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Summer 2005

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Awards, Honors, and Professorships


Each year, the University of Washington honors faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and programs for exceptional dedication and innovation. Arts and Sciences recipients of these awards are profiled below. These stories are excerpted from the University Week Awards Supplement.

Distinguished Teaching Award: Philip Reid, Laura Little , Julie Stein
Excellence in Teaching Award: Jennifer Lavy , Mae Henderson
Distinguished Staff Award: Doug Machle

Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award: Lesley Olswang
S. Sterling Munro Public Service Teaching Award: David Olson
Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning Award: Maria Gillman
Clowes Award for the Advancement of Learning Communities: Stan Chernicoff

Other Awards, Honors, and Professorships

Kudos for A&S’s Top Teachers

The UW Distinguished Teaching Award honors faculty who show a mastery of their subject matter, intellectual rigor, lively curiosity, a commitment to research, and a passion for teaching. Three Arts and Sciences faculty are among the recipients for 2005.

Philip Reid, Professor, Chemistry

When Philip Reid began teaching introductory chemistry four years ago, he quickly realized he faced a big challenge.

He had honed his teaching in small, highly focused upper division courses. Now he faced huge classes filled with students with a variety of backgrounds and interests, many of whom “bought into the ‘sage on a stage’ idea,” asking few questions and mostly just sitting there.

Philip Reid, Julie Stein, and Laura Little (from left) are the 2005 UW Distinguished Teaching Award recipients from the College of Arts and Sciences. Photo by Mary Levin.

Reid decided change was needed. He introduced problems that students could solve by working together and applying concepts learned previously in their laboratory sections. He also developed web-based tools to help students keep up. And he began using his own research as a teaching tool in the classroom.
“It takes chemistry out of this stodgy place,” says Reid. “When you bring research into the classroom, you give students the sense that it’s alive, that it is evolving.”

Reid also created handouts that one former student says encouraged the class to take notes but also provided sufficient information that students could take the time to process what was being explained. “The content and quality [of the handouts] rivaled that of the textbook,” says the former student.

An overstatement? Evidently not. “I found the notes so useful,” says the alumna, “that at the end of the course I bound them in a notebook that still sits on my bookshelf.”

Laura Little, Senior Lecturer, Psychology

When Laura Little teaches courses in research methods and statistics—large lecture classes required for undergraduate psychology majors—she is aware that most students enroll in the classes begrudgingly. “It is not like a course in human sexuality where students are all ears the first day of class,” she admits.

But Little is undaunted. “Teaching is teaching,” she says. “I want my classroom to be a place where students can learn, have a dialogue, and be where someone cares about them.”

Little didn’t set out to be a teacher. She was headed toward a career in law
but then returned to college to pursue a doctorate in psychology.

“I had taken plenty of math as an undergraduate, but never statistics,” she says. “I did well and before I knew it, I was being asked to teach undergraduate statistics. Teaching snagged me from that first class. I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”

In addition to teaching, Little has played a key role in the Psychology Department’s curriculum overhaul.

Psychology chair Ana Mari Cauce says Little exemplifies everything the teaching awards stand for, including “an absolutely lovely generosity of spirit that extends to both faculty and students.” Undergraduates describe Little’s sense of intellectual excitement as “infectious.”

“The joy is getting students to ‘get it,’” says Little. “It is so rewarding to have students for whom you can open doors to another world.”

Julie Stein, Professor, Anthropology and Divisional Dean, Infrastructure

Julie Stein says that two of her passions are teaching and “digging in the dirt,” something she has done annually since her sophomore year in college.

Teaching is so important to Stein, a geoarcheaologist, that when she became a divisional dean her acceptance was conditional on being able to continue in the classroom while dealing with her administrative duties.

“I love archaeology and the romance of discovering exciting things while being out in the landscape,” says Stein. “With students I want to impart that excitement.”

Stein fosters a sense of collegiality with her students by involving them in the discovery process. According to a departmental colleague, she truly involves students in her research so they feel ownership and control.

“I believe if you are going to teach not only what we know but how we know it, the best way to accomplish this is by letting students do things,” says Stein. “On a field trip or an excavation it takes all my self-control not to say this is the way to do something. Instead, I let them make the same mistakes we all do. But by working closely with students, they almost always make a contribution and we have a better process and product in the end.”

Teaching Assistants Honored for Teaching Excellence

Excellence in Teaching Awards are given to graduate teaching assistants who demonstrate outstanding skills in the classroom.

