winners' ideas challenge their students
faculty members received the 2001 All-University Outstanding Teaching
Awards at a banquet April 11. In addition, for the first time,
two professors were
recognized for teaching University Seminars for first-year students.
In this issue and next, Inside UVA looks at what makes them award-winning
teachers. Last week, we featured the winners of the Alumni Association
Distinguished Professor Award and the Alumni Board of Trustees
Teaching Award. See http://www.virginia.edu/insideuva/awards.html
years ago, government professor Glenn Beamer stood beaming in
Dee Jays Rib Palace in Weirton, West Virginia. It
was perhaps an odd place to have my proudest teaching moment,
he recalls, but there it was two of my students were
talking with Weirton Steels vice president and a local politician
about economic development in the Upper Ohio Valley.
followed up on his students interest in urban politics by
arranging the series of field trips to Weirton for a research
project on the economy of a steel town. Their project won a David
A. Harrison III Undergraduate Research Award and, since they graduated,
other students have continued research based on Weirton.
assistant professor in Government
and Foreign Affairs since 1995, Beamer inspires students
to find out more about the world and about themselves and the
interconnection between the two, said Jeffrey W. Legro,
acting department chair.
encompasses what Jefferson wanted close-knit student-faculty
relationships, wrote students Katye Balls and Jason Huffman.
is one of those professors that you wish for as a teacher, but
you also get as a friend, they said. He taught us
that an A in a class is worthless if the class did not make you
mad a few times and force you out of your comfort zone. But
he does not dictate to students what they should learn. He seeks
out what is passionate to the individual student and makes them
build upon their passions.
In their course evaluations, students repeatedly noted his efforts
to solicit varied opinions and to challenge their thinking, making
classes more like a dialogue than a lecture. They
listed one of his strengths as his desire to make us aware
of our ability to create change in society.
doesnt shy away from important social issues: he has taught
a variety of courses, including Urban Politics, Gender Politics
and Public Policy, and the Politics of Poverty and Income Inequality.
He also designed an alternative spring break service-learning
seminar on housing and homelessness, taking students to Yonkers,
N.Y. And he just developed a new course for next fall on AIDS
Politics and Epidemiology.
colleague, government professor Larry Sabato, said about Beamers
teaching: This is the kind of creativity that enriches the
Lyus search for simple elegance has taken her from particle
physics to French poetry.
an assistant professor of French
considers the use of language a way to order, analyze and understand
the world. When mathematics and theoretical physics could no longer
explain what was important in her life there were no equations
for love Lyu switched languages. She left a graduate program
in biophysics at the University of California-Berkeley to pursue
a doctorate in French at Johns Hopkins University.
was not a drastic jump, Lyu said. The goal of particle
physics is to find the basic elements of the universe. Its
a language of utmost economy. And getting to the heart of an idea
with an economy of elegance, thats really what poetry does,
whose maternal grandmother was a poet in Korea, has brought scientific
rigor to the study of French literature and, especially, poetry.
experience, as an experience of foreignness, lies at the heart
of my teaching, Lyu said. I want my students to experience
a sense of displacement: to see another side
I try to make
them cross their own boundaries, so that they may become more
aware of and therefore more critical toward their
own assumptions, preconceptions, and limits. My goal is not only
to make them think but also to make them think about how they
result has been rave reviews of her teaching by students and colleagues.
their evaluations of Lyus courses, students wrote:
My education at U.Va. has been forever touched by this professor,
and I will cherish [Baudelaires] poetry till the day I die.
It changed the way I think about literature and life.
She constantly made me think and work to my potential and
The classroom atmosphere was joyous!
McKinley, former U.Va. French Department chair, in recommending
Lyu for the teaching award, wrote: Claire never rests on
her laurels. She often seeks advice from colleagues and has thereby
fostered more frequent conversations about teaching among us.
current department chair, Roland Simon: Claire Lyus
highly original scholarship enriches her intellectual contact
with her students. We love her as much as her students do.
with us now to those golden days of yesteryear
Anthony Spearings students, this means going to medieval
times, exploring the works of Chaucer, Dante, Chretien de Troyes
and Bernard of Clarivaux and making them come alive to modern
literature is not in most departments of English a crowd pleaser.
