Gay Nardone

Excellence in Teaching, 2015

Professor Gay Nardone with students

Gay Nardone is one of very few faculty members anywhere to teach students suspended 20 feet over her head during class. An innovative and dedicated teacher of dance for over 30 years, Professor Nardone works with students in the air and on the ground to help them develop their skills and creativity in jazz, tap and aerial dance, one of the first programs of its kind in the country when she created it more than 10 years ago.

Many of Professor Nardone's students have gone on to successful careers in dance and a range of other fields. Many tell us what an important mentor Professor Nardone was to them, including Jennifer Lee, the academy-award winning writer and director, who credits Professor Nardone with nurturing her creativity.

Professor Nardone's success is a result of her passion for both dance and people. She looks for the unique abilities in each student and finds joy in helping each find the right tools to conquer challenges at UNH and beyond. It's that one-on-one, big-picture dedication that makes her a force in the classroom and in the lives of her students. And forceful she can be, especially when it comes to punctuality. "Walking in the door at the required time is not being on time," she reminds her students. "As a dancer you should be there much earlier to warm up. It is also disrespectful to treat someone as though your time is more valuable than theirs. Furthermore, it doesn't take any talent to be on time," she sternly lectures her students, "and it can cost you a job if you're not." Notwithstanding, one very talented student was consistently late to class, until one fateful day. Getting his city feet wet at a weekend dance class in New York City, the student arrived five minutes late. The teacher promptly chased him out of the studio yelling "Get out! Get out!" The student returned to UNH chastened, and Professor Nardone was, frankly, happy. "It's nice to be proved right sometimes," she says.

About This Award

Each year, the University selects a small number of its outstanding faculty for special recognition of their achievements in teaching, scholarship, and service. Awards for Excellence in Teaching are given in each college and school, and University-wide awards recognize public service, research, teaching, and engagement.