by Rebecca Arrington
U.Va. honoring great teaching
By Robert Brickhouse
inspiring group of U.Va. professors and graduate teaching assistants,
all at different stages of their careers but sharing an extraordinary
dedication to their students learning, has been chosen to
receive this years University-wide awards celebrating outstanding
teaching. Insightful, stimulating and
demanding were among the traits often cited by students
and colleagues to describe them.
honorees, selected by a committee from numerous well-crafted nominations
with supporting testimonials, will be honored April 23 in the
Rotunda at the Universitys 11th annual In Celebration
of Teaching banquet. Vice President and Provost Gene D.
Block and Teaching Resource Center Director Marva A. Barnett will
present the awards.
award winners include:
Barbara M. Brodie, professor of nursing:
The Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award. The annual
award is given to a faculty member who has excelled as a teacher,
shown unusual concern for students and made significant contributions
to University life for at least a decade. The winner receives
a $2,500 prize.
Eugene Kolomeisky, assistant professor of physics:
The Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Award. The award is given
to an assistant professor for demonstrated skill in teaching and
carries a $1,000 prize, with $1,500 in additional support, and
offers a semesters research assignment.
of All-University Teaching Awards, each carrying a $2,000 prize
and recognizing ability to inspire and motivate students, are:
Robert E. Davis, associate professor of environmental
Sherwood C. Frey Jr., professor, Darden
Graduate School of Business Administration
Adria LaViolette, associate professor
J.E. (Ted) Lendon, associate professor
Michael J. Smith, associate professor
John Sullivan, associate professor
Peter D. Waldman, professor of architecture
Barbara H. Wixom, assistant professor,
McIntire School of Commerce
Brad Brown, professor of commerce, was named winner of the
USEMs Outstanding Teaching Award, given to a faculty member who
has taught especially successfully in the University Seminars
program of intensive classes for first-year students. The award
recognizes outstanding efforts to promote critical thinking skills
and carries a $1,500 prize.
honored at the banquet will be:
Daniel P. Hallahan, professor of education, chosen to receive
the Cavaliers Distinguished Teaching Professorship. The
rotating endowed professorship that recognizes excellent teaching
is partly supported by football bowl earnings.
Cristina Della Coletta, associate professor of Italian,
this years recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities/Horace
W. Goldsmith Distinguished Teaching Professorship. The three-year
rotating endowed professorship rewards excellent teaching in the
humanities and enables recipients to undertake projects to share
expertise with colleagues.
students see big picture
many students in the School
of Nursing, their first impression probably is their most
Dr. Barbara Brodie and her Introduction to Nursing class.
with our students first day in McLeod [Hall], she shares
her enthusiasm for nursing. She inspires students to see the big
picture of the nursing profession while never losing sight
of the individual interactions that are the heart of nursing,
said Dr. V.L. Brashers, associate professor of nursing and clinical
assistant professor of medicine.
few years ago, former students helped vote Brodie one of the universitys
top 10 favorite professors in a U.Va. alumni magazine. Alumni
also in 1988 established the Barbara Brodie Scholars Award, the
first endowment created on behalf of a female faculty member.
she has become a self-assured leader over the course of 30 years
at the University, Brodies first day in front of a class
made its own impression.
was the most frightening, challenging and exhilarating experience
in my life, she recalled. Conveying facts, she learned,
was not enough. More essential is the students ability
to learn to think critically about new information and its uses.
That dedication to critical thinking along with Brodies
passion, integrity and personal caring has made a profound
impact on her students.
certainly challenged me to develop critical thinking skills to
examine nursing issues, and she encouraged each of us to not assume
anything and always ask questions, said one former student.
Briggs, another student, said, I feel that Dr. Brodie is
genuinely concerned about students at the University of Virginia.
By Lee Graves
work as natural as blue skies
and teaching dont always go hand in hand, but for Robert
E. Davis, they are as natural as blue skies and white clouds.
A climatologist by training, he teaches students about the weather
and atmosphere complex and dynamic subjects. Since coming
to the University in 1989, he has consistently earned excellent
ratings from his students.