Its popularity at the University is owing in significant part
to Tony Spearing, whose seminars are instantly overenrolled and
whose lecture courses attract large numbers, said Patricia
Meyer Spacks, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English.
has taught an undergraduate course in Chaucers Canterbury
Tales involving close reading of several of the tales. He varies
his teaching methods throughout the course, starting with lecture
format to impart of lot of information, then shifting to readings,
brief translation exercises, practices in pronouncing the language
and group exercises.
is also noted for his graduate-level course, Mapping the
Middle Ages. Designed as a required course for medieval
specialists, it has become a popular course for students who have
a period requirement to satisfy and has drawn students from several
a basis for teaching, I know of no method that will substitute
for knowledge, curiosity and enthusiasm, but I add to these a
shameless exploitation of my own Englishness, said Spearing,
who spent 27 years as an Official Fellow at Queens College,
Cambridge. I often talk about the institutions with medieval
roots that were part of my formation (monarchy, the English Church,
Cambridge colleges) and in Mapping the Middle Ages,
I use photographs and slides of the parts of East Anglia where
I live in England to illustrate the material basis and the living
history of a strongly regional culture that reached its height
in the late Middle Ages.
Spearing, director of the Masters program in English and
Medieval Studies, has been part of the faculty since 1987. He
has written several books and is on the editorial board for The
also gets high marks from his students.
and Mr. Spearing went hand-in-hand, said Denis Ferhatovic.
M. Weikle II
M. Weikle II
commonly regarded by his students as one of the best teachers
theyve ever known, Robert M. Weikle II, associate professor
of electrical and computer
engineering, sees himself more as a tour guide for students
on a fascinating journey of discovery.
explorations in both classroom and laboratory are a mutual effort
where teacher and student challenge each other, teach each other
and learn from each other, he says. Effective teachers
are those who share their enthusiasm for a subject with students
while remembering that they are also fellow students.
teaches, and therefore studies, electromagnetic field theory and
microwave engineering. He takes highly complex material and makes
it accessible and interesting to his students through a combination
of lectures, discussions, class notes and open office hours. His
class notes are so well organized and filled with invaluable information,
his students have referred to them as the Microwaves Bible.
They have even suggested that he publish his notes as a textbook.
presentation of the material is so lucid and so well-structured
that students can see exactly how concepts build from basic principles
into a new and different approach for attacking problems and finally
into real world applications, said Todd Summers, a former
Weikle student. He truly rekindled my thrill for learning
and his courses are the ones that I remember most fondly.
as Bobby to his students, Weikle has open-door office hours, allowing
students to drop in at almost any time to discuss the complexities
of their studies. He is known as a highly demanding teacher, but
personally dedicated to helping his students accomplish their
best work. His own best w
has included two Young Faculty Teaching Awards from his department.
Bobby consistently achieves an instructor rating that is
one to two standard deviations above the mean in any level course
that he teaches, says James H. Aylor, chair of the Department
of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is, without question,
the best and most consistently highly-rated instructor currently
in our department. Bobbys dedication and sincere interest
in teaching has touched and affected not only numbers of students
but research collaborators and other colleagues. His teaching
skills and dedication should be a model for all of us.
week word leaked out that psychology professor Tim Wilson had
been nominated for a teaching award, several students a day stopped
by chair Peter Brunjes office, offering to write recommendations.
Wilsons classes, I came to view human behavior as a mystery
to be solved," wrote former student Dawn Moeller. "His
love of psychology was absolutely contagious."
courses he so magically orchestrates encourage students to become
totally absorbed in learning and thinking," wrote Toni Wegner,
former director of undergraduate studies in Psychology. "It
just doesnt get any better than that!"
introductory courses, Wilson said he prepares detailed outlines
for each lecture, illustrates each topic with video clips and
demonstrations, and uses concrete examples to make course material
relevant to students lives.
also encourages discussion, proffering his students a rare gift,
"absolute respect for their ideas," commented former
student Dana Dunn. "He has a quiet way of encouraging students
to speak and, when necessary, gently guiding them to consider
other possible ideas or interpretations."
smaller classes, Wilson assigns projects in which students attempt
to apply what they have learned to improving their own self-knowledge,
including analyzing their dreams and tracking their moods over
several weeks, trying to identify how factors such as sleep, exercise
and weather affect them.
encouraged us to explore our own actions and feelings in light
of the principles we were learning; and he supported us in the
process," wrote Moeller.
Several expressed appreciation regarding Wilsons efforts
on behalf of his department.
"A very moral and upright person [who] inspires trust,"
as director of graduate studies, Wilson "changed the position
forever," coming up with guidelines that all TAs, graders
and faculty could abide, Brunjes wrote.
is also a first-rate scholar, having enjoyed continuous support
of his social psychology research program from the National Science
Foundation and the National Institutes of Health for more than
author of Social Psychology, a popular textbook currently in its
third edition, and the forthcoming Strangers to Ourselves: Self-Insight
and the Adaptive Unconscious, he has also published over 50 articles.