Five UC Berkeley faculty members named recipients of Distinguished Teaching Award

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After a rigorous selection process, the campus has named five UC Berkeley faculty members as recipients of the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award.

The 2013 winners are Rauri Bowie from the department of integrative biology, Darcy Grigsby from the history of art department, Timothy Hampton from the departments of French and comparative literature, Terry Johnson from the department of engineering and Ula Taylor from the department of African American studies.

Both students and faculty members may nominate professors to individual departments, which can then submit one name to the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching. The committee reviews submitted names and makes the final decision midway through the spring semester.

While the award celebrates individual achievement, it also highlights the strength of a department.

“Rauri Bowie’s colleagues in the department of integrative biology are immensely proud of his accomplishments in teaching, which, by the way, are matched by his research accomplishments,” said John Huelsenbeck, chair of the integrative biology department. “As a whole, integrative biology faculty take their teaching seriously.”

Faculty members are selected based on numerous criteria, including lecturing skills and the ability to inspire students to higher levels of learning, said Glynda Hull, chair of the Committee on Teaching.

“(I) treat teaching like I would any other engineering problem,” said Johnson, an awardee. “I look for things that work and incorporate them and look for things that don’t work and delete them.”

As part of the selection process, members of the committee sat in on professors’ classes unannounced to assess teaching abilities firsthand.

“It was a little nerve-racking, but I love teaching — teaching is my life,” said art history professor Grigsby, an awardee.

Though this year’s award winners hail from different disciplines, they all share a passion for the subject matter they teach and a drive to engage students.

“I try to make the students feel that I am not a TV screen … not another Netflix video,” Grigsby said. “Students can be passive if you don’t engage them.”

The committee also takes into account student reviews of the professors, Hull said.

“What I like best about Tim Hampton is that he takes the extra mile … (class is) not like a lecture section but a really big discussion section,” said freshman Ashleigh Luschei, one of Hampton’s students in Comparative Literature 10.

Many of the award winners echoed this sentiment, saying that they aim to engage students by creating an interactive learning experience, among other things.

“I make a really conscious effort to learn the names of all my students within the first few lectures … (in order to) break down the perceived barrier between professor and student,” said Bowie, an awardee.

Members from the Committee on Teaching announced the award in each of the professors’ classes, Hull said. Students are invited to an awards ceremony that will be held April 24 at 5 p.m. in the Zellerbach Playhouse.

Contact Christine Tyler at [email protected].