CFANS faculty inducted into Academy of Distinguished Teachers

Bernardo and Boland 2024 teaching awards
Left to right: Rex Bernardo, Michael Boland

Outstanding professors significantly shape students' experiences in the classroom. Each year, two University-wide annual award programs recognize teachers' commitment to quality education. Recipients of the Horace T. Morse-Alumni awards and the Graduate and Professional Teaching awards are inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and carry the designation of Distinguished University Teaching Professor (faculty) or Distinguished University Teacher (P&A) throughout their careers at the University of Minnesota.

Two professors from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences received these accolades for 2024. 

Rex Bernardo, faculty member in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, received a Graduate and Professional Teaching award. He has taught graduate courses in plant breeding, professional skills for scientists, and scientific writing. He has advised 26 M.S. and Ph.D. students who have gone on to successful careers in academia and industry. He wrote two textbooks that have become standards in plant breeding courses worldwide, developed software for the gamification of plant breeding knowledge, and organized short courses and workshops for the professional development of graduate students and continuing education of plant scientists. 

"Dr. Bernardo’s teaching style and his ability to distill complex quantitative genetics concepts into applicable, real-life examples in his classes and in his written text has undoubtedly opened the door for many individuals to the field of plant breeding who may have been overwhelmed by the content when presented in other, more traditional ways," said a former master's and PhD graduate in Applied Plant Sciences.

"Around the world, Dr. Bernardo’s extraordinary contribution to graduate and professional education is his authoring of two popular textbooks and one software. Based on my frequent interaction with other peers and my current assessment of plant breeding and genetics, I would claim that Dr. Bernardo’s impact on graduate and professional education at the global level is unparalleled," said a former graduate student and current plant breeding faculty member at Iowa State University.

Rex Bernardo 2024 Teaching Award
Rex Bernardo at the April 2024 award ceremony

Michael A. Boland, faculty member in the Department of Applied Economics, received a Morse-Alumni Award. He has created unique and meaningful learning opportunities for students. His courses on supply chain and economic organizations such as cooperatives, and his undergraduate research program, are consistently popular. He has successfully taught nine different undergraduate courses at the University of Minnesota. The blend of topics and discussion coupled with outside speakers provides a unique learning experience.

"As I reflect to the days of sitting in Dr. Boland’s office, dreaming about my future in agriculture, I can fully credit that his actions and the experiences that I was able to participate in because of him, irrevocably changed the outcome of my life. Dr. Boland’s unique, creative and meaningful way that he generates learning experiences for his students is different than any other professor I know," said a former AFBM student.

"Dr. Boland not only provided me with invaluable guidance but also served as an exemplary model of integrity and professionalism. His mentorship and unwavering support were instrumental in igniting my passion for further studies in the US. It is due to his encouragement that I pursued my master’s studies in the US, an opportunity that has been pivotal in shaping my trajectory," said a former master's student mentee.

Award recipients were celebrated during a ceremony held on Monday, April 8, and have now joined the esteemed ranks of the University's Academy of Distinguished Teachers.