University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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University features Distinguished Teaching award recipient

"…I view my role as an instructor as a quintessentially personal one. I want my students to feel not merely that they have learned a subject from me, but more importantly that they have been part of an intimate transfer of knowledge and experience that defines the human endeavor moving forward. That's my definition of professorial success."

Students rank Professor Christopher Cramer's chemistry courses at the top for quality despite the fact that they're really tough. As one former student says, "His patience in answering my questions seemed limitless, and he never made me feel small for not knowing something."Besides designing several fundamental courses, Cramer has written a chemistry textbook used by universities in 16 countries. As a teacher and leader he seeks to make students feel part of a community. One student remembers Cramer's meeting with incoming freshmen: "He began talking about his life as a student and how he got to where he is today. I became awestruck…I truly felt I made a connection in the large university."A prolific researcher, with more than 300 refereed publications, Cramer has mentored dozens of undergraduates who have carried out research under his supervision. "Chris showed a passion for his work," says one of those students, "and an interest in me that far exceeded my expectations.…The faith Chris showed in my abilities gave me the confidence to pursue a Ph.D." Another says, "He was more concerned with you 'getting it' than handing out grades, which I liked."

A colleague sums it up: "How many instructors can boast of [such] strong student appreciation for their teaching…that [it] inspires the bumper sticker, 'Honk if you passed P. Chem'?…While many [teachers] truly excel at a few aspects…I have met none that can match both the quality and stunning breadth of Professor Cramer's contributions."