Anatomy professor receives Northwestern College Teaching Excellence Award

Jolene Harris, instructor of anatomy at Northwestern College, has been named the 2024 recipient of the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award. She was honored during the college’s commencement ceremony on May 11.

The award honors full-time faculty who embody the college’s Vision for Learning in their classroom teaching. Recipients are those who have distinguished themselves in their ability to lead their students to trust, love and worship God; to engage ideas; to connect knowledge and experience; and to respond to God’s call.

Harris has taught anatomy for Northwestern’s undergraduate biology department and graduate physician assistant program since 2020.

“She can effectively explain material to freshmen all the way up to graduate-level students—that’s a sign of a great teacher,” wrote a student who nominated Harris for the award. Added another, “Her ability to connect the course material with real-world examples facilitates learning and makes discussion more interesting.”

Student nominators spoke of Harris’ care for both them and their learning. “Jolene is the most dedicated professor I have ever had,” said one. “She truly cares that every student in her courses does well, and she puts in extra effort to achieve this. In addition, in her lab courses, she does an outstanding job outlining the incredible beauty of God’s human creation.” Another wrote, “She is so positive, kind and relatable. I looked forward to her class every day.”

Harris earned a master’s degree in clinical anatomy and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Creighton University. She previously lectured in anatomy for the Ross University School of Medicine in the Caribbean and the University of Illinois Medical School in Peoria, as well as for the undergraduate and graduate programs of the University of Nebraska Omaha and Creighton University, respectively.