URI honors Niels-Viggo Hobbs with first part-time faculty excellence award

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Niels-Viggo Hobbs
Biology instructor Niels-Viggo Hobbs of Providence has been awarded the first Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Photo by Michael Salerno.

KINGSTON, R.I. — June 11, 2018 — The Office of the Provost at the University of Rhode Island honored Biology Instructor Niels-Viggo Hobbs of Providence with the first Part-time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

The award honors part-time faculty whose work is exceptional. “It’s an award about teaching excellence. The award is meant for someone who is a well-rounded teacher, good in and out of the classroom, and a good advisor,” said Matthew Bodah, interim vice provost for academic personnel and budget, who chaired the committee that chose Hobbs for the award.

Hobbs began his teaching career in 2003, and since then he has inspired countless students in the field of biology. Hobbs is an expert on invertebrates and marine communities in New England, and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency. Hobbs has been described by members within the University community as a fantastic teacher, and received overwhelming support from colleagues and students for his nomination.

“Niels was the perfect candidate in many ways,” Bodah said. “He’s hands-on, taking students out into the swamps for specimen research. This award is for people who developed good relationships with students, in the classroom or even online, but give more than just instruction. They are available and can form good relationships with students.”

One of the students in his class, Biology of Algae, described in his nomination how his career path changed entirely after taking a class with Hobbs.

“I had no previous experience or knowledge of algae, but Niels’ enthusiasm and commitment to the class quickly made it my favorite, and it remains my favorite class I’ve taken at URI to this day,” said the student. “He changed my career path, because as I get ready to graduate, I am determined to find a job researching algae as a sustainable fuel source, for food, and a component of plastic. This is a passion derived from Niels’ class.”

Hobbs was honored with a cash prize, a luncheon and was recognized at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Bodah encourages faculty and students to submit nominations once the award is announced early next year.

“The part-time faculty play a critical role in the instructional program of the University,” Bodah said. “People like Niels and many others are also working in their chosen field and teaching, spanning two worlds. They are able to bring in their experience from outside of the University into the classroom.”