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Botswana Blackburn wins Governor’s award for Excellence in Teaching

May 2, 2022

April 28, 2022 

Botswana Blackburn, associate chair and teaching professor in the Department of Health Sciences, is the 2022 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.  

Presented by the Office of the Provost, this award is given to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in the state, based on these criteria:  

  • Effective teaching and advising 
  • Service to the university community
  • Commitment to high standards of excellence
  • Success in nurturing student achievement  

Dr. Blackburn’s nominators for this award include School of Health Professions Dean Kristofer Hagglund, faculty colleagues and mentors, and former students.  
“Dr. Blackburn is compassionate and caring with an intense drive to nurture her students into becoming patient-centered, well-rounded health professionals and leaders,” wrote former student Eboni Acoff in her nomination letter. “Though her class was challenging and time-consuming, it was obvious that she saw the potential in each of her students and ensured that we not only lived up to her expectations of us, but that we also lived up to our own.” 

Dr. Blackburn has a student-centered philosophy of teaching, which she grounds in a belief that faculty and students should be equal partners in learning. 

“Dr. Blackburn’s instruction elicits a recognition from students that what they are learning matters,” Dean Hagglund wrote in his nomination letter. “They begin to appreciate how they will be able to use their knowledge and abilities to improve the health and well-being of other people. This recognition begins their transformation from students to health care professionals.”  

In addition to her student-centered teaching philosophy, Dr. Blackburn is an innovative educator. She was an early adopter of flipped classroom and culturally responsive pedagogy. She was also an initial adopter of open educational resources, which saved Health Science students more than $33,000 the first semester after implementation. 

Dr. Blackburn’s open-door policy draws students from across campus for mentoring and advice. Students from underrepresented groups, in particular, seek her out. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Dr. Blackburn was instrumental in reinstating the chapter at MU and continues to advise members. 

“During my time on campus there have been very many influential women that have played a role in my life,” wrote one former student in 2019. “From the first interaction I had with Dr. Blackburn, I knew she was instantly going to be someone I looked up to. The way she carries herself with constant elegance and grace is something that I will forever strive for. During my time on campus, I have been able to gain lifelong tools from her as well as confide in her. Even though she may not know it, Dr. Blackburn has seen me through some low moments in my life but always pushed me to continue forward and remain positive. From the advice, laughs, and tears I have shared with Dr. Blackburn, I will always cherish our moments together. I will forever be grateful for having Dr. Botswana Blackburn in my corner.” 

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Botswana Toney Blackburn

Botswana Blackburn

Health Sciences Department Chair and Teaching Professor