[Davis] does not separate his pedagogy from his scholarship,
said environmental sciences
Chair Bruce Hayden in his letter of nomination. He takes
great pride in his teaching and gets the emotional return that
all excellent teachers find in the classroom. The seamless merger
of teaching and research at all levels of instruction is, in my
view, the hallmark of great research universities.
Dolan, professor of environmental sciences, wrote, It all
starts with his love of his subject and the great pleasure and
personal pride he takes in presenting excellent lectures.
LHeureux, a fourth-year environmental sciences major, said,
Davis has a touch for making a somewhat mundane phenomenon, the
weather, into one of the most interesting courses within the undergraduate
curricula. He shuns PowerPoint, a common sleep aid, rolls up his
sleeves, picks up a piece of chalk and uses his engaging lecture
skills to communicate a subject he clearly loves.
adds that Davis sets aside extra time for explaining difficult
concepts to his students. It is obvious that the education
of his students is a top priority, she said.
By Fariss Samarrai
is outstanding educator, mentor and community member
he begins a class, I cannot help but sit up straight in my chair,
clear my mind and smile, said Darden
School student Kerry Feldmann of professor Sherwood C. Frey
of Dardens pedagogical mantras is student-centered
learning, Feldmann noted. The case method relies
on student participation, but it is a blunt instrument in the
wrong hands. With Sherwood, it is an art form.
student Lee Fiedler said, Dr. Frey has encouraged me and
countless others to use the tools he gives us to approach the
world creatively and make it a better place. He demonstrates
his commitment to this idea by traveling to the Middle East to
teach, working with student organizations like Darden Outreach
and the Black Business Student Forum, which he helped found, and
by his involvement in local philanthropic organizations such as
Habitat for Humanity, Fiedler said.
Darden faculty member has ever done more to develop others to
be outstanding teachers at Darden and elsewhere, noted James
R. Freeland, professor and associate dean for faculty at Darden.
of who I am today as a teacher has been shaped by Sherwood,
said colleague Marc Modica. His love of teaching is obvious
and infectious. You can tell when hes on his way to class
from a distance: his walk is deliberate, his attention focused
hes on a mission.
As a result, [classroom]
discussions are full of spontaneity, creativity, humor and all-around
his teaching philosophy, Frey said, I am guided by several
simple tenets: accentuate the need to learn; walk in the students
shoes; question more than answer; trust the process; and share
the joys of success and the disappointments of failure.
teaches beauty of physics
B. Kolomeisky wants his physics
students to see beyond equations and particles.
important point is to convince students that physics (and science
generally) is beautiful, even though it presents its artwork in
a rather foreign language, he wrote in responding to his
nomination for a University-wide teaching award. Equally,
they should be convinced that it is possible for them to master
the subject and see the beauty.
ability to translate that foreign language for his
students is apparent in the kudos he has received since coming
to U.Va. in 1997.
Kolomeisky embodies the three essential traits which make a teacher
outstanding: a detailed knowledge of the subject matter, a true
desire to see his students succeed and the ability to present
the material in a way that the students are able to understand,
wrote David Williams, one of his graduate students.
a native of Ukraine who studied in Moscow before coming to the
United States and becoming a naturalized citizen, also won the
physics departments teaching award in 2000.
Kolomeisky excels in that he is able to walk that line between
professionalism and humanity without any sense of awkwardness,
wrote Jessica Reeves, another of his students.
mathematics necessary to grasp graduate-level physics courses
can leave students in utter confusion if not taught
properly, noted Thomas F. Gallagher, department chair and Jesse
W. Beams Professor of Physics. But Kolomeiskys ability to
synthesize material and present it clearly as a coherent whole
make him stand out.
excellent teaching has played a significant part in the improving
morale of graduate students, Gallagher wrote in his nominating
By Lee Graves
High standards teach
day of class in intro history
course, Ancient Greece. Professor seems nice, energetic, fascinating
with his lecture, almost as if he knows some kind of classical
oratory. Then comes the warning: There will be much hard reading
of Greek authors, facts to be memorized. And, my favorite
letter in the alphabet is F.
