Awards honoring outstanding leadership and service to the College will be presented May 30, 2015, during Reunion Convocation. Read about the other award recipients.
Cheryl Foster, of Wakefield, Rhode Island, and a member of the Class of 1983, has been honored by the Bowdoin College Alumni Council with one of two 2015 Distinguished Educator Awards.
The award was established in 1964 to recognize outstanding achievement in education (teaching or administration) by a Bowdoin alumnus or alumna in any field and at any level of education.
Foster, who graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with the highest departmental honors in philosophy, has led a teaching career marked with prestigious awards and national recognition.
After Bowdoin, Foster earned a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, where she also taught courses in moral philosophy. In 1992, she returned to the U.S. and settled in the philosophy department at the University of Rhode Island, where she helped lead the university’s honors program and established the National Scholarship and Academic Opportunity Office, through which she assisted students applying for prestigious fellowships and promoted educational enrichment opportunities for first generation college students.
Empathy, access and new learning are the themes of Foster’s life. “By continuously putting myself in the position of being a student of new subjects or skills, I insure a steady supply of empathy for my students, for whom my old particular subject feels startlingly new,” she says.
“Good teaching takes imagination and involves the risk of failure; a capacity to put ourselves in the student’s chair, in order to prise open access. Access permeates everything I do — making ideas, opportunities, and social structures legible in service to equity.”
Foster has won many honors for her work with students, including the 1996 University of Rhode Island Foundation Teaching Award, an American Philosophical Association’s Teaching Award Citation in 1998, and the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising in 2008.
In 2013, she was named Rhode Island Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and additionally received the national Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award, one of only seven educators nationally to be so named.
The Distinguished Educator Awards will be presented Saturday, May 30, 2015, during Reunion Convocation.