Dr. Elisa Woolridge Awarded 2021 Board of Trustees’ Distinguished Teaching Award

Kenneth Guillaume '20

March 17, 2022 — The Marist Board of Trustees has announced one of its highest annual honors, naming Dr. Elisa Woolridge, Associate Professor of Chemistry, as the recipient of the Faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching for 2021. 

“The Board of Trustees Distinguished Teaching Award is given to just one faculty member each year, and the award winner is chosen by a committee of previous winners. It is the highest honor to be awarded to a Marist faculty member. Dr. Woolridge is a leader in the Marist community and exemplifies the excellence in teaching we look for when giving this award,” said Thom Wermuth, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Upon receiving notice of the honor, Dr. Woolridge could not help but think of her colleagues and collectively what they had accomplished via modified teaching in the classrooms and laboratories during 2020-2021. “There are so many remarkable instructors here at Marist, that to have been selected was heartening, especially after one of the most challenging years of teaching given the pandemic,” said Woolridge.

 Marist has long been celebrated for the dedication and success of faculty members. In its most recent annual survey, U.S. News and World Report ranked Marist undergraduate teaching #7 overall

Joining the College in 2002, after nearly a decade as an industrial chemist, Dr. Woolridge has taught thousands of students and has mentored almost 30 research students, a majority of whom have gone on to receive further degrees in STEM fields, a vastly important aspect of Woolridge’s professional career at Marist. “To have played a role at the very start of their career trajectory is extraordinarily fulfilling and humbling,” said Dr. Woolridge.

Dr. Woolridge is more than just a professor and an incredible educator; she also is a Marist parent. Her oldest is a Marist alumnus, who graduated in 2020 with a B.S./M.S. in Software Development as part of the five-year program and was an honors student. She also has fond memories of her sons exploring the halls of Donnelly during their school holidays, when they were still quite young. “My sons loved to spend time in the chemistry lab, tinkering with pipettors and discovering the properties of dry ice, all while supervised, of course!” said Dr. Woolridge.

Dr. Woolridge feels especially privileged to be considered in high regard by fellow professors and previous distinguished teaching awardees, affirming her two decades of teaching at Marist and accomplished career. “It’s going to take some time for me to come to terms with being among those faculty that I consider to be the soul of the institution. When I think of the past awardees, well, they are master teachers! I suppose I consider this to be an affirmation of the effort that I have invested in so many years of teaching,” said Dr. Woolridge.

 While she loves all aspects of her job at Marist, Dr. Woolridge especially enjoys being in the lab with her research students. Being able to construct a hypothesis, test it, and realize a different outcome is a highlight of her professorial experience.

 “I tremendously enjoy my time with research students. We often go into the lab with an experiment that’s designed to test a certain idea, only to discover something completely unexpected. That’s just the nature of research, although the students are often surprised to learn that not all experiments yield worthwhile data. There’s no script in research,” said Dr. Woolridge.

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