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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.
based primarily on nominations from current and past students, and
winners are selected by the Senate’s Committee on Student and Faculty
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.
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
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Honored with the Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising and
Mentoring Award are (from left) Robin Andreasen, Phillip Mink, Lisa
Jaremka and Patricia Walsh.
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