Mae Henderson, Teaching Assistant, Women Studies and American Ethnic Studies

When Mae Henderson returned to school a few years back, she had every intention of becoming a paralegal. But several professors and courses—first one on African American literature, later one on Black Women in America—led her in another direction: toward a bachelor’s degree and then a PhD.

Jennifer Lavy (left) and Mae Henderson received the 2005 UW Excellence in Teaching Award. Photo by Nancy Joseph.

“It was a very emotional class for me,” says Henderson, recalling the course on Black Women in America. “I was able to see and feel a connection between myself and the women I was learning about. I saw the personal connect with the political.”

Now a PhD candidate in the UW Department of Women Studies, Henderson enjoys providing others with the same opportunities that brought her to the classroom and watching them “take personal ownership” of what they learn.

Women Studies chair Judy Howard praises Henderson’s “passion for and astonishing talent for teaching.” In addition to the excellence in teaching award, Henderson has received the 2005 Graduate School Medal, a high honor that includes a $10,000 fellowship.

Henderson hopes to continue teaching, but she also wants to create a community center where disadvantaged women can learn what opportunities life has for them.

All the experiences Henderson has been through “mean nothing,” she explains, “if you are not willing to share what you have learned with others.”

Jennifer Lavy, Teaching Assistant, Drama

In high school, Jennifer Lavy showed no interest in becoming a teacher. She wanted to do something in theater, like acting or directing. Yet Lavy was already a teacher. Because of her strong musical background, she’d been asked to teach music to the choir in her school.

In the years since, Lavy has continually been drawn to teaching and quasi-teaching roles. But it is only now, as she works on her doctorate, that she is marrying her passion for theater with her talent for teaching.

At the UW Lavy has taught Introduction to Theater and Play Analysis, two courses heavily populated with non- majors—who give her glowing reviews.

Lavy says she works very hard to find a way to engage students “so they don’t feel they’re just getting preached at.” Keeping lecturing to a minimum, she assigns student presentations and group projects. And she has an extensive website that includes discussion boards. She also offers an optional writing credit in her classes, even though it requires more rigorous and time-intensive interactions with the students.

Lavy is willing to put in the time, she says, because it is a privilege to teach others about something she is so passionate about.

“Theater allows me to connect to a different time and different people, yet at the same time create a community in the here and now,” she explains. “I like the idea that I’m a conduit for something bigger than myself.”

Staff Award Recognizes Classic Skills

Sorry to say, there are people who contact the Classics Department seeking experts in Latin America. Well, after all, the department does have Latinists.
If they do call, they are likely to receive the attention of Doug Machle, assistant to the chair. He responds politely, but this is one of the few questions that is not within his range of duties.

Doug Machle. Photo by Mary Levin.

Machle, recipient of the 2005 UW Distinguished Staff Award, “has served in more capacities than should ever have been expected and with an expertise and graciousness that almost defy belief,” says Classics Department chair James Clauss, citing such tasks as overseeing department budgets, leading graduate student orientation, advising undergraduate majors and minors, and maintaining the department’s infrastructure. Machle also brings his knowledge of five languages (more or less), a tireless work ethic, and a relentlessly helpful attitude.

Machle first came to the UW as a master’s student in Germanics. He still tutors the department’s graduate students in German, since proficiency in German translation is a degree requirement. After graduating and working abroad for several years, he returned to work at the UW in 1988.

One of the things Machle likes most about his job, he says, is that “it’s not linear. There is so much I have to remember, so many little items that need taking care of.” He also finds joy in the collegiality of the faculty. “They’re a wonderful bunch to work with, extremely well read.”

The admiration is mutual. Stephen Hinds, chair of the department from 1997 to 2002, admits to having a “recurrent nightmare in which Doug Machle would take a position elsewhere in the University and put me in the position of having to draft a job description for his replacement.”

Fortunately for the Classics Department, it’s only a bad dream.

Mentoring With Balance

Lesley Olswang. Photo by Mary Levin.

“‘Balance’ is her motto—one that I’ve tried to learn and live,” writes a doctoral candidate describing Lesley Olswang, recipient of this year’s Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. “She not only works to ensure the academic success and intellectual growth of her students, but she also respects and values the importance of personal time and family life. I cannot recall a meeting where she did not ask after my husband’s job or my daughter’s health.”

