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School of Arts and Sciences 2008 Teaching Awards
April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30

Teaching Award Reception: May 1

Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College, announced the following recipients of the School’s 2008 teaching awards, to be presented on Thursday, May 1 at an awards reception that is open to the University community. The reception will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Upper Egyptian Gallery of the Penn Museum.

Ira H. Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching

Dillon   Richter

This year’s recipients of SAS’s highest teaching honor are Dr. Emma Dillon, associate professor of music, and Dr. Simon Richter, professor of Germanic languages and literatures.

Created in 1983, the Ira H. Abrams Award recognizes teaching that is intellectually challenging and exceptionally coherent and honors faculty who embody high standards of integrity and fairness, have a strong commitment to learning, and are open to new ideas.

Dr. Dillon is also the recipient of a Lindback Award this year (Almanac April 15, 2008). Of one of her courses on medieval music, a student comments that Dr. Dillon “draws out the truths of the medieval experience, locked away in the parchment of another time and brings it alive for her students.” A colleague writes that “a teacher like Emma comes along in our discipline once or twice in a lifetime.” 

Dr. Richter is known for his innovative courses like The Devil’s Pact in Literature, Music and Film, and Looking for Lola: The Allure of a Cinematic Name. One of his teaching assistants observes that Dr. Richter “nurtures the ability to engage directly with work (texts, images, music, film, etc.) in a way that leads students to discover unusually fresh and compelling insights.”

Dean’s Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Research


This award recognizes faculty members who have excelled in nurturing students’ desires and abilities to conduct meaningful research. This year SAS honors Dr. Rogers Smith, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, for his own mentoring and for the research opportunities he created through the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism. “He has a larger vision than helping a particular student write a particular project,” notes a colleague, “he wants to create an experience in which students can truly learn.”


Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor


This award recognizes a member of the junior faculty who demonstrates unusual promise as an educator. This year’s recipient is Dr. Marija Drndic, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, who has taught introductory quantum mechanics and electromagnetism for engineering students as well as advanced quantum mechanics. “She is a brilliant communicator, sparks interest in the subject and facilitates the internalizing of concepts,” writes one student.  “The atmosphere in her class is always full of energy.”



Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Affiliated Faculty


This award recognizes the contributions to undergraduate education made by the School’s non-standing faculty. This year’s recipient is Dr. James Schlatter, senior lecturer in theatre arts. A colleague describes him as “an educator whose work is never confined to the classroom but extends to rehearsal rooms, one-on-one meetings, and a deep investment in the intellectual and artistic growth of each student he encounters.”



CGS Distinguished Teaching Award

Granieri   Rabberman

This award honors outstanding teaching and advising in the College of General Studies (CGS). This year’s recipient of the award for standing faculty is Dr. Ronald Granieri, assistant professor of history. Students applaud his “passionate” lectures, saying that “one cannot leave his class without not only learning the material, but also feeling awed by it.” Dr. Kristine Rabberman, director of Programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences in CGS, earns the non-standing faculty honor for her courses in gender studies and the Academic Writing and Research Design course she designed for CGS’s Master of Liberal Arts program. 



Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Graduate Students

This award recognizes graduate students for teaching that is intellectually rigorous and has a considerable impact on undergraduate students. This year’s awardees are:

James Bedison, Earth and Environmental Science

Elena Bogdan, Mathematics

D’Maris Coffman, History

Ellery Foutch, History of Art

Matthew Gaetano, History

Athanasios Geromichalos, Economics

Ryan Grauer, Political Science

Adrian Khactu, English

Joanna Radin, History and Sociology of Science

Roberto Salguero-Gomez, Biology

Lance Wahlert, English

Related: School of Medicine 2008 Teaching Awards

Almanac - April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30