The Right Stuff
U.Va. teachers honored for inspirational work
They have the right stuff, and they are everywhere.
Year after year, U.Va.students and faculty testify to the special
ability of teachers in their midst who help students grow, both
personally and intellectually.
dedication and caring characterize the faculty nominated for University-wide
awards. The 2003 winners, selected by a committee from nominations
backed by numerous testimonials, will be honored May 1 in the
Rotunda at the 13th annual In Celebration of Teaching
banquet. Honorees include:
Cronmiller, associate professor of biology: the Cavaliers
Distinguished Teaching Professorship. The endowed two-year chair,
honoring excellent teaching, is partly supported by athletic bowl
Schwartz, associate professor of architecture: 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.
Freedman, assistant professor of politics: the Alumni
Board of Trustees Teaching Award. The award is made 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
Kulbok, associate professor of nursing: the USEMS Outstanding
Teaching Award. The award goes to a faculty member who has taught
with unusual success in the University Seminars program for first-year
students. The award recognizes outstanding efforts to promote
critical thinking skills and carries a $1,500 prize.
of All-University Teaching Awards, each carrying a $2,000 prize
and recognizing ability to inspire and motivate students, appear
on the following pages.
Winners of University Teaching Fellowships, assistant professors
chosen for their promise of becoming eminent researchers and inspiring
teachers, also appear at the bottom of this page.
brings caring to classroom
class rocked!!! one student said.
A genetics class? Absolutely - when taught by Claire Cronmiller,
associate professor of biology.
genetics lecture class, required of all biology majors, is exceedingly
difficult and often dreaded by students, until they hear through
the rumor mill that she cares while expecting the best from her
wont care what we know until they know that we care,
is the teaching philosophy Cronmiller lives by. Once she began
following that dictum, she said, the rigid façade
of the dispassionate lecturer came down. She searches for
ways to bring concepts and facts to life, as
well as for opportunities to make learning those concepts and
method works. Cronmiller receives uniformly high praise from her
students, not only for presenting difficult material clearly and
interestingly, but also for showing she cares by offering extended
office hours , extensive responses to student e-mails and a personable,
demonstrates her love for genetics, and her students, by creative
teaching that includes introducing her pet Himalayan rabbit to
illustrate the concept of conditional gene expression,
to writing and performing a rap song on genetics.
shows the fun of juggling
is like juggling, says Paul Freedman.
Its difficult and requires a good deal of practice,
patience and concentration, he says. But when done
well, it can be exciting, rewarding and like juggling knives
or balls of fire even a little bit dangerous.
assistant professor of politics, Freedman has juggled courses
in American government at U.Va. since 1997. He takes risks in
his courses, trying to challenge the best students while not abandoning
always answered questions respectfully, no matter how dumb the
question was, one student noted in his evaluation.
tries to show students how political theory plays out in the circus
of real politics. Described as a rising star in American politics
by Robert Fatton Jr., chairman of the politics departments, Freedman
has a reputation as a dynamic and generous teacher.
believes the ultimate challenge is to communicate the dirty
little secret of education: that learning - engaging
with ideas, making connections, formulating and testing hypothesis,
gathering data, seeing how it all fits together, reveling in new
insights - is a joyous endeavor.
important for students to see that the juggler loves what he does,
that he is having fun.
prepares students for challenges
Kulbok is the kind of teacher who changes students lives.
student Lorena S. Yoon struggled with English as a second language,
but the tide turned when she received positive comments from Kulbok.
I have so much more confidence ... that I am equipped to
do a good job because a teacher saw potential in my abilities.
who teaches in the University seminars program for first-year
students, has a strong commitment to building confidence in her
students. Her supportive style of teaching is particularly helpful
to students who have come from an under-privileged background
or are struggling with English as a second language.
seeking ways to engage students to become passionate about health,
she used one of her courses so students could examine their own
health risks, including risky behaviors such as smoking.
who came to U.Va. in 1991, teaches courses in community and home
health nursing and health promotion.
I am a successful as a teacher, said Kulbok, my students
are prepared to face the mounting challenges to public health.
... The potential of this type of success is the ultimate motivation
and thrill of teaching.
