December 1, 2013

Local educator named Professor of the Year


---- — PAUL SMITHS — The region’s own natural scientist, Dr. Curt Stager, is Professor of the Year for New York State.

The honor was conferred by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) based in Washington, D.C. 

He was one of 36 winners from individual states nationwide.

“I’m really happy to see good teaching acknowledged, and on a large scale,” he said via cellphone on his way home from a banquet celebrating the tribute.

“Something like this is really important because it draws attention to the need and importance of quality education. We have always valued good teaching at Paul Smith’s College. A lot of my colleagues do the same things. 

“Maybe in the future they’ll be more winners from Paul Smith’s.”


The nomination was made to the Carnegie Foundation and the council by college staff and administrators a few months ago. Stager learned of the win last month but had to keep it under his hat, he said — not an easy task in the tight-knit community surrounding Paul Smith’s.

Stager said the awards were celebrated with a special luncheon at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington with a reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


At Paul Smith’s College, kudos were in abundance.

In a news release, Dr. John W. Mills, president of Paul Smith’s College, said it is well-deserved distinction.

“When Paul Smith’s talks about giving students a chance to learn side by side with faculty members who truly care about their success, nobody embodies that more than Curt Stager,” he said. 

“He has taken students across the globe to help him conduct research that in many cases they wouldn’t be conducting until graduate school. We’re very proud to have him at Paul Smith’s.”


The natural-science professor from the small school surrounded by wilderness was selected from more than 350 top professors throughout the United States, according to college spokesman Ken Aaron.

“He has taught at Paul Smith’s since 1987. In addition to his dedication to undergraduate education, his paleoecology research has helped illuminate ancient climate conditions and how the lessons of the past can be applied today. His 2011 book on the subject ‘Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth’ received wide acclaim.”


An ecologist known especially for his work in climate history, Stager earned a Ph.D. in biology and geology from Duke University in 1985. Along with some three dozen peer-reviewed papers, his work has been published in national journals, among them Science magazine, National Geographic and Adirondack Life.

In addition to his teaching and research at Paul Smith’s College, Stager is well respected locally as a musician and recording artist. He performs playing banjo and guitar, often with his wife, Kary Johnson. Together, they run an Adirondack summer program for musicians called the Mountain Arts Gathering.

Find more information about Stager’s work at

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