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University awards presented to faculty for outstanding teaching, advising

​This year's recipients of the University's Excellence in Teaching Award are (from left) Brian Ackerman, Bahira Sherif Trask, Paul Laux and Charles Bartlett.

Eight members of the University of Delaware faculty, including five from the College of Arts and Sciences, have been recognized for outstanding work in teaching and in undergraduate advising and mentoring.

The awards were announced at the May 1 meeting of the Faculty Senate.

They are based primarily on nominations from current and past students, and winners are selected by the Senate’s Committee on Student and Faculty Honors.

Excellence in Teaching awardees each receive $5,000, have their portraits hung in Morris Library for five years and have bricks inscribed with their names installed in Mentors’ Circle between Hullihen Hall and the Morris Library. 

This year’s Excellence in Teaching Awards were presented to:

Brian Ackerman, professor of psychological and brain sciences;

• Charles R. Bartlett, associate professor of entomology and wildlife ecology;

• Paul A. Laux, professor of finance and JPMorgan Chase Fellow in the Institute for Financial Services Analytics; and

• Bahira Sherif Trask, professor of human development and family studies.

Those honored with the University’s Excellence in Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring Award receive $5,000 and also are honored with inscribed bricks in Mentors’ Circle. 

This year’s honorees, all in the College of Arts and Sciences, are:

• Robin Andreasen, associate professor of linguistics and cognitive science and of philosophy;

• Lisa Jaremka, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences;

• Phillip Mink, assistant professor of English, pre-law adviser and director of the Legal Professional Preparatory Program; and

• Patricia M. Walsh, associate professor of biological sciences

Award recipients shared their thoughts about teaching and advising with UDaily. Excerpts from their responses are printed below.

Excellence in Teaching

Brian Ackerman: “I try to make my classes a little edgy, and a little wry, in an effort to challenge the sleep deprivation of all involved. Frequently, I fail. My ultimate goal is to move the students from tacit acceptance to systematic doubt of psychological and neurological explanations of behavior. Many department faculty share that goal. I hope that collectively we have some success.”

Charles R. Bartlett: I am very flattered to be a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award. I enjoy teaching, I like to see students succeed and I hope to encourage student success.  Because students learn in different ways (from lectures, from reading, from practical application), I try to provide several resources for course material. At the same time, many students respond to simple enthusiasm for a subject, and enthusiasm may be one of the best gifts we can provide to students. I am very grateful to be recognized by the students and the college."

Paul A. Laux: “I am grateful to my students, my colleagues and my University for this award. It makes me think of privilege, obligation and challenge. My students and I are all privileged to learn together in a modern university, where it is counted as our job to develop our individual talents. This brings a life-long obligation to justify our privilege by developing possibilities for others. The challenge is then: How to do it? For me personally, that challenge is to combine scholarly research and teaching -- the development and the spread of knowledge naturally go together. I'll keep trying to meet my challenge. I ask my students to keep trying to meet theirs.”

Bahira Sherif Trask: “Over my teaching career, I have taught a wide variety of undergraduate courses in Human Development and Family Studies. All of my courses center around contemporary social issues facing individuals and families and how we can best find solutions to the grand challenges of our times. I am a cultural anthropologist and I, thus, concentrate on exposing my students to issues of diversity and the relationship between economics, politics, social and historical factors and the lives of individuals. As we delve deeper into the 21st century, it is imperative that students understand the complexity of the world we live in and how they can take responsibility and make a difference.”

​Honored with the Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising and Mentoring Award are (from left) Robin Andreasen, Phillip Mink, Lisa Jaremka and Patricia Walsh.

Excellence in Academic Undergraduate Advising

Robin Andreasen: "’No talent lies latent’ is a core element of the educational philosophy of my son's school. This phrase has always resonated with me, and I use it to guide my own teaching and mentoring. As an adviser and mentor, I try to understand each student as an individual. I listen and ask questions to learn about their interests, goals and challenges. My ultimate aim is to guide them towards a path that they have selected and earned. My role is simply to help them see the options available to them and to assist them in learning the steps that they need to take in order to pursue those options.”

Lisa Jaremka: “My own career trajectory was fundamentally shaped by a mentor I had as an undergraduate student. She inspired me to start down the path that led me to become who I am today. My goal as a mentor is to instill that same inspiration in my students. I aim to help them navigate the career choices that face them during this critical time of their development. I enjoy seeing students have moments of insight as they start to determine what interests them and what career path they may want to take. This is particularly fulfilling when students decide to pursue a research career; I am able to fully utilize my mentoring skills to guide them through the very process that I once went through myself.”

Phillip Mink: “My goal as a pre-law adviser is to help students do as well as they possibly can in the admissions process. That often means helping them create an effective personal statement. Students have to define themselves in one single-spaced page with a compelling story that will appeal to a law school admissions committee. I work with my students on finding a topic, which can range from a crippling injury during an ice hockey game to an ever-shifting hair color. The challenge then is to tell the story as any good fiction writer would, with events unfolding in an arc that defines a problem the student encountered and how he or she overcame it. The process usually takes several drafts, and I will comment on all of them, because a good statement can make the difference between acceptance and denial, and it can determine the level of funding.”

Patricia M. Walsh: “Advisement is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of my job. My goal as an adviser is to establish a relationship with my advisees so they are comfortable sharing not just their successes with me but also their challenges and setbacks. I try to encourage them to explore all the resources and opportunities UD has to offer and to seriously consider their own individual interests and strengths. It is a privilege to work with our talented students and support their pursuit of their academic and professional goals.”

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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Eight UD faculty members, including five in the College of Arts and Sciences, were presented 2017 awards for excellence in teaching and in undergraduate advising and mentoring.

​Eight UD faculty members, including five in CAS, were honored for excellence in teaching and in advising and mentoring.

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Honoring excellence
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