Tracy Nichols Busch to receive FSU 2019 Distinguished Teacher Award


BIG RAPIDS — Tracy Nichols Busch has shown her dedication to learning and teaching through her work as an associate professor of history and lead faculty member for Ferris State University’s Museum of Sexist Objects for many years. Now, she is being recognized for her commitment to education with the 2019 Distinguished Teacher Award.

Busch, who earned a bachelor of arts from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1991, and her doctorate from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 2003, was nominated for this award in 2018. She is in her 12th year of teaching at FSU.

“The hardest part was thinking of myself as ‘distinguished,'” Busch said. “When I heard that word, the stereotype of a gray-haired man in a tweed jacket came to mind. The process forced me to articulate my teaching philosophy and to realize that I bring my own unique combination of professional, personal and academic experience into the classroom.

“I also find it humbling, because of who I am surrounded by. My fellow professors work hard to reach the students. Unlike at some universities, where egos run wild, our faculty support one another and share best practices. We recognize that our students are at a critical stage in their lives. On top of figuring out who they are, they often also have family obligations and outside jobs.”

Busch said helping students to understand and respect the importance of history is at the root of her classroom efforts.

“So many students think history is just names and dates, when in fact history explains why we think and act the way we do,” she said. “As the novelist William Faulkner wrote, ‘The past is never dead, it’s not even past.’ If you want to understand why immigration is a hot-button issue or why Black Lives Matter is a significant movement, you have to learn American history. Knowing world history, will not only enable you to be culturally literate, it will also help you compete on the global job market,” she said.

Regarding her work outside the classroom, Busch said she never imagined she would become involved with projects such as BEYOND, a campus-wide exhibit spearheaded by the Office of International Education, or the Museum of Sexist Objects, which was originally under the Diversity and Inclusion Office.

“Both projects have involved extensive collaboration with fellow faculty, administrators and students, and are bringing important attention to Ferris,” she said.

Several days after Busch’s Distinguished Teacher Award was announced by the Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, she traveled with members of the university’s Phi Alpha Theta chapter to a regional conference held at Oakland University, in Rochester. Busch serves as the Ferris chapter’s adviser, and noted the seven students who presented papers that day participated in a valuable learning experience.

“By standing in front of their fellow historians and presenting original research, they went from being passive consumers of information to creators of knowledge,” Busch said. “It was a proud moment.”

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kristi Haik said Busch’s selection is a just reward for her efforts to benefit the university and its students.

“Dr. Busch is an excellent professor, loved by her students and committed to her work, inside and outside of the classroom,” Haik said. “We are so excited for her and agree that the award is much deserved.”

Busch joined other award-winning faculty and staff members at a celebratory dinner hosted by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paul Blake and Academic Senate President Sandra Alspach on Monday, April 15. She will receive the Distinguished Teacher Award at the Employee Service Awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 24.


Posted by Taylor Fussman

Taylor is the cops and courts reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review newspapers. She can be reached at (231) 592-8362 or by email at

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