Dec. 10, 1999-Jan. 13, 2000
Alumnus Frank Batten Sr. gives $60 million to Darden entrepreneurial institute
Eight U.Va. professors receive Harrison Teaching Awards
Policy changed to match U.Va. employees' free speech rights
In age of narrow specialization, a writer who does it all

Garrett to receive $10,000 Aiken Taylor Award for his poetry

Exhibit explores 300 years of American views on apocalypse
Hot Links -- Governmental Relations
In Memoriam
Y2K workers gear up, but expect a quiet night
U.Va. is ready for Y2K -- are you?
U.Va. gets $1 million IBM grant to develop e-business technologies
NEH challenge grant will boost E-text Center endowment
Legislative forum to be held Jan. 7
Entrepreneurial spirit continues to feed Frank Batten's success

Eight U.Va. professors receive Harrison Teaching Awards

By Carol Wood

Thanks 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.

The 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.

In announcing the 1999 Harrison Awards, President John T. Casteen III noted the importance of a program that provides tangible rewards for exemplary teaching.

"David 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."

The awards recognize a wide range of contributions to academic life, and extend across disciplines and schools.

Recipients include:

Heather Warren, associate professor in Religious Studies: the Harrison Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Warren 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."

Robert Bruner, Darden School professor: Harrison Award for Overall Teaching Excellence.

Long 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."

Robert 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.

Abbot 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."

Dr. 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.

In 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."

Daniel Bluestone, Robin Dripps, Reuben Rainey, and Daphne Spain: Harrison Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.

The 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.)

In 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."

The 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 candidates.

Nominations 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.

In 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.


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