Nancy T. Watts Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Office of the Provost each year presents the Nancy T. Watts Award for Excellence in Teaching,  given to a faculty member who best exemplifies creativity in teaching, is receptive to evaluation, is responsive to the individual learning needs of students, is a mentor to students and faculty alike, and is recognized and respected by professional colleagues.

The Watts Award is named after Professor Emerita Nancy T. Watts, PhD, PT, FAPTA, who in 1989 was the first recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching that was created to recognize individual faculty members for outstanding achievement in teaching. It was renamed in 1996 in honor of Dr. Watts, who helped create the Institute and then was its first Director of the Physical Therapy program.

The 2017 recipient of the Watts Award is Laura Plummer, PT, DPT, MS, NCS, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy – see video above.

Plummer, who has taught at the IHP since 2009, was praised by colleagues and students for her commitment to enhancing students’ educational experience, creativity in teaching methods, being open to student and faculty colleague evaluations, success as a mentor to students and faculty, and leadership.

“Dr. Plummer has earned the respect of faculty colleagues and Institute leadership alike as she continues to embrace change, share insights, listen, negotiate differences, and arrive at innovative solutions,” said Dr. Mary Knab, director of the IMPACT Practice curriculum. “She is a role model for continuing to learn with, from, and about her peers from other professions – be they clinicians, fellow academic faculty, or students.”

Plummer is a dual graduate of the IHP; she received her Master of Science in Physical Therapy in 2002, followed a year later by her Doctor of Physical Therapy. She is the 28th recipient of the Watts award, named after the nationally renowned physical therapist who was a pioneer at Massachusetts General Hospital, was instrumental in the creation of the MGH Institute, and was the school’s first leader of its PT program.

Several colleagues wrote nomination letters that pointed to Plummer’s work in expanding the annual Infant Development Day from a session that was originally designed only for PT students into an interprofessional educational experience in which students from all the IHP’s programs learn with and from each other by discussing young children’s activities from their respective disciplines’ perspectives.

See the previous years' recipients.


All regular and adjunct faculty of the MGH Institute of Health Professions, who have not already received the award, are eligible for the award. See a list of past winners. Nominations will stay active for three years.


A committee with representation from faculty, students, and the Board of Trustees will evaluate the nominees' qualification for evidence of:

  • Commitment to enhancing the educational experience of Institute students
  • Creativity in teaching methods
  • Openness to student and faculty colleague evaluation
  • Success as a mentor to faculty or students


Please assemble the following items into a single packet and email it to the Office of the Provost by April 16, 2018:

  1. A cover letter from the nominator(s) describing how the candidate meets the selection criteria for the award
  2. Between two and six supporting letters, from both students and colleagues, attesting to the candidate's teaching excellence 
  3. Sample materials that demonstrate creativity in teaching methods (if appropriate).

See also Faculty and Clinical Educator Commencement Awards.

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