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Metcalf Award Winner Sandra Nicolucci

Three degrees from BU, and now a top teaching recognition


Almost 46 years after her arrival at BU, Sandra Nicolucci has received one of the University’s highest teaching awards.

Sandra S. Nicolucci set foot on the BU campus as a freshman during theJohnson administration. Her studies carried her through Vietnam,Watergate, and the election of Jimmy Carter. Almost three decades afterearning her BU doctorate, she returned to the College of Fine Arts as afull-time faculty member. And five years after that, Nicolucci (CFA’68,’69, SED’77), a CFA associate professor of music and music education,has won a Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence.

Nicolucci says the news that she’d been nominated reminded her of several previous CFA winners whom she holds in high esteem.

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“Knowing what these teachers have accomplished in their classrooms, ensemble halls, and studios, I feel unworthy,” she wrote in a nomination acceptance letter to Victor Coelho, associate provost for undergraduate education and a CFA professor. Nicolucci added her hope that she could “even partially live up to the precedents they have set.”

Many of her students think she already has, by devoting herself to turning undergraduates into tomorrow’s teachers. Nicolucci — Dr. Nic to her students — has spent most of her career teaching public elementary and middle school students in Wellesley, Brookline, and Newton, Mass. She received tenure in all three and won numerous awards from the Massachusetts Music Educators Association for her curriculum designs and teaching.

She also taught part-time at the Boston Conservatory for 32 years, and she won national recognition from the American Music Education Initiative for developing a seventh-grade unit on Porgy and Bess.

“Dr. Nicolucci belongs to the rare breed of teachers that, unfortunately, only come along once or twice in a student’s life,” a former student wrote to the Metcalf committee. The student, now an elementary school music teacher, noted the framed quote from poet Christopher Logue that Nicolucci presents to her students at graduation:

“Come to the edge,” the teacher said.
“But we might fall!” the students said.
“Come to the edge,” the teacher said.
“But it’s too high!” the students said.
“COME TO THE EDGE!” the teacher said.
And they came, and the teacher pushed them, and they flew.

“Dr. Nicolucci challenges her students to fly,” the student concluded.

The winners of this year’s Metcalf Awards and the Metcalf Cup and Prize — the University’s highest teaching honors — were announced at the annual Senior Breakfast, on April 30, and will be presented at Commencement, on Sunday, May 16.

The honors were created in 1973 with a gift from the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a former faculty member and longtime chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Cup winner receives $10,000 and the Award winners $5,000 each. A committee chooses the winners based on nominees’ statements of teaching philosophy, letters of support from colleagues and students, and committee members’ in-class observations of the teachers.

Read about Metcalf Cup and Prize winner J. Gregory McDaniel, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the College of Engineering, here. Check back on Wednesday to read about Metcalf Award winner John P. Caradonna, an associate professor of chemistry and director of undergraduate studies at the College of Arts & Sciences.

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu. Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @amlaskow.


One Comment on Metcalf Award Winner Sandra Nicolucci

  • Anonymous on 05.04.2010 at 8:19 am

    Congratulations to Dr. Nicolucci on this honor. Things may be different in fine arts, but it’s a bit sad that in BU colleges such as CAS someone with three degrees from BU would currently be among the last people to be hired as a professor. If this is true for fine arts as well, is its ironic that BU Today chose to highlight in their profile of this great teacher.

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