French professor named 50th recipient of top teaching honor

Friday, September 8, 2017

Michèle Bissière is the golden jubilee recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence. Presented annually since 1968, the award is one of the University’s most prestigious accolades, recognizing a talented faculty member. She received the honor during a special ceremony Friday, Sept. 8.

Since joining UNC Charlotte in 1990, Bissière, a professor in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, has developed 12 courses with most in the French curriculum, including language, advanced literature, culture, civilization and film.

However, according to her colleagues, it is what is not listed on paper that makes Bissière a truly exceptional teacher. Colleagues frequently state that because of her enthusiasm, integrity and work ethic, Bissière has supported every major programmatic initiative during the last two decades. Her outreach has been so diverse and extensive that she is the face of French at UNC Charlotte.

As a leader in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies, Bissière founded the French Club and established the internship program, which regularly places students in area schools to assist instructors teaching French; she encourages students to volunteer within local schools and for the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Finally, she single-handedly started the International Film Festival.

Bissière received the 2001 Pedagogical Award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (NC-AATF), the 2013 NC-AATF Teacher of the Year Award, the 2015 AATF Dorothy Ludwig Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2017 UNC Charlotte Faculty International Education Award.  In 2014, she was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight in the Order of the French Academic Palms) by the French Ministry of Education, the most prestigious distinction bestowed upon instructors by the French government.

This year marks the 50th presentation of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence. It was established in response to a suggestion by the staff of the student literary magazine. Bonnie E. Cone and W. Hugh McEniry, vice chancellors at the time, endorsed the students' proposal for the annual award and presented it to Chancellor Dean Colvard. He found financial support for the award through the generosity of Addison Reese and NCNB, a predecessor to NationsBank and Bank of America.

Scott Fitzgerald, associate professor of sociology; Amy Good, associate professor of reading and elementary education; Kirk Melnikoff, associate professor of English; and Coral Wayland, associate professor of anthropology, also were finalists for this year’s Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence and were acknowledged at the Sept. 8 ceremony.