistry, medical school, or work in research fields, but she also makes connections that keep her students feeling seen and loved,” said Jacob Miner ’20, president of the Associated Students of the University of Redlands.
Throughout her time at the University, Lyons has mentored over two dozen students and co-authored a number of publications and presentations alongside students.
Chemistry Club President Jared Cellini ’20 spoke about how Lyons’ mentorship has enhanced his experience at the University of Redlands. Recalling a group hike that she led, he explained that her passion for science and the environment is felt by all of her students.
This was the 62nd year that Mortar Board undergraduates honored a distinguished faculty member who embodies the group’s ideas of scholarship, leadership, and service. While the Mortar Board Honor Society facilitates the voting process, any student can nominate a professor for the award.
Mortar Board began at the University of Redlands in 1943 as a women’s senior honorary group, known as WEBS, Wisdom, Excellence, Belief, and Service. In 1955, it became recognized as an official chapter of the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society, and, in 1975, membership was opened to both men and women.