Monica Chiu

Excellence in Teaching, 2018

Monica Chiu

Professor Monica Chiu’s teaching philosophy revolves around the idea of challenging and elevating each student. Showing up authentically for her students, in turn, is one of the powerful ways she achieves her goals.

Here’s just one example: In one of her courses, a student kept falling asleep in the back of the room, so Professor Chiu asked to meet with him. The student explained that health issues and a hectic athletic schedule were taking a toll. Professor Chiu expressed sympathy, offered an extension on an assignment, and asked the student about his other interests and activities. He sang in an acappella group, he said. Noting his enthusiasm, Professor Chiu attended his next performance. The student beamed when he saw her. He never fell asleep in class again.

Students attest again and again to how attentive Professor Chiuis to them as individuals and how she supports their unique academic and personal journeys. One undergraduate said that Professor Chiu found the perfect balance between teacher and friend, establishing a level of trust between that allowed her to soar not only as a writer and reader but also as a person. Graduate students speak of her consistent support of their professional development. She suggests publishing options and opportunities for conference presentations, offers to edit submissions, and attends presentations in far-flung places.

Professor Chiuteaches in far-flung places, too. Through a Fulbright and other funding, she has taught at several universities in China and Taiwan, bringing her skills to bear internationally.

Back at UNH, she’s exhibited a particular commitment to diversity issues inside and outside the classroom, chairing a Ford Foundation-funded project that examined race and pedagogy, for example. Her extensive scholarship and teaching on graphic narratives examines stereotyping, especially of race.

No matter the gravity of the subject, Professor Chiu has brought levity and compassion to 20 years of teaching at UNH. “I arrive at each class with a smile and a sense of humor,” 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.