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Excellence in teaching, advising recognized
(April 26, 1999)
he multitude of ways faculty members support undergraduate students were given recognition at a new awards ceremony hosted by the Division of Undergraduate Education and Instruction last Monday in the South Campus Ballroom.
Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction, said the event was intended to establish a new tradition of a University-wide ceremony recognizing faculty for excellence in teaching, advising and advocacy.
Chancellor Mark Emmert noted that the University has enjoyed considerable national recognition recently. "It's wonderful to have recognition outside the University but a huge amount, and in some ways the most important amount of what we do, isn't the kind of activity anyone outside our community would recognize," he said.
"We all know how important advisers are in our lives, faculty who took the time to take us under their wing, to advise us, to mentor us, to shape the educational experience for us," he said. "It's important we pause to recognize that."
Two new University-wide awards were made for the first time this year: the First Year Student Advocate Award, given to Suman Singha of the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and John Szarlan of counseling services, and the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, presented to Zoe Cardon of ecology and evolutionary biology.
The new advising award, Steele said, aims "to acknowledge what is maybe even more invisible than teaching and that is what faculty do to help students through the curriculum and towards a career."
The annual Chancellor's Information Technology Awards were announced this year for the second time. Prior to the banquet, both this year's and last year's award recipients gave demonstrations of their award-winning technology during a reception at the Alumni House.
As the teaching and advising award-winners were recognized individually , common themes emerged. Several said they feel fortunate to teach students.
"It's a privilege to teach people interested in the same thing I'm interested in and take them one step further," said Sally Reis, professor of educational psychology and one of this year's University Teaching Fellows, in a video of the Teaching Fellows.
"Students give me a sense of purpose," said John Enderle, professor of electrical and systems engineering, also a 1998-99 Teaching Fellow.
Stephen Jones, a professor of English at the Avery Point campus and a 1999-2000 Teaching Fellow, said his "batteries are recharged" by teaching. Jonna Kulikowich, associate professor of educational psychology, another of next year's Teaching Fellows, referred to "the preciousness of life in the classroom."
Keith Barker, associate vice provost, said the teaching fellows share a love for learning, for working with students and seeing them succeed. He noted that students rise to their teachers' expectations.
"I work my students incredibly hard and they always rise to my expectations," said Regina Barreca, professor of English, one of this year's Teaching Fellows.
Barker said excellent teachers also value being able to make a difference in their students' lives.
Robert Gallo, professor of physiology and neurobiology and a 1998-99 Teaching Fellow, recalled the difference one of his professors had made in his career. He said he started college wanting to be a dentist, but after taking a course with an outstanding professor of endocrinology, he developed an interest in both endocrinology and teaching. Gallo also said one of his own former students is now teaching endocrinology as a result of his teaching. "It doesn't get any better than that."
Barker also paid tribute to the contributions of graduate students, presenting Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards to Erika Anderson, communication sciences; Siddhesh Patil, pharmacy; and Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos, modern & classical languages, "in recognition that (TAs) play a large part in the education, particularly of lower division students, in this University."
Barker cited the same qualities of excellence among TAs as among faculty members: enthusiasm, concern, competence, innovation, strong communication skills and the demand for high performance.
Underpinning the awards ceremony was the recognition that teaching and learning go hand in hand. The voices of students were heard through student nominations and student evaluations of many of the award recipients. Next year, announced Tiffany Burkett, academic affairs chair for USG, the Undergraduate Student Government will present a teaching award that will be "totally student generated."