Olswang, professor of speech and hearing sciences, believes that mentoring has two parts. “One is the intellectual-cognitive part that includes scholarly content, tools, and methodology,” she says. “Then there is the social-emotional part. Are they enjoying what they’re doing? Are their lives in balance? Are they not too stressed?”

Olswang also emphasizes the importance of building collegiality with graduate students, something her students really appreciate.

“There was a spark, a sense of dynamic communication, and a sense of mutual respect and excitement that marked the beginning of a wonderful relationship that has enriched my life on many levels,” says a former student, recalling her first meeting with Olswang. Another praises Olswang’s “careful and patient prodding and persistence that led to my first successful publication.”

While Olswang believes in being responsive and available, she also tries to instill the importance of student independence—something that, in recent months, she’s been gratified to discover her graduate students have learned, since she is currently on medical leave, having undergone two stem-cell transplants for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“She has confidence in me working independently,” says one graduate student. “While struggling with personal health over the past months, she has still managed to efficiently organize and prepare the transfer of certain responsibilities, giving me the utmost professional guidance and personal support in her own time of struggle. How she manages to keep her focus and still have balance in her life is indeed remarkable.”

Learning Politics Through Internships

As David Olson makes his way through the marble halls of the state Capitol, he is frequently interrupted. Lawmakers, lobbyists and aides—all veterans of the Legislative Internship Program that Olson, professor of political science, has run for three decades—approach him to offer greetings.

David Olson. Photo by Mary Levin.

“David is revered by them and seen as their mentor,” says department chair Stephen Majeski. “What an incredible legacy. And what an incredible ‘ambassador’ for the University.” For his efforts, Olson is the 2005 recipient of the S. Sterling Munro Public Service Teaching Award.

With Olson in charge, the legislative program has grown to deploy at least two dozen students to Olympia each winter. Matched with lawmakers and committees, the students perform tasks ranging from answering constituent mail to researching bills.

Olson, who became a professor emeritus in June, also has launched dozens of students into internships with labor unions, mayoral and city council offices, activist groups, and political campaigns.

With his personal connections and keen eye for political change, Olson also is among the UW faculty members most sought-after by the press. During the West Coast waterfront labor negotiations of 2002, he was quoted in national newspapers, interviewed on CNN, and profiled in the Sunday New York Times.

It’s all part of Olson’s willingness to engage the world.

“David Olson has been engaged in service learning since before it had a name,” says Professor Margaret Levi, a Munro winner herself. “I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this award.”

Committed to Lifelong Learning

Maria Gillman, recipient of this year’s Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning Award, believes in the power of service-learning, where two equal parties come together to gain knowledge from each other and immerse themselves in each other’s cultures.

Maria Gillman. Photo by Mary Levin.

Gillman, senior lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese Studies, incorporates a service-learning component into all her projects, especially the Summer Institute for Spanish Teachers, a program for secondary school Spanish teachers offered by UW Educational Outreach. She has taught in the program since 1998.

Teachers enrolled in the institute study in Guatemala, taking language classes in the morning and going on excursions in the afternoon. They have visited a women’s textile cooperative, schools for children displaced by Guatemala’s 30-year civil war, and a school that trains indigenous women to become educators.

“You can speak Spanish or any other language very well but if you have no connection with the culture of the language you are speaking, it is almost useless to speak the language,” says Gillman, who explains that the excursions are a way for institute participants to more closely identify with their teaching counterparts in Guatemala.

“My goal is to plant a seed in the summer institute teachers about the importance of not just learning the language but the culture as well,” Gillman says. “Then I step back and let the teachers take the learning as far as they want to.”

Personalizing the UW Experience

After presenting his first lecture—to a class of 700 students—Stan Chernicoff was approached by a freshman in the class. The student, from a town of 200 people, was feeling as if the UW was too big for him. “Let’s see what we can do to make it smaller,” Chernicoff said.

Twenty-four years later, that guiding principle is one of the reasons Chernicoff has won the James D. Clowes Award for the Advancement of Learning Communities.

Stan Chernicoff. Photo by Mary Levin.

Making the UW experience more personal is behind many of his activities, including the two-year-old Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE), which he founded. CLUE is an evening study center that hosts more than 40,000 student visits each year.

Chernicoff, a senior lecturer in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and assistant dean for academic support in the Office of Undergraduate Education, also participates in the Summer Bridge Program, leading students in a month-long intensive study prior to the beginning of the academic term. And he founded Dawg Daze, a four-day celebration at the start of the school year that provides a sense of UW spirit and tradition.

