“Teaching well is the work of a lifetime,” wrote teaching award winner Kateri DuBay, an assistant professor of chemistry.

DuBay joins an economist who tells stories, an anthropologist who took his students to the wilds of Alderman Library for fieldwork and an astronomer comparing stars’ gravity waves to ripples of water in the kitchen sink – University of Virginia professors from across disciplines who bring their enthusiasm and creativity, along with expertise, to students on Grounds every day.

Every year, a new group of innovative and engaging faculty members are chosen by their peers for a series of teaching awards, sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Included in the nomination materials with testimonials from colleagues and students is each faculty member’s unique teaching statement.

Below are 13 tips, perspectives and creative methods showing the dedication of these teachers to make their courses a life-changing experience for UVA students, often including hands-on involvement with real-world issues or situations, enabling students to see they’re having an impact.

Along with a banquet held Thursday to recognize this year’s outstanding group of teachers, the awards come with a range of funding for the professors to use in designing or reworking a course of their choosing and with a commitment to share their methods and ideas with their peers in several different ways.

In addition, graduate teaching assistants also receive awards based on advisers’ and especially their students’ input.

Ira Bashkow
Arts & Sciences
Sidney Milkis
Arts & Sciences
Lee Coppock
Arts & Sciences
Kateri DuBay
Arts & Sciences
Phil Arras
Arts & Sciences
Eli Carter
Arts & Sciences
Robert E. Davis
Arts & Sciences
Ali Güler
Arts & Sciences
Jonathan Kropko
Arts & Sciences
Craig Lefanowicz
McIntire School of Commerce
Dan Player
Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
Barbara Wilson
School of Architecture
Emma McKim Mitchell
School of Nursing

NEH Goldsmith Family Distinguished Teaching Professorship:

Ira Bashkow, Professor of Anthropology

Arts & Sciences

Anthropology professor Ira Bashkow was awarded the NEH Goldsmith Family Distinguished Teaching Professorship, a three-year appointment, during which he will explore ways of making the humanities more compelling to students by using integrative, real-world tasks and scenarios in lessons, courses and whole curricula.

Bashkow will continue working on exciting, hands-on projects for students in the “History of Anthropology” course, required for majors, and his ethnographic fieldwork course, a popular offering that draws about 60 students each semester. In fall 2016, Bashkow found a new area for their final research project: students working in teams of two focused on the planned renovation of Alderman Library, interviewing students and other patrons, exploring its spaces and uses, and documenting what insights ethnographic fieldwork in the library could reveal that would help in planning it.

In his words:

Although I began teaching the course using the Alderman renovation as a role-playing scenario, in effect encouraging the students to play at being working ethnographic researchers, that scenario has taken on a life of its own, becoming authentic, genuinely. Something truly real has happened, and it has been an amazing experience for me as well as the students.

My pedagogical aim for the course is to give students a powerful learning experience that stimulates their curiosity about human sociality and culture, as revealed through ethnography; gives them a grounded perspective for comparing different modes of scientific and humanistic understanding; prepares them for study abroad and future independent research and cultural experiences; and introduces them in a uniquely engaging way to my field of cultural anthropology – all through an intense engagement with collecting, analyzing and interpreting holistic, qualitative real-world data, toward solving problems that are real and close to their lives.

 

Cavaliers’ Distinguished Teaching Professorship:

Sidney Milkis, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics

Arts & Sciences

On the UVA faculty since 1999, Milkis is among the many professors who have long felt research and teaching are intertwined, and he is committed to faculty and students collaborating “in research and learning about the issues that dog our days and haunt our dreams at night.”

In his words:

With attention to primary sources, leading secondary works and a great deal of ongoing research, every subject I teach explores whether the American Constitution – rooted in natural rights, privacy and limited government – provides adequately for a competent and active citizenry. This question has taken on greater urgency with the development of an executive-centered administrative state over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. As recent developments have poignantly made clear, it remains uncertain whether the “modern” presidency, even with the tools of instant mass communications, can function as a truly democratic institution with meaningful links to the public. My courses on the United States and its relationship to the world, which always have been heavily subscribed, are in greater demand than ever before.

Perhaps my commitment to joining research and pedagogy has resonated with my students because my scholarly interests are broad: all of my work attempts to place American political life in a large context; to probe the deep philosophical and historical roots of contemporary developments that are at the core of the most fundamental issues that shape politics and government in the United States.

 

Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award:

Lee Coppock, Professor of Economics

Arts & Sciences

Coppock, who came to UVA in 2003, wrote about the two required courses for economics majors, “Principles of Microeconomics” and “Principles of Macroeconomics”: “It is our job to turn the lights on for students so they, too, can see what economists see. It is our chance to help students fall in love with our discipline.” He also believes in the importance of stories, he wrote in his teaching statement.

In his words:

Economists believe that economic behavior is all around us, and so we should use this to motivate the difficult material from class. When I begin a difficult section that previously caused problems, I open with a lengthy story. The story might be about an entrepreneur, a historical event, a personal experience, or even a reference to a literary work. The story then provides a foundation for discussion and puts meat on the theoretical bones of my lectures. Even though the story takes class time, I have found that it does much of the hard work for me: it carries the theory along, delivers material, and connects the students in ways they understand.

