French Professor Receives Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching

Michele Bissière from UNC Charlotte’s Department of Languages and Cultural Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is among the recipients of the 2018 UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

This annual honor recognizes one professor from each of North Carolina’s 16 public institutions and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. A member of the UNC Board of Governors will present the award during the spring commencement ceremony at each UNC campus.

“In all my courses, I strive to develop my students’ critical skills and their ability to synthesize the material and apply their knowledge to new contexts,” Bissière said in her  teaching philosophy statement. “I also try to give them passion for the material by designing activities that are fun and challenging at the same time, and I encourage a broad view of learning that takes students outside the classroom.”


Bissière in fall 2017 also received the 2017 Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence. Presented annually since 1968, the award is one of UNC Charlotte’s most prestigious accolades, recognizing a talented faculty member.

Since joining UNC Charlotte in 1990, Bissière has developed 12 courses, with most of those in the French curriculum, including language, advanced literature, culture, civilization and film. Because of her enthusiasm, integrity and work ethic, Bissière has supported every major programmatic initiative in languages and culture studies during the last two decades. Her outreach has been so diverse and extensive that she is considered the face of French at UNC Charlotte.

As a leader in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies, Bissière founded the French Club and established the internship program, which regularly places students in area schools to assist instructors teaching French; she encourages students to volunteer within local schools and for the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. She is the founder and organizer of the annual International Film Festival, and has received numerous grants from the French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation to bring French film festivals to campus.

“I believe that the atmosphere of a class is very important in promoting learning. I encourage students to get to know each other through interviews and presentations the first day, and through frequent group work during the semester,” she said in her   I include what I know about the students in my questions and examples in language courses, and I encourage students at all levels to give presentations on topics that matter to them personally. I also encourage students to expand their horizons by attending cultural events. All these activities create a stronger learning community.

Bissière received the 2001 Pedagogical Award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (NC-AATF), the 2013 NC-AATF Teacher of the Year Award, the 2015 AATF Dorothy Ludwig Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2017 UNC Charlotte Faculty International Education Award.  In 2014, she was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight in the Order of the French Academic Palms) by the French Ministry of Education, the most prestigious distinction bestowed upon instructors by the French government.

Bissière researches contemporary French cinema, with a focus on films dealing with immigration. Her most recent book, with Alan Singerman, Le Cinéma français contemporain. Manuel de classe (Hackett Publishing Company), is forthcoming in November 2017.

Bissière teaches courses in language, literature, and culture. She uses film in her courses to reinforce language skills and elements of culture. She is the author of the textbook, Séquences: Intermediate French through Film, now in its third edition with Cengage, and of a co-edited volume of Women in French Studies entitled French and Francophone Literature and Culture through Film. Bissière has served as Interim and Associate Chair of the Department of Languages and Culture Studies, Study-Abroad Coordinator, and French Club Advisor. She has been actively involved with the Alliance Française de Charlotte and with the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) for over 20 years.

Image: Bissière at the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence ceremony.


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