Three exceptional educators at CU awarded high honors

Excellence in teaching, scholarship, research earn designations as President’s Teaching Scholars

April 17, 2014

DENVER – Three faculty members from across the University of Colorado system have been named 2014 President’s Teaching Scholars, each recognized as an educator who skillfully integrates teaching and research at an exceptional level.

The title of President’s Teaching Scholar signifies CU’s highest recognition of excellence in and commitment to learning and teaching, as well as active, substantial contributions to scholarly work. CU President Bruce D. Benson solicits annual nominations of faculty for the designation, which is a lifetime appointment.

New scholars this year are:


Lisa Keränen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Communication, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver)

Helen Norton, J.D.
Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Colorado School of Law, University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Raphael Sassower, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)



Keränen specializes in studying and teaching the rhetoric of medicine, health care and bioethics. As Director of Graduate Studies in Communication, she also teaches the introduction to graduate study seminar for her department. She has authored numerous publications, including an award-winning book, “Scientific Characters: Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Research” (University of Alabama Press); her other publications address topics such as end-of-life discourse and biodefense, and she is working on a second book.

Keränen, who joined CU-Boulder in 2003 and CU Denver in 2009, says her goal is to “empower students to become lifelong learners equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed as effective, ethical contributors to our interconnected and mediated world.” Her nominator, Sonja K. Foss, professor and past department chair, wrote that although Keränen is “a first-rate researcher and is someone who does a great deal of service in our department, on campus, and in the communication discipline, she is outstanding as a teacher.”

Norton, who joined the Colorado Law faculty in 2007, previously served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice and as Director of Legal and Public Policy at the National Partnership for Women & Families. She has been honored with multiple Excellence in Teaching Awards. Her scholarly and teaching interests include constitutional law, civil rights, and employment discrimination law. She is frequently invited to testify before Congress and federal agencies on civil rights law and policy issues.

Her nominators, Professor Mimi Wesson and Dean Phil Weiser, noted in their letter that when Norton agreed to serve as the school’s associate dean, she declined the customary reduction of course load. Her commitment to teaching, they wrote, “has multiplied the credibility of her efforts to place teaching at the center of our shared mission, no matter what other contributions we may be making.”

Sassower’s main area of interest is postmodern technoscience as applied to all the sciences and cultural studies. His scholarly publications, including 18 books, examine economic and medical theory and methodology, science and technology, postmodernism, education, aesthetics, and Popperian philosophy. His latest book, “The Price of Public Intellectuals,” just came out from Palgrave Macmillan. His upcoming book, “Has Science Sold Out?,” will be out later this year from Polity Press.

Since joining UCCS in 1986, his accomplishments include founding the Center for Women’s Studies, the Film Studies Program, and the Center for Legal Studies. In recent years, he has mentored assistant professors, instructors and lecturers.

“Professor Sassower’s commitment to his academic pursuits is evident in his excellent teaching evaluations, lengthy publication record, and testimonies from colleagues and students,” wrote Mary Ann Cutter, professor and past chair of the department. She calls him “an exemplary teacher, researcher, and role model to students and colleagues.”

Contact: Jay Dedrick, 303-860-5707, Jay.Dedrick@cu.edu