The Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities

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 Fintz Award is possible thanks to an endowment provided by Professor Ken Waltzer, former director of CISAH, to honor his father. The selection of candidates, final recommendations made by the CISAH Advisory Committee, and awards ceremony take place during the spring semester of each year. IAH faculty may receive the Fintz Awards only once every five years.

2021 Award Recipients

Richard Bellon

The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Richard Bellon, Associate Professor in the Department of History,, for his outstanding teaching of  IAH 206, “Biology, Technology, and the Human Condition” in the Fall of 2020.  The awards committee was impressed by the way that Dr. Bellon managed to create an inclusive, supportive, and challenging intellectual environment despite the challenges of working during a pandemic. His focus on the history of medicine and eugenics was especially timely, and the course bridged gaps between different fields by integrating science, technology, and humanities. It was impressive how Dr. Bellon and his TAs (Tori Fritz, Ramón Miranda-Beltran, and Anthony Padovano) managed to create excellent online learning despite the challenges of teaching in a pandemic. The awards committee also noted the students’ significant engagement with Dr. Bellon and the materials presented and student comments on Dr. Bellon’s many pedagogical strengths.

Tamar Boyadjian

The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Tamar Boyadjian, Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature in the English Department, MSU, for her outstanding teaching of  IAH 207, “Robin Hood: From Medieval Outlaw to Sexy Bandit.” The awards committee was impressed by the way that Dr. Boyadjian used a number of innovative pedagogical techniques and assignments, including group activities for the midterm project that engaged students to rethink gender and sexuality.  Indeed, the key to the success of her courses is the degree to which she engaged students and helped them to rethink how they see and understand the world.  The awards committee also noted how well Dr. Boyadjian connected with her students to make her courses supportive, interactive, and engaging places of learning.

Jon Frey

The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Jon M. Frey, Associate Professor of Art History in the MSU Department of Art, Art History and Design, for his IAH 221A course, “Classical Mythology Then and Now.” The committee wished to recognize the exceptional care he demonstrated throughout the pivot to online teaching in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020. Focusing on the contemporary resonance of classical mythology, “Classical Mythology Then and Now” encourages significant cultural understanding of the ancient world. Students particularly emphasized how much they learned about gender and sexuality. Professor Frey employed multiple modalities for engaging learners in discussion, and many of his students expressed a keen sense of feeling supported as learners and as human beings.

Peter Hoffman

The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Peter Hoffman, Instructor for the English Language Center, for his outstanding teaching in the IAH 207 course “Poetry for Daily Life: The Power and Beauty of Words”—an asynchronous online course taught in the Fall of 2020.  Students’ comments made clear that he succeeded in making poetry relevant to their daily lives.  Not only did they find the course an enjoyable respite from other classes, but a number also said that the course helped them better themselves and even changed their lives.  Through teaching them how to relate to poetry mindfully, he led them to take a mindful approach to their own lives, and helped them cope with the stresses of the pandemic.  He was respectful and responsive to students, and was able to create a sense of connection and community even in an asynchronous, fully online environment.  He did an exemplary job of using the humanities as a means of cultivating an appreciation of diverse perspectives and a deeper understanding of the world.

The Somers Award for Excellence in Teaching

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 strong ability to promote meaningful student-teacher interaction, as well as in creating a classroom environment that encourages active learning and critical thinking.

2021 Winners

Christine Roberts

The committee was very impressed with Christine Roberts’ performance, particularly as these achievements occurred during the pandemic. Students emphasize in their comments how encouraging and uplifting Roberts was during a year that, for many students, has been a tough and challenging experience. Students point out how appreciative they are of Roberts’ encouraging and open attitude, and support of the overall learning process. In particular, the committee was impressed with how often students underline Roberts’ emphasis on inclusiveness and dedication to student success.

Shannon Cousins

The committee was impressed not only with the superb student responses to Shannon Cousins’ teaching, but also with Cousins’ dedication to students and their learning. Students describe Cousins as an approachable person and caring teacher who communicated very clearly the goals and content of all class sessions, and kept recitations focused and engaging. Students point out that Cousins impressed them by conveying the larger ideas behind their class and emphasize how helpful Cousins’ explanations of the course content were.

Joe Karisny

Joe Karisny is described by students as passionate and enthusiastic while demonstrating patience in helping students to understand course material, always with a smile, even at 9AM. Karisny developed stimulating questions that pushed students to think about the material in deeper and more critical ways, and showed genuine care for his students throughout difficult semesters and was always accessible for obtaining help when students needed it. Karisny also demonstrated clear respect for his students as burgeoning scholars, always making them feel comfortable offering their own ideas on issues.

Michael Stokes

Michael Stokes demonstrates meticulous and diligent preparation for section discussions and guest lectures, while finding creative approaches to get students engaged with difficult concepts and materials. Stokes is described by his students as well-prepared, passionate, and caring in his teaching and always approachable. Stokes was able to get students excited about the course material while helping them to understand the various nuances in ideas presented. For example, Michael gave a stellar guest lecture on a Star Trek episode related to the course topic of Robin Hood, and worked with the students dialectically to develop a fresh new line of thinking about the topic, giving them credit for their ideas and thus modeling collaborative modes of knowledge production.

Dawson McCall

Dawson McCall demonstrates exceptional enthusiasm and love for teaching. The committee is impressed with how Dawson McCall created an atmosphere of respect and tolerance where all students could thrive while designing inclusive and relatable lessons. Students found Dawson McCall to be an engaging speaker willing to answer all questions, simple or complex.  McCall was also praised by students for being available and adept at helping each and every student succeed in the class.

2021 IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants

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. This year there are two awardees:

Jason Price

  • IAH’s Faculty Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that Professor Jason Price has been selected as one of the awardees this year for an honorary IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants. The Awards Committee selected Professor Price in appreciation for all the hard work mentoring GAs, for positively impacting their lives, always privileging their individual educational needs while also fostering their independent growth and autonomy.

Lina Qu

IAH’s Faculty Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that Professor Lina Qu has been selected as one of the awardees this year for the IAH Award for Excellence in the Mentorship of Graduate Assistants. Graduate assistant colleagues enthusiastically highlight her professional attitude as well as her empathy and understanding for student and GA concerns. Her graduate assistants underline that Professor Qu valued the input of her mentees in constructive ways that contributed to their professional growth. In addition, Professor Qu not only treated her TAs as equal collaborators, but also was highly responsive to problems and worries during a difficult transition to online teaching.

2021 Service to IAH Award 

This year’s Service to IAH Award, to acknowledge those who contribute to the work of IAH curriculum, assessment, and other programmatic efforts, goes collectively to the IAH Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which collaborated to develop learning outcomes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, performing work that was above and beyond their departmental service obligations.  The task force collaborated in ways that demonstrated insight into student experiences, pedagogical innovation, curriculum, and assessment, and demonstrated exemplary thoughtfulness and collaboration throughout.  Members of the task force included: 

Safoi Babana-Hampton (RCS); Jonathan Choti  (LILACS); Sheila Contreras (ENG); Philip Effiong (THR/ENG); Salah Hassan  (ENG); Gordon Henry (ENG); Marohang Limbu (WRAC); Morgan Shipley (REL); Jessica Stokes (ENG); Jan Stryz (WRAC); Denise Troutman (WRAC/LILACS); Margot Valles (REL); Kyle Whyte (PHL); Claire Wilcher (THR).  Facilitators: Ellen Moll (IAH); Nicola Imbracsio (IAH)