In order to show appreciation for professors who go above and beyond what is expected of them, ASUCD hosted the annual Excellence in Education Awards Tuesday night.
Starting at the beginning of spring quarter, students sent in online nominations for their favorite professors. The Academic Affairs Commission then reviewed all of the nominations to narrow it down to three finalists from each college.
Commissioners then interviewed each of the three finalists, looking at teaching style, approachability, knowledge of material they’re teaching, what students say in their nomination, as well as personal stories, said Amaan Shaikh, chair of the Academic Affairs Commission.
“There really aren’t any student-run award ceremonies,” Shaikh said. “This is the only one and a lot of professors find this more meaningful because it’s from the students.”
At the ceremony, each nominee received a personalized certificate with a quote from one of his or her nominations and all the winners received a plaque.
The ceremony began with awards for professors in the College of Letters and Sciences.
In the mathematical and physical sciences, the three finalists were Neil Schore, Annaliese Franza and Randy Harris. Schore won for going above and beyond the duties expected of a teacher as well as his involvement on campus in the chemistry club and the chemistry magic show on Picnic Day.
The next award was for the social sciences professors. The finalists for this category were Ethan Scheiner, Kathryn Olmstead and winner Kathleen Stuart. Stuart won for creative methods of teaching, including a class play of Galileo’s trial and the ability to maintain a high level of approachability despite her expertise as a professor and in her research.
The finalists for the College of Engineering were Stephen O’Driscoll, Brian Higgins and Sashi Kunnath. The winner was Stephen O’Driscoll.
“This professor impressed me with his enthusiasm, his high regard for students and the fact that he said to me one of the most important things that I regard as the main reason why you’re all here: ‘We have a responsibility to give back to the next generation of students,” said presenter Shaikh about O’Driscoll.
Following the College of Engineering awards, ASUCD President Adam Thongsavat said a few words about the awards.
“You have no idea how much it means to us as students,” he said. “I know each of you are here for a reason and I want you to know that whether or not you feel that way when you leave, you’re appreciated, you are respected and you make that much of a difference in lectures and discussions.”
For the College of Biological Sciences, the finalists were Sean Burgess, Jeremy Appleman and James Shaffrath. Presenter Christine Siefferman said Shaffrath, the winner, received an overwhelming number of nominations.
“He encourages students with real world situations and volunteer experiences,” Siefferman said. “One student actually wrote ‘words cannot describe so why bother?'”
The three finalists for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science were Michael Denison, Kentaro Inoue and Frank Hirtz. Hirtz won for applying the Meta learning strategy, a process of disseminating knowledge in such a way that allows student to become increasingly aware of perception, inquiry, learning and growth as they begin to internalize the information.
The next award was for the College of Letters and Science, in the Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies subjects. The three finalists were James Housefield, Archana Venkatesan and Gregory Dobbins. Housefield was the winner of the category.
“His office hours are not only a time for students to seek advice but also a networking opportunity within the design community. He truly guides his students to find their own self-resolve to progress on to their futures,” said presenter Brenda Bass.
The final award presented was the Overall Excellent Educator of the Year award, which was selected from one of the finalists. The winner for 2011 was Schore, from the chemistry department.
“This instructor is known for their ability to keep things humorous and engage the students,” Shaikh said. “This professor is so enthusiastic about the students’ education that they did their interview with us via Skype while in Taiwan. [His] commitment to students’ education and their futures is what makes [him] such a fantastic educator.”
AKSHAYA RAMANUJAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.