U.Va. professors receive Harrison Teaching Awards
By Carol Wood
to a University of Virginia alumnus who believes in rewarding
exceptional teaching and academic leadership, eight U.Va. professors
have been chosen to receive annual Harrison
Fund Awards. Four of the award winners each will receive a
stipend of $10,000, while the remaining four professors each will
receive $5,000 for their innovative team-teaching venture.
awards, begun three years ago, are a result of the generosity
of David A. Harrison III of Hopewell, a retired investment banker
and a long-time benefactor of the U.Va. library, the schools of
medicine and law, and the departments of archaeology and athletics.
announcing the 1999 Harrison Awards, President
John T. Casteen III noted the importance of a program that
provides tangible rewards for exemplary teaching.
Harrison asked us to select three of the University's very best
teachers," Casteen said. "But the field of nominations
had such depth that we could not stop there. Thanks to Mr. Harrison's
generosity, we were able to extend the awards this year to additional
well-deserved faculty. We have singled out eight professors whose
work symbolizes the commitment to teaching that distinguishes
U.Va. from its peers."
awards recognize a wide range of contributions to academic life,
and extend across disciplines and schools.
Warren, associate professor in Religious
Studies: the Harrison Award for Excellence in Undergraduate
was heralded as a professor who has "gained a reputation
as a gifted and caring instructor whose classroom methodology
engages the students, challenges them, and enriches their understanding
of the material." Student evaluations consistently rated
her as "excellent" and were sprinkled with repeated
phrases like "without a doubt, the best course and professor
of my time at U.Va."
Bruner, Darden School
professor: Harrison Award for Overall Teaching Excellence.
regarded as one of Darden's most demanding instructors, Bruner
is rated as a 5 on a scale of 1 5 on annual evaluations and
his classes are consistently over enrolled. "Students flock
to his classes ... and he is legendary for developing in students
a love of finance and learning."
D. Abbot, professor of biostatistics and professor of statistics
in the Departments of Health Evaluation Sciences and Statistics
in the School of Medicine: Harrison Award for Excellence in Graduate
Teaching in the Health System.
is "a professor who brings intelligence, sensitivity, and
insight to the very fabric of his subject and leads both by example
as a nationally known researcher, and by enthusiasm as a revered
and sought-after teacher and mentor." Students from across
disciplines vie to get into his classes. Said one student: "His
enthusiasm is an incredible stimulus for learning the subject."
Brian Wispelwey, professor of internal medicine and infectious
diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine in the School
of Medicine: Harrison Award for Overall Teaching Excellence
in the Health System.
his letter of nomination, Dean Robert Carey called Wispelwey "a
teacher par excellence ... he has demonstrated extraordinary excellence,
creativity, and commitment ... both inside and outside the classroom."
Wispelwey's students appear to agree. Evaluations repeatedly refer
to him as "the best attending I have ever had. ... an amazing
clinician and teacher."
Bluestone, Robin Dripps, Reuben Rainey, and Daphne Spain:
Harrison Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.
four share the award for an innovative team-taught course titled,
"Quest for Order," in the School
of Architecture. Bluestone is a professor of architectural
history, Dripps is a professor of architecture, Rainey is a professor
of landscape architecture, and Spain is a professor of urban and
environmental planning. (The four plan to donate their prize money
to graduate student fellowships.)
his letter of nomination, Provost Peter W. Low characterized the
architecture course taught by these four as "boldly innovative"
in its aim to "demonstrate to students not just an integrated
approach to four disciplines but a new way of thinking about the
whole enterprise of architectural study."
Harrison Awards are given to instructional faculty who, in the
previous academic year, demonstrated extraordinary excellence,
creativity, and commitment in the pursuit and dissemination of
knowledge in the classroom. The introduction of research and scholarship
into the learning environment also were considered in reviewing
were made by University vice presidents to President Casteen.
They reflected the opinions of the nominees' peers, as well as
their students. Together they painted pictures of truly gifted
teachers, whose work in the classroom has the ability to transform
the lives of their students.
1996, Harrison funded one-time bonuses to dozens of U.Va. faculty
as a precursor to the Board
of Visitors' comprehensive plan to make faculty salaries competitive
in the national labor market. The following year the Harrison
Awards were given to five teaching faculty and five administrative
faculty members whose work helped sustain the University's national
stature. Last year, the awards were given to 30 faculty members
for outstanding mentoring of University students.