Katherine Thompson Jackson
links architecture ed and profession
introductory design classes to advanced courses on ethics and
professional issues, architecture design students praise Kenneth
Schwartz for his impact on their educations.
student Rebecca L. Garnett said, He taught me to think about
the actual people, how their lives will be affected, and then
how they can affect the life of a place.
has spearheaded the development of a curriculum that championed
a liberal arts education while providing a foundation for entry
into the profession. He also has increased the number of women
and minority faculty and students.
an African-American female within the field of architecture, I
am particularly proud of Professor Schwartzs commitment
to diversity, said Susan Carpenter, an alumna and lecturer
in the School of Architecture.
academic spheres, Schwartz is committed to civic work at local
and national levels. In Charlottesville, he has served on various
boards and is the founding director of the Design Resources Center.
is the embodiment of the enlightened professional who puts his
indefatigable energy, enormous skill and profound expertise to
work in the service of a better society, said architecture
professor William Sherman.
who help students grow
finds formula that inspires
a graduate student, Gerard Alexanders ideas for his teaching
came from his research.
its the opposite.
my first book neared completion and I began to think systematically
about new subjects, I found that many of my new thoughts were
coming from my teaching: My work in the classroom was becoming
generative instead of derivative, said Alexander, who has
taught comparative politics for the department since 1996. That
has remained the case ever since.
says the change in approach has affected the way he teaches, and
students have taken notice.
all the courses that Ive taken while here, it has stimulated
me to think the most, wrote one student.
Fatton Jr., chairman of the politics department, describes Alexander
as a gifted and enthusiastic teacher who is also a demanding instructor.
put, he is a great teacher, and while he is very popular with
students, he does not sacrifice substance in the name of style
or popularity, Fatton said.
Dienstag, associate chairman, adds, He has held the line
on grades while basically being wildly popular with students:
Thats as sound an indication as you can have of his excellence.
balance characterizes Cushman
and Estates is a subject you need to take to be a lawyer.
It deals with the technical points of wills and probate, a field
with its own difficult terminology and rules. At U.Va., this basic
course is often taught by one of the countrys leading legal
historians, Barry Cushman.
might think the subject dry. But Cushman teaches it with
such verve and humor that it quickly became my favorite course
that term, one student recalled.
Such raves are not unusual. Cushmans student evaluations
are perennially among the highest in the Law School,
said Dean John Jeffries.
is also known for the total commitment he brings to everything
he undertakes, said his colleague Michael Klarman. His scholarship
has changed thinking about modern constitutional history, and
his joint-degree program in legal history has produced four recent
U.S. Supreme Court clerks.
has achieved the perfect balance of being, at the same time,
relentlessly demanding, enormously popular and genuinely caring,
wrote Amanda Biles, a recent graduate.
own teachers inspired him. Concern for ones students
requires a teacher to find and highlight ways of looking at the
material that will inspire their interest and curiosity,
creates community through art
Dean Dass, professor of studio art and internationally exhibited
printmaker, teaching creativity is more than nurturing talent
and conveying technique its all about an artistic
makes Deans teaching so exceptional is that he engages with
students as fellow artists and collaborators. He believes in his
students and in their talents and intelligence and actively works
to help them achieve great things, said Rob Walker, a studio
art distinguished major.
encourages students to incorporate an art history, philosophy
or political context into their studio work. He challenges and
inspires them while being critical and supportive, and provides
links to the professional world.
arriving at U.Va. in 1985, Dass has led an expansion of the studio
art program to include visiting artists who exhibit their work
and interact with students in studio. He is also primarily responsible
for creating the Aunspaugh Fifth-Year Program, when talented art
majors can create portfolios before applying to M.F.A. programs.
O. Goedde, professor of art history and chairman of the department,
said, Perhaps Deans greatest achievement has been
in his creating within the studio program as a whole an artistic
community embracing students, faculty and alumni in a common creative
helps students find meaning
Haidt makes a bold offer to his 550 or so students on the first
day of his Psychology 101 class. He offers to help them find the
meaning of life by the last lecture.
enough, one student said, every lecture built up to
a grand finale holding the possible meaning of life.
each person has to find that meaning on his or her own, Haidt
learn not just that psychology is powerful, but that it is powerful
in their own hands, he said. College students are
actively trying to figure out who they want to be, and psychology
can show them how to get there.
is always a long waiting list for Haidts introductory psychology
class. One first-year student actually found a future there.
called my mother to tell her I had chosen a major, and possibly
a career, in psychology. Through his eloquence of speech and dynamic
personality, he imparted a passion for psychology, the student
are numerous such stories.
