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Guitar professor honored in D.C.

news senior writer

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 13:11

guitar professor

Michael christiansen plays guitar in his office on Nov. 26. The USU professor was recently awarded “Professor of the Year.” Samantha Behl photo

Michael Christiansen, professor of music at Utah State University, has been playing the guitar for more than 55 years. He has been teaching at Utah State University since 1977. Recently, he was honored as Utah’s 2012 Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching on Nov. 15.


Out of 300 nominees across the United States, 30 were selected to receive the award. Christiansen was one of two professors in the arts to be honored. He was nominated by USU professor of physics David Peak, a past winner of the awards, which are administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE.


“It’s quite a process,” Christiansen said. “It’s not just like they put your name up.”


He said nominees have to write a self-assessment letter, put all of their teaching materials together and have outside letters of recommendation form students, colleagues and community members.


Christiansen and his wife flew to Washington D.C. for the awards ceremony and reception held at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill.


“It was really cool because they asked me to play, and so I got to play at the National Press Club before the awards,” Christiansen said. “It was kind of cool because they had me stand up at the awards and thank me for the music so USU got a lot of press out of it. They really rolled out the red carpet for us.”


Christiansen got his degree in music education from USU.


“I love to perform and I love to play, but I really had a passion for teaching and still do,” Christiansen said.


Christiansen began his contract with USU 36 years ago. He is the founder of the university’s guitar program, which started when he realized teaching 90 private students week was too much. He cut down and combined the lessons into classes taught for credit.


“At that time you really couldn’t go anywhere and study guitar,” Christiansen said. “Gradually, we just started adding classes to the curriculum that made it more specialized.”

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