IAH Faculty Teaching Award Winners Announced

The Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities (CISAH) recently announced the winners of this year’s Faculty Teaching Awards, which include the Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, Somers Award for Excellence in Teaching, IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants, and the Service to IAH Award. 

The Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities recognizes outstanding faculty who, in keeping with the goals of integrative studies, seek to engage students with arts and humanities ways of knowing and to assist them in developing critical thinking and effective communication skills. The award is made possible thanks to an endowment provided by Professor Ken Waltzer, former Director of CISAH, to honor his father.

This year’s Fintz Award recipients are:

  • Catalina Bartlett
  • Shreena Gandhi
  • Katie McEwen
  • Dan Smith
  • Jan Stryz

The Somers Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes graduate teaching assistants who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence, innovation, and creativity in undergraduate teaching. Nominees are recommended by faculty and students for their ability to promote meaningful student-teacher interaction as well as in creating a classroom environment that encourages active learning and critical thinking.

This year’s Somers Award recipients are:

  • Jen Andrella
  • Jeffrey Davis
  • Nicole Huff
  •  Arlo Kaczor
  • Clay Oppenhuizen
  • Alison Sall
  • Ethan Veenhuis

The IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants is a relatively new award and is for faculty who provide outstanding mentorship, support, and professional development for their GAs who teach IAH classes.

This year’s IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants recipient is:

  • Marcia Ray

The Service to IAH Award acknowledges those who contribute to the work of IAH curriculum, assessment, and other programmatic efforts.

This year’s Service to IAH Award recipients are:

  • Garth Sabo
  • Stokes Schwartz

“Every year, the Faculty Advisory Committee and I are bowled over by the award winners’ extraordinary level of teaching achievement,” said Ellen Moll, Assistant Director of CISAH. “These faculty and graduate instructors use innovative methods to help students of all majors learn how the arts and humanities enrich their own lives and the wider world. They promote critical thinking, creativity, and deeply meaningful learning while fostering caring and supportive classroom communities, which has been especially important in these unprecedented times. They, and the many other superb instructors of IAH, teach in ways that are truly transformative for students.”

The IAH Faculty Teaching Awards are made possible by the Irving S. Waltzer FAS Endowment and the Louis & Randy Somers Endowment.

“The generosity of these donors has enabled IAH to reward the dedication, caring, and pedagogical expertise of instructors for many years,” Moll said. “The long-term impact on dozens of instructors and thousands of students cannot be overstated.”

Fintz Award Recipients:

Catalina Bartlett

Catalina Bartlett, Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, taught the IAH 207 course, “Bodies, Land, and Power,” in Fall 2021, which focused on unpacking “how bodies move through/in land bases and are (re)shaped by power.”

The Fintz Awards Committee was impressed with Bartlett’s creation of a course framework that promoted active learning and engaged students as citizens. Students visited the Broad Museum, analyzed an index poem with a visiting author, and created projects that applied theory to their own lives and experiences. Students noted that Bartlett provided an intellectually challenging environment where they felt supported and empowered to work through new, complex concepts.   

Shreena Gandhi

Shreena N. Gandhi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, taught IAH 211C, “Religion and Race in America,” in Spring and Fall 2021, which focused on the long history of racism in the United States, with the intersections of religion, race, and white supremacy being especially timely, as students recognized in their evaluations.

The Fintz Awards Committee was impressed by the way Gandhi created an inclusive and supportive online learning environment while at the same time seriously challenging her students intellectually and emotionally, despite the taxing conditions of working during a pandemic. Gandhi’s classes adopted a holistic pedagogical approach that shed light on the interacting societal forces by bridging gaps between different fields and integrating the arts and humanities. Student comments noted that in doing so, they received a broader picture of current U.S. society, one that opened their eyes and minds to become more effective citizens. 

Katie McEwen

Kathryn McEwen, Assistant Professor of German in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures and core faculty in the Center for Gender in Global Context, taught IAH 209, “Autopsy: Visual Culture and Body Politics,” and IAH 206, “Snoop: Self, Surveillance, and Technologies of Control” in Spring and Fall 2021.  

The Fintz Awards Committee was impressed by the creative ways McEwen engaged her students in various projects to explore the course content, which was thoughtful and innovative. Many students noted her empathetic and responsive nature as well as the clarity and organization of the course content. Perhaps, most importantly, a number of students specifically noted that they had never thought about these issues before, and that the course had changed the way they viewed the world.