 

Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Award:

Kateri DuBay, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Arts & Sciences

Respect, trust, organization, and a bidirectional flow of information: I have come to believe that these are the four essential ingredients for keeping students and teachers mutually engaged in any learning venture. I work to actively and visibly trust and respect my students, keep the course organized and transparent, and solicit information and feedback at every turn.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Phil Arras, Associate Professor of Astronomy

Arts & Sciences

As we discuss the sheer coolness of water-worlds, Tatooine planets, the deafening sound of supersonic weather, and planets being destroyed by their stars, the students also learn about how to think about the world from a scientific point of view. … I am especially interested in the students first learning a piece of physics as it applies to their daily life, and then to discuss how it can be used to understand objects, such as stars and galaxies, far beyond our daily experience. For instance, the same physics used to understand the ripples in water you see in your kitchen sink and in puddles is used to understand tsunami waves in the Earth’s oceans or “internal gravity waves” in stars.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Eli Carter, Assistant Professor of Portuguese

Arts & Sciences

In my classes, a dialogic structure that situates both teacher and student as intellectual interlocutors replaces the more traditional top-down, teacher/student hierarchy. While the degree to which this occurs depends in large part on the class being taught, I have found that, independent of level, students become more actively engaged in their assignments and class discussion, more supportive of diversity in all its forms, and better prepared to transfer their newly acquired knowledge to their future lives and professional endeavors.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Robert E. Davis, Professor of Environmental Sciences

Arts & Sciences

Last semester I taught a new class on human biometeorology – a class that not only was new for me, but probably has not been taught previously in the United States. As part of the class, each student (all fourth-years) had to do an entire research project, from conception of the idea and hypothesis development to oral and written presentation of the results. Only one or two of the students (out of 17) had done something like this before. Many of the students chose to work with an entirely new dataset I developed for the class on daily admissions to the UVA Medical Center coupled with weather data. They were excited to learn that this was not a prescribed exercise, but that this dataset had never previously been analyzed by anyone. Not only were the projects consistently excellent and exceeded the students’ own perceptions of what they were capable of doing, but I’m also working with two of the students on publishing the results this semester.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Ali Güler, Assistant Professor of Biology

Arts & Sciences

The scientific method is meticulous, and groundbreaking discoveries are made on the back of basic research that is performed over decades. More than ever, it is critical for students to be well-informed about the scientific method and able to distinguish between science and science fiction. This requires the ability to sift through an overwhelming amount of information now available in the digital age with unbiased acuity. I design courses so that students learn the language and logic of science, which provides them with the foundation needed to understand and evaluate publicized biomedical research. I hope to also capture their imagination and inspire them to apply the scientific method to any career they enter.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Jonathan Kropko, Assistant Professor of Politics

Arts & Sciences

An instructor needs to understand that the [typical] student in a research methods course is not there because he or she wants to be there, but because the course is either required or the topic is deemed necessary to publish in a particular literature. … It is also crucial to understand that “methods” cause more anxiety than nearly any other topic.

I ask the students to critically evaluate the methods we study, and if they can imagine a novel approach I encourage them to explore the idea. I have one student, for example, who studies the efficacy of counter-terrorism by using ecological models that treat government and insurgent forces as predator and prey populations. It’s a brand-new method to study well-known data in international relations.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Craig Lefanowicz, Associate Professor of Accounting

McIntire School of Commerce

I approach each class I teach with enthusiasm, meticulous preparation and an attempt to immerse myself thoroughly not only in the subject material, but in the current events that provide the best context for the material. I hold my students to high standards, but I hope they realize I also hold myself to high standards and that I dedicate myself to helping them achieve those standards. Effective instruction, for me, means respecting my students, pushing them to excel and striving to have them not only grasp, but apply the core concepts of the course with the tools I provide.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Dan Player, Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

My philosophy can be stated in one sentence: I teach students, not courses. I know I have met my main objective when my students begin to see the world in a different way. In an end-of-course evaluation, a student once described her experience in my class by commenting, “[This course] made me want to learn more about why the world is the way it is.” I consider myself a successful teacher anytime one of my students can echo that sentiment.

 

All-University Teaching Awards:

Barbara Wilson, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning

School of Architecture

Professors guide students as they cleave themselves from parent-driven oversight and into a fully autonomous state of being. With those responsibilities in mind, in my classes students develop skills to become the leaders we need for an uncertain future: they work through complex issues, learn to code-switch across disciplines and difference, and apply their new skills in the service of the public good.

The two graduate core courses I teach, “Methods of Community Engagement and Research” and “Planning Theory and Practice,” ask students to engage directly with the ethical dilemmas inherent in community-based scholarship and in planning practice. Our students are challenged to face their own privilege and come to terms with the mixed legacies of their profession, but after Aug. 12, many former students thanked me for preparing them for reflective practice in tense environments.

 

Excellence in Education Abroad Award:

Emma McKim Mitchell, Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Global Opportunities

School of Nursing

Important components of my guiding teaching philosophy include the importance of transformative global health immersion experiences and promoting a model of international nursing education rooted in respectful long-term cultural engagement and collaboration.

For too long, global health has focused on “help” for those in developing countries by those in developed countries. Respectful cultural engagement emphasizes an asset-based approach, where we guide students to see locally relevant challenges and importantly, locally relevant and community-defined solutions. This approach could not be more important today, not only in a global context, but also as locally critical.

 

Graduate Teaching Awards

School of Medicine Resident Teaching Award: Dr. Justin N. Karlin
Class of 1985 Award: Michael Reeks, mathematics 
Frank Finger Award: Justin McBrien, history 
Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award in the Social Sciences: Anup Gampa, psychology  
Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award in the Humanities: Swati Chawla, history   
Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award in STEM: Jessica Niblo, chemistry   

All-University Graduate Teaching Awards:

Candace Miller, sociology
Spyridon Simotas, French
Jessica Taggart, psychology
Veronica Shalotenko, mathematics
Alexander Knutson, Batten School
Mariano Echeverria, mathematics
Ross Mittiga, politics
Benjamin Goffin, civil and environmental engineering
Dan Savelle, economics
Elizabeth Stone, art

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications