Chancellor Linda Katehi interrupted professor David Biale’s History of Modern Israel class Tuesday afternoon, bringing with her a cake and a promise of $40,000.
Biale is the winner of the 2011 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. The $40,000 prize is believed to be the largest of its kind in the nation, funded through philanthropy.
“His students describe him as engaging and inspiring, and his colleagues describe him as a brilliant scholar and source of pride for his department,” Katehi said. “The UC Davis prize recognizes, in particular, David’s ability to help his students create the intellectual tools to be successful thinkers in a global community.”
Biale joined the campus in 1999 and became the Emanuel Ringelbaum Chair in Jewish History. In the past two years, he has taught courses on comparative genocide, secular Jewish thinkers, the history of the end of the world, the history of the Holocaust and the memory of the Holocaust.
Biale said he plans to use the award money to strengthen student opportunities in the history department, especially in the Jewish studies program and graduate education.
“I don’t think education ends with faculty, it ends with students, and I couldn’t do what I do without my excellent students,” Biale said.
The cake, provided by University Dining Services Harvest Bakery, was in the shape of an envelope – a play on images, Katehi said. Approximately 100 of his students received cupcakes.
Biale will receive his prize May 12 at a gala dinner at the Conference Center Ballroom. The UC Davis Foundation created the award in 1986. Donations are made by members of the UC Davis Chancellor’s Club, UC Davis Foundation Trustees and Trustees Emeriti, alumni and others.
– Janelle Bitker