Dan Smith

Daniel Smith, Assistant Professor of Theater Studies in the Department of Theater, taught IAH 241D, “Theater and Society.” His passion for teaching is infectious, as evidenced by student comments on the course. His successful use of discussion boards allowed students to appreciate the subject matter from multiple perspectives.

The Fintz Awards Committee was impressed by the way Smith used innovative pedagogical techniques to help students arrive at a deeper appreciation of artistic creativity in theater, as manifested in various historical contexts. The committee also was impressed by Smith’s ability to connect effectively with students and to provide memorable examples and anecdotes to convey his lessons, noting how well he connected with his students to make the course supportive, engaging, and eye-opening. 

Jan Stryz

Jan Stryz, Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, taught IAH 231B, “Ethics and Empathy in Medicine and the Humanities,” and stood out with both an innovative approach to the course and exceptional responses from students who reported that they learned a great deal because Professor Stryz pushed them to do their best, and they felt that she was always there to help.

The students gained a great sense of empathy related to the subject matter and learned about important perspectives from diverse communities as well as those who are elderly, those who live with serious illness, and others. As one student noted, “I thought it was very nice to really dig into what it means to be a truly empathetic person, and how to be one. This course just made us better humans.”

Somers Award Recipients:

Jen Andrella

Students expressed appreciation of Jen Andrella’s availability and responsiveness, both in office hours and with regard to quick replies to student email communication. Andrella, a Ph.D. Candidate in History, made the course material come alive by leading effective class discussion, facilitated by cogent lectures and PowerPoint slides in recitation sections. 

Jeffrey Davis

Students were very appreciative of the emotional support and encouragement that Jeffrey Davis offered. Davis, A Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy, demonstrated enthusiasm for the course material and an unparalleled willingness to offer help, which resulted in better clarity and understanding of the course materials.

Nicole Huff

Students cited Nicole Huff’s impeccable communication and her ability to enhance understanding of course assignments. A passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable educator, Huff, who is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English, made students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences in class and provided an outstanding classroom environment.   

Arlo Kaczo

Arlo Kaczor, MA student in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures, was described by students as passionate and thoughtful. They said they were enthused by his interactive discussions that both clarify the course content presented in lectures and range beyond it to challenge their understanding of the world. Students were impressed by his knowledge, fairness, and open-mindedness, and they appreciated his extra effort in these difficult times in reaching out to students in need. 

Clay Oppenhuizen

Clay Oppenhuizen, Ph.D. student in the Department of History, employed active pedagogical techniques using multiple modalities to get his students to go beyond the material they had obtained from lectures. His students noted his efforts to get everyone involved in the discussion and to use activities to engage them in learning. His passion for the subject and care for his students clearly affected his students, who praised his enthusiasm, knowledge, approachability, preparedness, and empathy.

Alison Sall

Alison Sall’s work was recognized by her students as reflecting a high degree of empathy, understanding, and helpfulness. Her willingness to work individually with students was cited as a particular strength. One student noted that her work “allowed students to succeed in and out of the classroom.” As another student put it, “Alison was an amazing TA.”

Ethan Veenhuis  

Ethan Veenhuis, Ph.D. student in the Department of History, created a positive classroom environment featuring well-structured class discussions and offering in-depth explanations of course materials. Students appreciated getting to know Veenhuis through his insightful commentary on everyday life, which helped them to find the history of science even more relevant and engaging.   

IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants Recipient:

Marcie Ray

As a teacher who values her students’ mental and physical sustainability, Marcie Ray, Associate Professor of Musicology in the College of Music, constantly encourages empathy and understanding in all steps of the teaching process. As a mentor, she challenges her graduate assistant colleagues to think outside the box in teaching methodologies, including utilizing new and innovative teaching tools that are powerful and effective in the classroom. Not only are students more engaged, but this allows for graduate assistants to sustain individual relationships with students and build an inclusive and intellectually motivating environment.

Service to IAH Award Recipients:

Garth Sabo and Stokes Schwartz Garth Sabo, Assistant Professor in CISAH, and Stokes Schwartz, Academic Specialist in CISAH, are this year’s recipients of the 2022 Service to IAH Award. While both instructors make many contributions to IAH, co-facilitating a learning community on general education and Student Engagement and Success in Fall 2021 made their service contributions to IAH stand out. This helped build community at a time when there was a great need to do so and raised university-wide awareness of general education pedagogy.