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SAS Teaching Awards
April 27, 2010, Volume 56, No. 31

Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College, announce the following recipients of the School’s 2010 teaching awards, to be presented on Wednesday, April 28 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 University Museum.

Ira H. Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching


This year’s recipients of SAS’s highest teaching honor are John DiIulio, Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society, and Ilya Vinitsky, Associate Professor and Chair of Slavic 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. DiIulio is also the recipient of a Lindback Award this year (Almanac April 20, 2010). He is perhaps best known for his introductory course on American politics, about which one student writes, “While his knowledge of the material is stunning and his ability to excite students is unmatched, it is his teaching style … that sets him apart.  He engages students with material in a way that makes them question how the issues that affect our world relate to them, and what they can do to affect change.”

Dr. Vinitsky’s courses in 19th-century Russian literature, culture, and intellectual history have a strong following among students who hail his courses as the highlight of their Penn careers and applaud his “ability to bring the materials alive without telling the students how to think.”  One student reports that Dr. Vinitsky’s classes “have … had a profound effect on my way of thinking, reading, and view in the world.”

Dean’s Award for Innovation in Teaching


This award, which recognizes exceptional creativity and innovation in instruction, goes to Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science, for her seminar Inside/Out: The Politics of Crime and Punishment, which enrolls Penn students as well as a group of prison inmates at the Philadelphia Industrial Correction Center.  The class has a deep impact on the participants; one Penn student writes that “the message was always clear: the laws and policies that we learned about were not just words on a page—they had a real impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, ten of whom were sitting next to us in class every week.”




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 Mark Devlin, Reese W. Flower Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, who has provided research experiences for some 45 undergraduates. A colleague commends Dr. Devlin’s “active learning” approach, the way he “shows the undergraduates his own passion and enthusiasm for the scientific undertaking,” and his ability to convey “the clear message that the scientific challenges are significant and important, but that they can be successfully overcome.”




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. Salamishah Tillet, assistant professor of English. Her undergraduate and graduate courses on twentieth-century African American literature and visual and performance arts earn rave reviews from students, one of whom writes that Tillet “walks beside her students in a way that demonstrates her confidence and sincere interest in the unique experiences each individual brings to the classroom.”




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 Christina Frei, senior lecturer in foreign language in the department of German and academic director of the Penn Language Center. Colleagues praise “the intensity of her presence,” “the strategic appeal of her pedagogy,” her commitment to learner-centered teaching, and her innovative use of technology in the classroom.




LPS Distinguished Teaching Award

Barnard Sil

This award honors outstanding teaching and advising in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS). This year’s recipient of the award for standing faculty is Rita Barnard, professor of English, who earns praise for her teaching and mentorship in LPS courses.  A student observes, “In a class populated with students functioning at widely disparate levels of expertise, she strived to optimize the input of everyone in the class.” 

The non-standing faculty recipient is Eileen Doherty-Sil, associate director of the political science undergraduate program, who has taught introductory LPS courses and seminars in the Master of Liberal Arts program. One of her students notes, “What was her unique mark as a professor was that she enabled us to become better thinkers—we were not to simply nod … but instead be firm evaluators and objective analysts.”

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:

Michael Ambroso, Physics and Astronomy

Lacey Baradel, History of Art

Seth Bernard, Ancient History

Claire Bourne, English

Jason Devito, Mathematics

Ruth Erickson, History of Art

Michael Joiner, Anthropology

Melanie Micir, English

Amanda Reiterman, Art and Archaeology of Mediterranean World

Erin Wiley, Biology

Related: SP2 Teaching Awards; SEAS Teaching Awards


Almanac - April 27, 2010, Volume 56, No. 31