the courses that associate professor J.E. (Ted) Lendon teaches
in classical civilization continue to draw streams of students
and lead them to take more.
clear, mixing rhetoric with humor, he knows the art of making
his points in ways that one is unlikely to forget, says
a colleague, Joseph Kett. In his classical warfare class, he organizes
armies on the Lawn and leads them in full Roman military attire.
students evaluations are consistently euphoric,
rhapsodic, said Michael Holt, former chair of the
history department. They also repeatedly grouse that his
courses are the most rigorous and demanding in terms of work-load,
expectations and stringent grading that they have taken at the
is never a wasted class, never a useless assignment, and never
a pointless digression, said Arts
& Sciences undergraduate Carolynn Roncaglia.
who joined the faculty in 1997 after teaching at MIT, says that
the traditional approach to teaching classical civilization emphasizes
how much the ancients are us. I emphasize just as much how
utterly different they are. When we come to know people unlike
ourselves, we grow.
for his famously tough approach: High standards teach. Students
must be asked to learn a great deal, have what they must learn
laid out for them with a terrible glaring clarity, and then they
must be compelled actually to learn by making them display their
By Robert Brickhouse
dig LaViolettes courses
the most striking thing about Adria LaViolettes teaching
is her ability to span areas that appear disparate.
an associate professor of anthropology,
her primary research interest is the archaeology of Swahili villages
in Tanzania dating from the eighth to the 16th centuries A.D.,
yet she also teaches courses on early European archaeology, as
well as a popular course on modern-day Peoples and Cultures of
laud her passion for the past and her ability to apply
its lessons to the present. I was admittedly skeptical about
the interest and excitement potential of a subject such as African
archaeology. It was something of a revelation to me, then, when
she brought such knowledge to life by making it immediately relevant
to my own insular life, wrote fourth-year student Katherine
Grillo, who now plans to pursue African archaeology in graduate
graduate students such as Donald Gaylord say they learn as much
from her classes as undergrads. Making the material neither
too simple for graduate students, nor too hard for undergraduates,
make[s] sure that each student has fully grasped the
material at hand.
passion and dynamism in the classroom are complemented by her
accessibility outside it. I feel it is particularly important
to help students keep their academic and personal lives integrated
in the university setting, and to provide advice about how to
take their academic interests into life after college, she
follow her path. She regularly takes U.Va. undergraduates and
grad students along to her Tanzanian digs, and she notes that
over the years as many as a dozen former students have gone on
to study-abroad programs in Africa and even into the Peace Corps.
By Dan Heuchert
motivates his students to work harder
Smith possesses that rare ability and courage to push students
to the limits of their academic capabilities and this is
why the best students at U.Va. seek him out to be their teacher,said
Irene Oh, a Ph.D .candidate in the Department
of Religious Studies. Thought becomes disciplined in
Prof. Smiths seminars.
Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought and
director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Political and Social
Thought, has taught at U.Va. since 1988 and has led the Program
of Political and Social Thought for the past three years.
try to help all students, from undergraduates to Ph.D. supervisees,
find their own, most effective, voice; when they succeed, nothing
provides me with greater satisfaction, Smith said. Not
all students learn in the same way; and thus to engage them as
individual learners one has to listen and observe. Teaching should
not be a standard shtick, one routine for all. I try to vary my
responses to students according to my judgment of what they may
is rigorous in his approach to the written language, denouncing
passive voice in students papers and fixing citation formats.
Smith taught me more about writing than all my English courses
have, combined, said Bryan G. Maxwell, a student. When
I leave U.Va., the As I finally earned on papers for Mr.
will be the academic achievement of which I am most
Professor of Ethics James F. Childress, director of the Institute
for Practical Ethics, was among Smiths peers who praised
him. Childress, who participated in several seminars and panels
with Smith, cited his leadership skills.
Smith is one of the U.Va.s real treasures, Childress
By Matt Kelly
closes gap between past and read-about past
say John Sullivans office is cluttered might be an understatement.
His office never fails to look like a hurricane hit,
said one student who took several courses from Sullivan.
