Jefferson Scholars Foundation Honors Six Outstanding UVA Faculty Members

May 9, 2023
Thomas Jefferson statue framed by greenery

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation provided cash awards to six UVA professors chosen for their exceptional commitment to teaching. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications.)

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation has recognized six University of Virginia faculty members for their exceptional commitment to teaching and made an exceptional commitment of its own: a total of $35,000 in cash awards for the winners.

The foundation's recent announcement honors instructors in four different academic units.

Widely known for attracting talented students to UVA through its longstanding merit scholarship competitions, the foundation launched a new effort to support the University in 2010. Through a series of faculty awards, the foundation recognizes teachers at UVA who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the profession.

“We have always understood that our efforts to attract outstanding students to UVA would be virtually impossible if the University did not have an outstanding faculty,” Ben Skipper, director of the foundation’s graduate and undergraduate programs, said. “So, we administer these awards every year as a way of expressing gratitude to the teachers who make UVA such an attractive place to learn.”

Award winners for 2023 are:

• Sarah Turner, University Professor of economics, education, and public policy, was selected as this year’s recipient of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Faculty Prize. Awarded biennially, the prize celebrates a professor’s commitment to three areas: leadership, scholarship and citizenship.

Portrait of Sarah Turner

Sarah Turner, economics, education and public policy professor, won the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Faculty Prize. (Contributed photo)

In her more-than-25-year tenure at UVA, Turner has taught thousands of students in multiple schools and departments and has chaired the Department of Economics. Jefferson Scholar alumni nominated her for the prize.

This year, the foundation also invited department chairs from across the University to nominate full-time faculty members for its Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Ultimately, a review committee comprising UVA faculty members selected three recipients based on their “willingness to go the extra mile in fulfilling their vocation, without regard for their own advancement.” The 2023 winners are:

Portraits of UVA professors Dr. Megan Bray, Karen James and Lauren Simkins
UVA professors Dr. Megan Bray, Karen James and Lauren Simkins won the foundation’s awards for Excellence in Teaching. (Contributed photos)
  • Dr. Megan Bray, School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
  • Karen James, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of French.
  • Lauren Simkins, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Environmental Sciences.

Two faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Science received the Hartfield Excellence in Teaching Award. This year, the foundation invited department chairs in the Engineering School to nominate members of the faculty who show that communicating knowledge and inspiring students are as important as scholarship. Also selected by a review committee comprising UVA faculty members, the 2023 winners are:

Portraits of UVA professors David Green and Rachel Letteri
UVA professors David Green and Rachel Letteri received the foundation’s Hartfield Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • David Green, Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
  • Rachel Letteri, Department of Chemical Engineering.

“In a world where there is mounting pressure on faculty to publish new research, it is exceedingly difficult to maintain high-quality student/teacher relationships. And yet the six recipients of this year’s awards prove that both are possible,” Skipper said.

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To date, the foundation has awarded approximately $600,000 to 76 UVA faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education and Human Development, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the McIntire School of Commerce, the School of Architecture, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Medicine.

Media Contact

Jimmy Wright

President Jefferson Scholars Foundation