April 25, 2000
Volume 46
Number 30

School of Arts and Sciences 2000 Teaching Awards

SAS Dean Samuel Preston and College Dean Richard Beeman have announced the winners of this year's School of Arts and Sciences teaching awards. This year SAS has expanded its efforts to recognize outstanding teaching--and the many contexts in which teaching occurs--by establishing new SAS awards to honor teaching innovation, mentorship of undergraduate research and teaching by members of the junior faculty.

The School will honor the winners at a reception on Monday, May 1, at 4 p.m. in the Terrace Room in Logan Hall. All members of the University are invited; please R.S.V.P. to the SAS Dean's Office at (215) 898-7320.

Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching

Now in its 14th year, the Ira Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching is the School of Arts and Sciences' highest honor for distinguished teaching. It honors teaching that is intellectually challenging and exceptionally coherent, and is reserved for faculty who embody high standards of integrity and fairness, have a strong commitment to learning and are open to new ideas.

This year there are two winners: Dr. Bruce Kuklick, and Dr. Jeremy McInerney. Dr. Kuklick is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor in American History. A colleague says "Bruce is the embodiment of the teacher-scholar, who brings the results of his research into the classroom and communicates his findings with passion and with integrity to his students. He is a model for the University community." Dr. McInerney is an associate professor of classical studies (he was the Laura Jan Meyerson Term Assistant Professor in the Humanities from 1994 to 1999). A colleague says "McInerney manages to combine extremely high standards with a flexible and understanding attitude to create a classroom atmosphere that puts students at ease while evoking from them their best work."

Kahn Award for Educational Excellence

The Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Educational Excellence is given to an academic entity within Arts and Sciences (a department, undergraduate program, graduate group, or center) that demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to teaching, innovation, and service. The Kahn Award is in its third year; the winner is the Department of Mathematics. In recognition of: (1) commitment of faculty to undergraduate mathematics education, in particular the widespread introduction of a technology-based aid (the Maple software program) to teach calculus (2) the creation of a multifaceted and extremely well-received Help Program to assist students (featuring Math and Maple Centers held four nights a week in a rotating series of dormitories; Sunday night review sessions in DRL; the appointment of a residential math advisor in each college house on campus; and on-line math advising) and (3) the efforts of Math faculty to acknowledge in their teaching the interface of mathematics with other disciplines, such as the creation of a minor in Actuarial Mathematics. The $6,000 prize is to be used to further enhance the department's teaching mission. The Department Chair is Dr. Dennis DeTurck, Davidson Kennedy Professor.

Dean's Award for Innovation In Teaching

This is a new award which recognizes creativity and innovation in instruction. The first winner is Dr. Cristle Collins Judd, assistant professor of music. It is in recognition of "extraordinary initiative in the application of technology to enhance classroom instruction," including (1) leadership in the development of an undergraduate music lab for computer-assisted instruction (2) innovative use of the web in her courses, including the design and implementation of a multi-media coursepack on the web that includes interactive exercises.

Dean's Award for Mentorship of Research

Another new award, this one honors meaningful engagement of undergraduate students in research that is the direct result of exceptional nurturing and facilitating by the faculty member.

The winner is Dr. Andrew Binns, professor and chair of biology.

This is in recognition of mentorship of undergraduate students in his laboratory, most of whom credit the experience as a pivotal experience in their development as scientists. A faculty colleague says, "Andy's challenging and supportive mentoring motivates the students to work very hard, to grow intellectually, to achieve beyond their expectations and to produce interesting and significant scientific results." 

Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching

A third new award--the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor--recognizes a member of the junior faculty who demonstrates unusual promise as an educator. The winner is Dr. Barbara von Schlegell, assistant professor of religious studies. A colleague writes, "She is more dedicated to her students, both graduate and undergraduate, than almost any professor I have known in over twenty years at Penn." 

Distinguished Teaching by Graduate Students

These are awarded to graduate students in Arts and Sciences in recognition of their contributions to undergraduate teaching. Recognizes both teaching assistants and graduate students who teach their own courses.

The winners are:

  • Ilana Blumberg, English
  • Bryan Coutain, political science
  • Autumn Fiester, philosophy
  • Gregory Flaxman, comparative literature
  • Bernard Rhie, English
  • Nakia Rimmer, mathematics
  • Jennifer Smith, Earth & environmental science
  • Jon Sullivan, biology
  • Lorrin Thomas, history

MLK Day: A University Holiday

Since becoming a national holiday in 1986, Martin Luther King Day has focused the University's energies and attention on community service while inspiring all of us to explore ways to realize Dr. King's vision of a "beloved community."

At the same time, many members of our University community have strongly felt that Penn could not fully pay its respect to Dr. King's memory and legacy as long as it failed to observe his birthday as a holiday.

In January, I added my voice to theirs by recommending that Penn officially observe Martin Luther King Day as a University holiday, beginning next year. The deans considered the proposal and concurred with my recommendation.

I am happy to report that, starting in 2001, Martin Luther King Day will be an official holiday at the University of Pennsylvania. I hope this will encourage the creation and expansion of more events and enkindle even greater participation from all of us.

"Everybody can be great," Dr. King said, "because everybody can serve."

I urge the entire Penn community to strive toward that standard of greatness by observing next year's holiday, as the Corporation for National Service suggests, as "a day on not a day off." Every act of serving others advances our mission to build a caring and beloved community.

--Judith Rodin, President

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 30, April 25, 2000

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