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UNF Online

Excellence In Online Teaching Award


The University of North Florida recognizes faculty who perform meritoriously in online teaching. To that end, the Excellence in Online Teaching Award shall be given annually in recognition of excellence in online teaching.

The award winner will receive an honorarium of $2,500 and a commemorative plaque. The award is funded by Digital Learning, which reserves the right not to provide the monetary award to any winner who is not a UNF employee at the time of UNF’s Annual Convocation.

Additionally, per the Florida Board of Governor’s Online Education 2025 Strategic Plan, each institution within the State University System (SUS) will identify one outstanding faculty member each year to receive the SUS President’s Award. UNF’s Excellence in Online Teaching Award recipient will receive recognition as UNF’s President’s Award winner and be featured on the SUS website.

Excellence In Online Teaching Award Badge

Award Recipients


Maria Angeles Fernández Cifuentes

Dr. Maria Angeles Fernández Cifuentes
Associate Professor
Languages, Literatures and Cultures | College of Arts & Sciences
Faculty Bio
Award Submission Packet


Dr. Maria A Fernandez Cifuentes, associate professor in languages, literatures, and cultures, is a pioneer in online education. Her transformative journey began with the CIRT Teaching Online Foundation Course in 2017, igniting a deep appreciation for the pedagogical potential of online learning. Championing student-created digital Open Educational Resources (OER), Maria fosters equity and innovation with projects showcased internationally. High student ratings and certifications like Quality Matters highlight her commitment to excellence. Maria’s scholarly publications and leadership in educational initiatives further demonstrate her dedication to evidence-based practices and advancing teaching methodologies. Through innovation and empowerment, Maria enriches online education, setting new learning experiences and academic excellence standards.


Nilufer Ozdemir

Dr. Nilufer Ozdemir
Associate Professor
Economics | Coggin College of Business
Faculty Bio
Award Submission Packet
Showcase Video


Dr. Nilufer Ozdemir, associate professor of economics, teaches various online courses, including Monetary Economics and Principles of Macroeconomics. Dr. Ozdemir enhances online learning through a two-pronged "Engagement" and "Support" approach. "Engagement" includes continuous touchpoints like current events reports, quizzes, and Q&A sessions, promoting active participation. "Support" encompasses an Assistance Program, pre-exam meetings, software videos, study guides, and reminder videos for effective learning and connectivity. Discussions facilitate interaction and peer learning in her courses. Additionally, she engages students in analyzing real-world data through community programs, creating a comprehensive, engaging, and supportive online learning environment for student success.

Award Eligibility

Any regular, full-time member or permanent part-time member of the UNF faculty, who holds an in-rank faculty appointment at UNF and meets the following requirements:

Note: No awardee shall be eligible for another Excellence in Online Teaching Award until the fifth year after receiving the last award.


In addition to the eligibility requirements listed above, awardees must have contributed to excellence in online teaching at UNF in some or all of the following areas. Innovative online teaching strategies and demonstrable impact on students are of the highest importance.

  • Successful implementation of innovative online teaching strategies and tools to promote active learning, high levels of instructor-student or student-student interaction, and community engagement.
  • Use of data (e.g., Canvas analytics, ISQs, student feedback) or student-created artifacts (e.g., research proposals, websites, class presentations) as a demonstrable indicator of student success.
  • Exemplary contributions and mentoring on the practice of online course design and delivery, such as participation or leadership roles in department/college committees related to distance learning at UNF.
  • Scholarship, publications, and conference presentations related to evidence-based practices for online teaching.


Any person within the University community (students, alumni, faculty, staff, or administration) may nominate a faculty member, or a faculty member may self-nominate for the award.

To nominate an outstanding faculty member for this award, complete the Faculty Awards Online Nomination Form.

The Nomination period for the faculty award is December 18, 2023 - January 12, 2024 at 5:00pm

Note: Please review the award eligibility section (shown above) for specific requirements that must be met by your nominee.


After the close of nominations, UNF Online confirms each nominee’s eligibility and sends a letter of confirmation to eligible nominees and their department chair, including instructions for the nominee to submit their nominee materials. Nominees who are not eligible will be notified.

To be considered for this award, eligible nominees must submit one copy of their materials in pdf format. Nominee materials shall not include more than nine pages with standard margins, double-spaced, and font sizes no smaller than 12-points. It must include the following artifacts in the order listed:

  • Three-page (maximum) summary and discussion detailing the nominee’s contributions to excellence in online teaching at UNF based on the award criteria.
  • Five-page (maximum) curriculum vitae, including educational background, current rank, and position at UNF.
  • One-page signed statement by the faculty member attesting to the accuracy of the information included in the packet and a stipulation on the part of the Chair that the material is consistent with the Chair’s knowledge of the faculty member’s performance. Download and include the Statements of Accuracy document in your nominee packet.


  • Follow formatting guidelines: Adhere to the document formatting guidelines provided by the award instructions, such as font size, spacing, and margins, to ensure the content fits within the allowed page limit. 
  • Be organized: Structure the content in a logical and organized manner. Use headings and subheadings to delineate each criterion and provide a smooth flow of information. Use bullet points or numbered lists to present information succinctly.  
  • Be selective: Due to the limited page limit, choose the most significant achievements and examples that align with the award criteria. Avoid excessive details or unrelated information that may distract from the main focus. Link to documents or webpage with supplementary information if needed. 
  • Focus on key points: Identify the most significant contributions and examples related to each of the four criteria. Prioritize and include those that best showcase your achievements in online teaching. 
  • Use concise language: Be clear and concise in presenting the information. Avoid lengthy explanations or unnecessary details. Summarize and use precise language to convey your accomplishments and impact.  
  • Prioritize recent and relevant achievements: Highlight your most recent and relevant contributions to online teaching. Focus on achievements directly related to the award criteria and demonstrate ongoing engagement and impact. 
  • Be Direct: When discussing innovative strategies, avoid simply listing the tools used in your courses. Instead, focus on how these innovations contributed to student success, and provide examples of interaction and engagement. This will help highlight your strategies’ effectiveness and demonstrate their impact on student learning. 
  • Edit: Review the content carefully to ensure it meets the three-page limit. Revise for clarity, coherence, and relevance. Seek feedback from colleagues or mentors to refine the content further. 

Award Selection

The award recipient is selected by a committee of six college representatives elected by the UNF Faculty Association to serve on the Distance Learning Committee (current DLC members) and the three previous award winners. The award recipient and their Chair will be notified in early spring (March), and the award will be presented at UNF’s Annual Convocation in the Fall (September).

Award Schedule

The schedule for collecting nominations and selecting the award recipient is as follows:


Award Activity Completion Date
Nomination period starts Monday: 12/18/2023
Nomination period ends Friday, 1/12/2024
Eligible/Not eligible nominees are notified Monday, 2/5/2024
Deadline to submit nominee materials Friday, 3/8/2024
Award selection committee deliberates 3/11/2024 - 3/29/2024
Award recipient and department chair are notified Monday, 4/8/2024
Florida BOG notified of award recipient April 2024
Award presented at UNF’s Annual Convocation September 2024