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.
2022 Award Recipients
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Catalina Bartlett, Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, for outstanding teaching of her IAH 207 course on “Bodies, Land and Power” in the Fall of 2021. Dr. Bartlett’s course focused on unpacking “how bodies move through/in land bases and are (re)shaped by power.” The committee was impressed with Dr. 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.
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Shreena N. Gandhi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, for her outstanding teaching of IAH 211C, “Religion and Race in America” in the Spring and Fall of 2021. The awards committee was impressed by the way Dr. 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. Her focus on the long history of racism in the United States and the intersections of religion, race, and white supremacy was especially timely, as her students recognized in their evaluations Her classes adopted a holistic pedagogical approach that shed light on these interacting societal forces by bridging gaps between different fields and integrating the arts and humanities. Student comments noted that in doing so, Dr. Gandhi managed to give her students a broader picture of current U.S. society, one that opened their eyes and minds to become more effective citizens. Her passionate engagement with the subject and her students is commendable.
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Kathryn McEwen, Assistant Professor of German and core faculty in the Center for Gender in Global Context, for her outstanding teaching of IAH 209, “Autopsy: Visual Culture and Body Politics,” and IAH 206, “Snoop: Self, Surveillance, and Technologies of Control” in the Fall and Spring of 2021. The awards committee was impressed by the creative ways Dr. 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.
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Daniel Smith, Assistant Professor of Theater Studies in the Department of Theater, for his outstanding teaching of IAH 241D, “Theater and Society.” The awards committee was impressed by the way that Dr. 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 awards committee was also impressed by Dr. Smith’s ability to connect effectively with students and to provide memorable examples and anecdotes to convey his lessons. Dr. Smith’s 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 awards committee noted how well Dr. Smith connected with his students to make the course supportive, engaging, and eye-opening.
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Dr. Jan Stryz, Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, for her outstanding teaching of her IAH 231B on “Ethics and Empathy in Medicine and the Humanities.” Professor Styrz stood out with both an innovative approach to the course and exceptional responses from students. Students reported that they learned a great deal, because Professor Stryz pushed students 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.” The instructor’s use of the mindfulness experiment was also an exceptional example of how she engages students through innovative pedagogy.
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.
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 made the course material come alive by leading effective class discussion, facilitated by cogent lectures and PowerPoint slides in recitation sections.
Students cited Nicole Huff’s impeccable communication and her ability to enhance understanding of course assignments. A passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable educator, Huff made students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences in class and provided an outstanding classroom environment.
Ethan Veenhuis 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.
Arlo Kaczor is described by students as passionate and thoughtful. They relate being 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 are impressed by his knowledge, fairness, and open-mindedness, and they appreciate his extra effort in these difficult times in reaching out to students in need.
Students were very appreciative of the emotional support and encouragement that Jeffrey Davis offered. Davis demonstrated enthusiasm for the course material, and an unparalleled willingness to offer help, which resulted in better clarity and understanding of the course materials.
The committee noted that Clay Oppenhuizen 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’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, simply put, “an amazing TA.”
2022 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:
As a teacher who values her students’ mental and physical sustainability, Dr. Marcie Ray constantly encourages empathy and understanding in all steps of the teaching process. As a mentor, she challenges her graduate assistant colleagues to think outside of 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.
2022 Service to IAH Award
The awards committee is pleased to announce that Professors Sabo and Schwartz together are the recipients of the 2022 Service to IAH Award for their work in calendar year 2021. 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 stand out in IAH. This learning community helped build community at a time when there was great need to do so and raised university-wide awareness of general education pedagogy.