Dr. Tiece Ruffin, associate professor of Africana studies and education at UNC Asheville, has been named a winner of the prestigious UNC System Board of Governors’ 2020 Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Ruffin, Interim Director of the Africana studies department, is known for her dedication to diversity, inclusion, and equity in education, both in the United States and around the world.
As a faculty member in the Department of Education, Dr. Ruffin coordinated such projects as instituting a lecture series that brought several nationally known scholars to campus. Dr. Ruffin coordinated the department’s efforts to internationalize teacher education, and she regularly leads students on study abroad programs in Ghana and in South Korea.
Ruffin was awarded the Fulbright Scholar grant for 2017-18, which afforded her the opportunity to teach and conduct research in special education in Ghana. In 2019 Ruffin was awarded a $10,000 public service grant by the US Department of State to implement a public service project in Ghana as a Citizen Diplomat.
Dr. Ruffin also brings community engagement inside the classroom. For Ruffin, being an excellent teacher means connecting with students and engaging in authentic and experiential learning.
“Being an excellent teacher means being a responsive, equitable and inclusive teacher,” Ruffin said. “It is inculcating a sense of optimism by highlighting the challenges in our quest to create a more just and equitable society while modeling a vision where our human potential is without bounds.”
Ruffin melds her roles as an educator of tomorrow’s teachers, as a parent, and as an active citizen of the community. In Asheville she has served on the board of Asheville City Schools Foundation, the Asheville City Schools AIG (Academically and Intellectually Gifted) Advisory Board, and as faculty advisor to the University’s Black Student Association. She currently serves on the boards of Read to Succeed Asheville, UNC Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education, Francine Delany New School for Children, and the Buncombe County Community Engagement Office Isaac Coleman Grant Review Committee.
As an educational consultant Ruffin has led professional development offerings for the YMCA of Western North Carolina, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, Yancey County Schools, Western Region Education Service Alliance (WRESA), Project MARS/AmeriCorps, and AmeriCorps NC via the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.
Ruffin was named a 2016-17 North Carolina—West Education Policy Fellow by the state’s Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), and was the fourth recipient of UNC Asheville’s Community Connector Award.