Burlij, another student, recalled his first visit. I had
to watch my step walking in, as the floor was covered with old-time
radio programs on cassette tape and sheet music from vaudeville,
minstrel and other variety theater shows, he wrote in a
artifacts Sullivan collects for his Radio Made America, Mass Media,
American Studies and other courses arent just for show and
tell. Theyre to bring the past and his students
longer I have taught, the more artifact-centered my classes have
become, Sullivan said. I want to try to close the
distance between the read-about past and the past.
an associate professor in the English
Department, has been praised not only for spicing up the past,
but also for requiring Web-based research from students, for helping
faculty develop the American Studies program and for being an
peers see a colleague who takes learning far beyond the classroom.
I regularly return to my own office to find several students
milling about in the hallway, waiting their turns while another
student is spending half an hour or more in Johns office.
I envy him both the attraction students feel to him and the good-natured
patience with which he handles it, wrote English professor
came to the English Department in 1995 after having served in
the Rhetoric and Communication Studies program since 1967. A
change in departments meant retooling, redesigning and rediscovering
content, he wrote.
That was both exhilarating and frustrating, he said, but the result
has been classes and relationships students dont forget.
have never felt more fulfilled as a student, Burlij wrote.
By Lee Graves
gives students solid footing in architecture
Waldman teaches new ways to see and think.
as an award-winning designer and teacher, he is also a mentor
and guide who brings all his life experiences to the understanding
of architecture and inspires his students to do the same. After
a class with him, students say, they never think about the world
the same way again.
William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Architecture,
challenges his students to see not just the architecture of a
place, but the spirit of it as well.
Peter teaches whether behind a lectern or across a dining
table, said graduate student Andrew Burdick. His ability
to teach in such a myriad of locations is due to his ability to
learn alongside his students.
touches students lives whether teaching first-year architecture
courses or graduate design studios. In Lessons on the Lawn,
a University-wide class Waldman created two years ago, he introduces
views of architecture that go beyond bricks, mortar and columns.
presents architecture as a profoundly cultural event, one of civic
and artistic nature, similar to literature and art, but also an
event that is grounded in ethics and inspires citizenship, similar
to philosophy, said another graduate student, Roxi J. Thoren.
the first day of class in Architecture 101, Waldman asks students:
Where do you come from? and Where do you now
their last day, graduating students meet him on the Lawn for a
sunrise barefoot walk. Out of the darkness comes reorientation
and we walk away, stained for life by the literal turf of Common
Ground as a lingering response to Mr. Jeffersons visceral
and ethical project, Waldman wrote in his statement to the
By Jane Ford
warehousing whiz, Wixom, makes learning fun
Wixom believes that most good business ideas can be explained
in a hurry. In her data warehousing class, the assistant professor
at the McIntire School
of Commerce has her students act out a 45-second elevator
ride with a corporate chief during which they have to explain
a business concept.
years later, I still feel comfortable verbalizing the concepts
that she teaches, wrote Zachary Zimet, a former student
who described her class as the toughest and best management information
systems class he took at McIntire.
Wixoms enthusiasm fires up her students in a field not generally
linked with wild excitement.
think that any person who can take a subject like database management
and turn it into something fun and interesting possesses a great
gift, wrote April Perera, another former student.
is not alone in her assessment. In their course evaluations, students
rave about her teaching: Very enthusiastic good at
explaining difficult concepts in an exciting manner. Her
enthusiasm and knowledge were really inspiring. Genuine
concern for students. One of the best teachers Ive
Wixom is not only a superb teacher, but she is also an exemplary
scholar, noted Carl P. Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School
of Commerce, in his letter of recommendation. She is recognized
internationally as an expert on data warehousing and has
been published in the top journals in the field of Management
Information Systems. In 1999, the Society for Information Management
recognized Wixom as having written the best paper of the year.
Echols scholar, Wixom graduated from the University in 1991 and
returned o teach in 1998.
are days when I honestly cant wait to get into the classroom
and share a wonderful finding that I know my students will appreciate,
Wixom writes. What a blessing it is to be a teacher.
By Charlotte Crystal