University of Vermont

Todd Pritchard Named 2020 Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award Winner

2020 Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award winner Todd Pritchard
Photo by Taslim Sidi Urnek

The philosophy that guides Todd Pritchard’s teaching—“Dr. Todd” to his enthusiastic students and advisees—makes it clear why he would be chosen as this year’s George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award winner. The annual UVM Alumni Association award honors teaching that motivates students in their time at UVM and beyond, along with a dedication to student advising. Pritchard is highly regarded for his authentic and effective work in both domains.

“First and most important, teaching should be fun,” exclaims Pritchard, senior lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences. “I love the energy of the back and forth—bouncing ideas off of students, seeing what they know, expanding their knowledge. I tell students to learn the material as best you can, and when you no longer understand it, let’s talk. Because that’s when you’re on the cusp of learning.”

Students will quickly tell you that there is no opportunity for passive learning in Pritchard’s classes. Colleagues describe their admiration for his creative and engaging teaching style—the deft way he augments presentations with direct questions for his students, pulling on their experience beyond the topic at hand to build connections that lead to insight; the collaborative, peer-based projects he develops for maximal input from his students; the way he assesses the level of knowledge on a subject and alters the pace when a topic needs further explanation.

Todd Pritchard ’85, PhD ’89 earned his bachelor’s in agricultural biochemistry and his graduate degrees in food microbiology. The morning after receiving his bachelor’s degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences he began working in a CALS lab. When the opportunity to teach arose while pursuing his PhD, he excitedly accepted, and in the 33 years since he has never looked back.

Pritchard’s engaging teaching style is as present in introductory survey courses as in his required upper-level class for all food microbiology majors. His capstone course is an applied learning challenge where students develop a food product and all of the manufacturing and quality control programs to make it a success. Many who have taken that class now work in the specialty food industry and credit Pritchard with preparing them for the “real world” in food production.

A popular advisor, Pritchard will fill his schedule to capacity and then some, always ready to guide and encourage students in a field that has given him so much pleasure. As one alumna put it, “Dr. Todd works diligently to understand the needs of his students and has mastered the subtle art of lending a helping hand.”