The University of Redlands Mortar Board Honor Society has named Candace Glendening as Professor of the Year. Glendening, a senior lecturer of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been teaching at the University of Redlands for nearly 17 years.
While Mortar Board members couldn’t throw their annual wine and cheese event to celebrate the award nominees and winner, they wanted to make the experience as special as possible. Hannah Albrecht, president of Mortar Board, Amy Moff Hudec, advisor for the club, and Steve Wuhs, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, surprised Glendening with the award in the courtyard outside the science center.
“I am so honored to be able to give Professor Glendening this award on behalf of Mortar Board,” Albrecht said. “Students had so many wonderful things to say about her.”
Upon hearing the news, Glendening said, “I have the best students. They don’t mind me sending them mold to work with at home for [my class] Mother Earth Chemistry. I did have to pivot this year, but my students are the reason we made it work.”
Each year the WEBS (standing for Wisdom, Excellence, Belief, and Service) chapter of Mortar Board at the University recognizes faculty members across the college who demonstrate outstanding teaching abilities and who contribute greatly to the University community. This year, the seniors of Mortar Board worked to collect nominations and voted on the winner for this distinguished prize all from home due to the pandemic.
The other finalists for the honor included Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Professor Jennifer Nelson, Religious Studies Professor Bill Huntley, History Professor Matthew Raffety, and Business Professor Vernon Stauble.
“We all know that professors must be good communicators; have a passion for, and a great deal of knowledge in, their subject area; and be effective mentors,” said Wuhs during the short celebration on Tuesday. “But the reality is that a professor needs to be so much more than that—especially during times like these. A great professor needs to be compassionate and empathetic, all while maintaining the highest of standards for students. Candy is one of those who manages to be all that and more. Her students are lucky to have her.”
In one anonymous nomination form, a student wrote:
“I hate science; it’s never been my strong suit and I have dreaded every course I’ve had to take that is science-related. But Candy changed my opinion of both biology and chemistry. She made the classes fun and informational; I actually liked doing labs; and I managed to get a 4.0 in both courses despite my grievances [with] the subject matter. … Before the pandemic started, Candy was always available by email outside of class and willing to work with and around you and your circumstances. When the pandemic started, she completely sympathized with people possibly not owning laptops or having lab supplies; she helped us finish out the semester in the most feasible way possible while still learning as much as we could. She makes her classes fun and engaging; her enthusiasm shines through in her lessons. … She spent her entire summer making lab demonstration videos and packaging lab kits and emailing students starting in fall of 2021 for spring students, so that they were aware of any updates and prepared for the upcoming semester. She has seamlessly transitioned a class entirely surrounding labs into our homes. She has been nothing but understanding and supportive during these troubling times and has also made efforts to include important topics in her classes such as race and income inequity, despite having no obligation to. I also believe she wasn’t meant to teach this course this semester but stepped up because someone needed [her] to, because she’s always a team player and helps when needed. Overall, she’s a phenomenal professor, pandemic or not, and she deserves recognition for always going above and beyond.”
A graduate of Oberlin College (B.A., Biology) and Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (B.A., Flute Performance) and Morehead State University (M.S., Biology), Glendening focuses her teaching on introductory courses for non-science majors. She enjoys designing courses that engage students in scientific concepts while learning about subjects that interest them. For example, students may learn to calculate the distance of a blood drop travels as part of learning forensic science or they may investigate the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in ground beef purchased from local grocery stores in a microbiology class.
Throughout her time at the University, Glendening has taught courses such as Genetic Engineering; Exploring Microbes: The Good, the Bad, and the Tiny; Whodunnit: An Introduction to Forensic Science; and Mother Earth Chemistry/Science. She has mentored many students, conducted research, and has turned her home studio into her online classroom (see Bulldog Blog article “Students find value in virtual May Term courses”). She is also part of the College of Arts and Sciences summer term that is being offered in June. In fact, her class filled up on the first day of registration!
This was the 63rd year that Mortar Board undergraduates honored a distinguished faculty member who embodies the group’s ideals of scholarship, leadership, and service. Mortar Board began at the University of Redlands in 1943 as a women’s senior honorary group. 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.