Wilson, chairman of the psychology department, said Haidt is
a superstar in the classroom, as well as a caring, attentive mentor
to undergraduates and graduate students.
style, caring make for packed classrooms
Jordan doesnt just present material once in class and assume
its the students responsibility to learn it.
explains concepts one way, then from another angle, then from
yet another. He seeks out creative in-class demonstrations, at
various times employing squirt guns, toy trucks, olives and pints
of Guinness stout. He schedules help sessions on the nights before
homework sets are due and lures students to exam review sessions
with free pizza.
efforts inside and outside the classroom always gave me a sense
of his passion for teaching, wrote one student. He
wanted to give his students every opportunity to learn.
what does Jordan teach? Something easy, right?
ocean engineering and fluid mechanics. Before DoJo,
the course was rumored to be dull and boring. Now students are
signing up for the first time in the 20 years that I have
been on the faculty here, marveled colleague James C. McDaniel
Jr. Don is using a difficult book and gives lots of homework,
so it is certainly not a gut course.
fact, students have paid him the ultimate tribute. He fills
classrooms full of fourth-year students at 8 a.m., week after
week, semester after semester, one said.
with everypatient comes a life story
hospital nursery can be an intimidating place for young medical
students, but Dr. Mark J. Mendelsohn quickly puts them at ease.
simply exudes tranquility and patience, said graduating
student Courtney Judd. He is extremely intuitive and knew
just when to ask if we needed something clarified.
awards are nothing new to Mendelsohn. As a resident at U.Va. in
the 1980s and later on the pediatrics faculty at the University
of Pittsburgh, he has been honored repeatedly as a role model
joining the U.Va. faculty in 1996, he has been a favorite among
students and residents alike because of his enthusiasm and excellence,
said Dr. Gregory Hayden, professor of pediatrics.
of the things that amazed me was how much emphasis he put on learning
about the entire patient, added student Paul McIntosh. He
taught us to realize that with every patient comes a life story
and not just a disease.
includes educating patients and their families.
patient-physician relationship is being eroded by outside forces
and increased dependence on technology, he said. He hopes
to show students how to make patients feel comfortable and trusting.
is a vital part of how I teach.
has special place in sacred line
Pam Roland talks about teaching, its as if shes preaching.
be a teacher is to join hands in a long, sacred line with others
who have invested themselves in their students, writes Roland.
I often tell those about to become teachers that this is
passion has won accolades from students eager to learn about curriculum,
distance education and switching careers in the classes she has
taught through U.Va.s School of Continuing and Professional
took a bunch of motley professionals and made them into beginning
teachers, said one Hopewell woman who left advertising and
software development to become a teacher.
spent 14 years as an English teacher in Newport News, giving her
solid grounding for her eventual niche of inspiring new teachers.
She has designed and delivered more than 75 courses taught in
more than 120 localities in the state and has developed workshops
and courses for staff involved in all aspects of education.
is at heart a teacher of teachers, said Sondra Stollard,
dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Her
curiosity and willingness to learn inspire those with whom she
works and those whom she teaches.
savor Smolkin experience
a good book, Laura Smolkin enthralls students of reading and writing.
Not many doctoral students would gush that they savored
every moment of their dissertation experience, but Curry School
Ph.D. Jennifer Kovatch did.
now an assistant professor at the Roanoke center of U.Va.s
School of Continuing and Professional Studies, credited Smolkin,
an education professor who specializes in reading and language
arts instruction, with giving her priceless treasures of guidance,
encouragement and knowledge. Smolkin is described by other students
was no way one of her students could give up on the idea of becoming
a teacher, because our class was constantly enthralled by her
excitement, her positive approach and most of all, her leadership,
said Kathryn Ann Donovan, who finished the five-year teaching
program in December.
who came to U.Va. in 1996, said that she has learned that students
are best able to meet high expectations when the instructor provides
equally high levels of support and excellence.
Dean David Breneman noted, She models the very behaviors
we hope to see our teacher education graduates carry into their
classrooms compassion, creativity and caring, coupled with
high standards and expectations.