He’s always open to new learning opportunities. When an undergraduate
wanted to conduct the first Relay for Life—an American Cancer Society fundraiser—at the UW, Chernicoff was the first person she talked to.

“He offered to supervise any students wishing to have their volunteer work become an internship,” the student recalls. “He attended almost every meeting that first year, offering advice and support. He helped transform my volunteer work into part of my education.”


Other Awards and Honors

The School of Art’s Ceramics Program, the Department of Mathematics, and the Washington NASA Space Grant Program received the 2005 Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence. The award recognizes collaboration within and among UW departments, programs, and groups that improves the quality of undergraduate education.

Jane K. Brown, professor of Germanics, has received the distinguished prize of the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for excellence in Germanics scholarship, an award for lifetime research.

J. Michael Brown, professor of earth and space sciences, was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Eric S. Cheney, professor emeritus of earth and space sciences, received the Northwest Mining Association’s T. Lyle Taylor Starter’s Award.

Daniel Chiu, assistant professor of chemistry, was awarded the 2004
Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.

Gary Christian, professor of chemistry, received an honorary doctorate from Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

Patricia Ebrey, professor of history, was named Chiang Ching Kuo Distinguished Fellow for 2005-2006 by the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation
for International Scholarly Exchange.

Mark Ellis, professor of geography, has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2005-2006.

Daniel Gamelin, assistant professor of chemistry, was awarded the 2005 Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

Dennis L. Hartmann, professor and chair of atmospheric sciences, received
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, NASA’s highest award for non-employees of NASA.

Ernest Henley, emeritus professor of physics, has won the Distinguished Service Award from the American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics and was awarded the degree of Doctor rer. nat. honoris causa by Justus-Liebig-University Giessen.

Peter V. Hobbs, professor of atmospheric sciences, has been elected an
honorary member of the American Meteorological Society and has received,
with Art Rangno, UW atmospheric sciences research scientist, the UAE Prize for Excellence in Weather Modification from the World Meteorological Organization.

Eugene Hunn, professor of anthropology, is president of the Society of Ethnobiology for a two-year term.

John Keeler, professor of political science and chair of French and Italian Studies, was recently elected chair of the European Union Studies Association.

Kenichi Matsuoka, research assistant professor of earth and space sciences, received the Nakaya Medal for Early-career Scientists in Glaciology from the City of Kaga and the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice.

David Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences and director of the Quaternary Research Center, was recognized by the American Water Resources Association Washington Chapter for his book, Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers.

Jim Morrow, professor of mathematics, received the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences’ Education Prize for 2005 for “significant contribution to education in the mathematical sciences.”

Stephen C. Porter, professor emeritus of earth and space sciences, received the American Quaternary Association’s Distinguished Career Award and the Geological Society of America’s Kirk Bryan Award for Research Excellence.

Adrian Raftery, professor of statistics and sociology, and director of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, was the most cited mathematician in the world for 1995-2005, according to the Institute for Scientific Information—
a tribute to his influence in the field and to the esteem of his peers.

Peter Rhines, professor of atmospheric sciences and oceanography, was the 2005 Bernard Haurwitz Lecturer of the American Meteorological Society.

Lorna Rhodes, professor of anthropology, received a PASS Award (Prevention for a Safer Society) from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for her book, Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison.

David Shields, professor of English, has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2005-2006.

Nikhil Singh, associate professor of history, received the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians for his recent book, Black is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy.

Eric Smith, professor of anthropology, is president-elect of the Evolutionary Anthropology Society, a new section of the American Anthropological Association.

Robert Stacey, professor of history, has been named the Samuel and
Althea Stroum Chair in Jewish Studies.

Peter D. Ward, professor of biology and earth and space sciences, was recognized for his book, Gorgon: Paleontology, Obsession, and the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth’s History, by Library Journal’s Best Sci-Tech Books 2004.

Hannah Wiley, professor of dance and acting director of the Dance Program, has been awarded a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Professorship.

Barry Witham, professor of drama, won the Outstanding Academic Title award from the American Library Association’s Choice magazine for his book, The Federal Theatre Project.

Younan Xia, professor of chemistry, has received the Baekeland Award from the American Chemical Society’s North Jersey Section.

[Summer 2005 - Table of Contents]