Marlene Preston, associate professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2013 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among those faculty members who have received Certificates of Teaching Excellence from their respective colleges in the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1993, Preston was recognized for her leadership in curriculum development, mentoring to faculty and graduate students, and scholarship on pedagogy. She serves as assistant head of the Department of Communication and director of undergraduate programs.

Preston has established a national reputation in curriculum development, basic course and public speaking instruction, and the creation and direction of communication labs. She has created numerous award-winning and innovative courses, including the department’s Communication Skills course that led to an Exemplary Department Award in 2006.

“Marlene’s personal teaching and advising are exemplary,” said Robert Denton, professor and department head. “At the end of the day, her door is always open to any lost, troubled, or joyous student who wants to chat with her — one of her own students or any one of our 700 majors.”

Preston designed and directs CommLab, a speaking center for students across disciplines housed in Newman Library. Among the many courses she has designed and implemented are Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and International Perspectives on Communication. In addition, Preston created procedures for the department’s Center for Advising Support, designed a training program for graduate teaching assistants, and implemented numerous faculty development programs.

“Dr. Preston is very connected with every student,” said one course evaluator.  “She wants us to succeed and shows us how to.”

Recently, the department received the Program of Excellence Award from the Basic Courses Division of the National Communication Association, based on the implementation of two courses and one program that Preston designed.

Preston’s impact on teaching extends across the university. She has worked with the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the University Writing Program, sharing knowledge for the enhancement of teaching and learning.

Among Preston’s numerous teaching awards are two Certificates of Teaching Excellence, an Exemplary Department Award, an XCaliber Certificate of Excellence, a Commendation for Exceptional Leadership, as well as many awards from outside the university.

Preston earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a doctoral degree from Virginia Tech.



Written by Catherine Doss.

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