Nominations open for Best Open Educator, $1,000 award

The Colorado State University Libraries has opened nominations for the inaugural Best Open Educator Award.

With a $1,000 award, the Libraries will recognize a single CSU educator who demonstrates exemplary use of open educational resources (OER) in their classrooms or takes an active role in the creation and dissemination of open access materials.

The nomination form and guidelines are available online. The deadline is March 11 at 5 p.m.

Questions can be sent to Meggan Houlihan, student success librarian at CSU Libraries, at

This award seeks to recognize instructors who promote or contribute to a culture of utilizing free academic resources and knowledge sharing to lessen the financial burden on students and mitigate the overall cost of receiving an education.

The financial burden on students pursuing higher education is well known. With the rising costs of textbooks, many CSU faculty members have been working diligently to find or create free or low-cost alternatives to costly textbooks. The impacts of their work have been numerous.

“The Libraries’ mission is to ensure equitable access to information and knowledges, and supporting OER is an important part of that work,” Houlihan said. “Library employees have advocated for OER at CSU for years, and we’ve been honored to work with instructors supporting OER who are as passionate about student achievement and equity as we are.”

Open Educational Excellence at CSU

Efforts to close equity gaps through reducing textbook costs have been continuous over the last few years at CSU.

Campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo are in the third cycle of a continuing grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Faculty and staff have received $186,000 in grant funding to promote the development use of open educational resources, administered by the CSU Libraries with cooperation across CSU.

Instructors have used grants to adopt, adapt and create OER, instructional design support and to support outreach. Through these grant projects, students have been saved an estimated $2 million in the last few years.

Open learning materials also have pedagogical advantages, because they allow instructors to customize and adapt resources for their students.

Medora Huseby, assistant professor in the Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology department, received an award from Gov. Jared Polis’ office in 2020 for her work saving students in her microbiology course a total of $20,000 in one semester.

Enormous success in reducing textbook costs has also been seen in economics classes. One of the largest grant programs is for open educational resources in two undergraduate courses, Principles of Microeconomics (ECON202) and Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON204) save students about $240,000 each semester.