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U.Va. Graduate Teaching Assistants Honored By Seven Society

April 22, 1999 -- Eleven graduate teaching assistants from throughout the University of Virginia were honored April 21 at the Rotunda during the Third Annual Seven Society Awards Banquet.

The teaching assistants are among the finalists for the Seven Society Graduate Fellowship for Superb Teaching, a $7,000 award initiated by the Seven Society to recognize a graduate teaching assistant who embodies the highest ideals of teaching at the University: dedication to students, substantial knowledge of the subject matter, and skill in conveying passion for that knowledge. The 1999 award, announced at the banquet, went to Amy Feely of the Department of History.

The winner of the 1999 Dr. Frank Finger Graduate Fellowship also was announced at the banquet. Funded by a bequest of J. Huston McCollough III in honor of Frank Finger, emeritus professor of psychology, the fellowship for $4,000 is awarded each year to a graduate teaching assistant from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, in recognition of stimulating and organized classroom teaching. The 1999 fellowship went to Michael Thomas of the Department of Religious Studies.

Unlike other teaching awards which are based on departmental or faculty recommendations, nominations for the Seven Society Fellowship are made solely by former students. Nearly 100 undergraduates from throughout the various schools of the University responded to the call for nominations, writing lengthy letters via e-mail detailing why their TA was most deserving of this award.

Undergraduate involvement continued into the selection process as four students served on the selection committee. These included Engineering student Patrick Hickie and Arts and Sciences student representatives Jan Dodoo, Chris Slack, and Jovita Brantley. Faculty members included associate professors Dean Harman of Chemistry (chair of the selection committee) and Lisa Reilly of Architecture; assistant dean Paxton Marshall of Engineering; and Jann Lacoss, faculty consultant at the Teaching Resource Center.

"The decisions of the committee were difficult, given the high standards set by the finalists," said Lacoss. "The nominees for this award exemplify outstanding teaching at the University. They have quite obviously had a great impact on undergraduates and are all worthy of recognition for their accomplishments."

Despite the fact that only 11 teaching assistants could receive certificates and only one won the $7,000 monetary award, the nomination process has produced a plethora of true winners -- teaching assistants who have made a difference in students' lives, Lacoss said. "The quality and quantity of nominations received from students is a testament to the excellence of teaching assistants at the University."

Finalists honored, in addition to Feely and Thomas, included:

Liam Buckley (Department of Anthropology)

John Froitzheim (Department of Government and Foreign Affairs)

Suzanne Guihard (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Department of Materials Science)

Sarah Hand (Department of History)

Clare Kilbane (Curry School of Education, Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Policy)

Fred Klunk (Department of Economics)

Hun Lye (Department of Religious Studies)

Ann Martella (Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese)

Trent Teti (Department of Philosophy)

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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