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U.Va. Graduate Teaching Assistants Honored By Seven Society

April 21, 2000 -- Twelve graduate teaching assistants from throughout the University of Virginia were honored Thursday, April 20, at the Rotunda during the fourth annual Seven Society Awards Banquet.

The teaching assistants were 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. Unlike other teaching awards which are based on departmental or faculty recommendations, nominations for the Seven Society Fellowship are made solely by former students. The 2000 award, announced at the banquet, went to Dona Yarbrough of the Department of English.

The winner of the 2000 Dr. Frank Finger Graduate Fellowship also was announced at the banquet. Funded by a gift of J. Huston McCollough II in honor of Dr. Frank Finger, Alumni Professor of Psychology Emeritus, this 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 2000 fellowship went to Supriya Jaiswal of the Department of Physics.

Over 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 Samantha Wittchen and Arts and Sciences student representatives Robert Crow, Melissa Epperly and Jean Zachariasiewicz. Faculty members included architecture associate professor Lisa Reilly, mathematics assistant professor Jeffrey Holt, and Carol Hurney and Jann Lacoss of 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 12 teaching assistants could receive certificates and only one could win the $7,000 award, "the nomination process has produced a plethora of true winners–teaching assistants who have made a difference in students’ lives," she 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 Jaiswal and Yarbrough, included:

Patricia Bart (Department of English)
Karlyn Crowley (Department of English)
Ellen Daugherty (Department of Art History)
Hugh Dornan (Department of Classics)
John Frotzheim (Department of Government and Foreign Affairs)
Jessica Howell (Department of Economics)
Darby Morrisroe (Department of Government and Foreign Affairs)
E. William Murad (Department of Classics)
Kimberley Roberts (Department of English)
Todd Williams (Department of Mathematics)

For additional information about the award please contact Jann Lacoss at the Teaching Resource Center at (804) 982-2815.

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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