As appearing in SOURCE

Each year the CSU Alumni Association recognizes outstanding university educators with Best Teacher Awards. This year liberal arts faculty took home half of the total awards, with three professors being selected as honorees.


Denise Apodaca

School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Denise Favela Apodaca received her B.A. in piano performance from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a master’s in piano performance and a second master’s in piano pedagogy from Northwestern University. She graduated with honors from both universities.

She has been on numerous faculties and has performed throughout the U.S. both as a soloist and as a chamber artist. Apodaca has been an adjudicator for several music teachers’ associations and has given workshops on piano technology, piano pedagogy, performance, music education, Latin American music and early childhood music. She currently serves on the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County and was a member of the executive committee for Beet Street in Fort Collins.

Apodaca is currently Piano Proficiency Coordinator, teaches Piano Skills for Music Therapists, Piano Skills for Music Educators, and Music Appreciation at CSU.





 Ray Black

Ethnic Studies

Ray Black is an assistant professor of ethnic studies focusing on African American studies; he has been at CSU for just over two years.

He is interested in the African American experience in the U.S., with a primary academic focus on representations of black life in the slave narratives and other 19th century documents, and how these depictions use literary irony and the folkloric trickster to conceal various modes of survival.

His current research is on how current students of color succeed in higher education. Black has taught early childhood education (Head Start), been a coordinator for a non-profit program seeking to keep young men of color in high school, and led campaigns for reform-minded school board candidates. He follows the lesson of one of his teachers: “All students are flowers. Some take longer to bloom.”






Chuchang Chiu

Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Chuchang Chiu is the senior teaching appointee for the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at CSU.

She grew up in Taiwan and received a B.A. in journalism from Chengchi University in Taiwan in 1979. Chiu’s graduate study focused on mass communication. She received a master’s from the University of Minnesota, and taught at Colorado College and the Foreign Language Center in Colorado Springs in the 1980s. She also held various positions at Hewlett Packard in Oregon in the ’90s.

Chiu has been teaching all levels of Chinese courses at CSU since 2003 and is the advisor of the Chinese Club.

Chiu previously received the CSU APACC Outstanding Teacher Award in 2012, and the CSU College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007.




Teachers are nominated by students and alumni, and final selections are made by a committee that includes faculty, students and members of the Alumni Association.

This year’s awards dinner is set for 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday April 18th at the Lory Student Center Theatre.

Tickets and information are available online or by calling the Office of CSU Events at 491-4601.