March 30, 2011

CLAS Announces 2011 Collegiate Teaching Award Recipients
CLAS Dean Linda Maxson has announced the recipients of this year’s CLAS Collegiate Teaching Awards. The recipients were chosen by the College’s Teaching Awards Committee from nominations by students and colleagues.

“These awards are the highest recognition the College gives to faculty for their teaching,” said Dean Maxson. “Their teaching role includes the ways in which they mentor students, innovate in our course offerings, and involve students in research, as well as their hard work and achievements in classroom instruction. I am very pleased to be able to honor the commitment of our Collegiate Teaching Award winners to the College’s academic mission.” 

The Helen Kechriotis Nelson Collegiate Teaching Award, provided each year through the generosity of an alumna, honors career-long commitment to and excellence in teaching, curriculum development, and student mentoring. This year’s recipient is Tom Lewis, Spanish & Portuguese.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis, professor of Spanish language, literature, history, and culture, strives “to make a difference in students’ ways of being in the world by providing a learning context in which they can choose to take a positive step forward in life.” Students and colleagues extol his patience, brilliance, and ability to create a classroom environment conducive to both learning and intellectual camaraderie, citing, most recently, his enthusiastic adoption of TILE classroom technology. In his thirty-three years at Iowa, he has transformed the Spanish curriculum to be more diversified, immersive, and interdisciplinary; pioneered large lecture courses taught entirely in Spanish; established the new Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; and twice served as DEO. Most recently, he co-created the MFA program in Spanish Creative Writing. In the words of his students, he is an “inspiration” whose courses awaken “empathy and awareness.”


The recipients of this year's Collegiate Teaching Award, which recognizes excellence in classroom teaching, curriculum development, and student mentoring, are as follows: Kate Cowles (Statistics & Actuarial Science), Maria Duarte (Spanish & Portuguese), Jane Gilotti (Geoscience), Matthew Hill (Anthropology), and Colleen Mitchell (Mathematics).

Kate CowlesKate Cowles, associate professor in Statistics and Actuarial Science, teaches courses in Bayesian statistics and statistical computing. Students admire her commitment to building community among them and to providing “guidance and opportunities to advance [their] learning,” a commitment evident in her launch of a new interdisciplinary graduate program, in her mentoring of minority students in the Iowa Summer Institute in Biostatistics program, and in her recent procurement of a Student Success Grant, which provides funds for career mentoring and student travel to the annual meeting of the Iowa chapter of the American Statistical Association. Students laud her “infectious enthusiasm,” her ability to make statistics “interesting and tangible” and “accessible to students of all backgrounds,” and the high level of professor-student interaction in her classes.


Maria DuarteMaria Duarte, associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, studies nineteenth- and twentieth-century Portuguese literature and teaches Portuguese language courses as well as classes in Luso-Brazilian literature and culture. During her twenty-nine-year teaching career at Iowa, she has served the Department both as DEO and as Director of Undergraduate Studies. As the Department’s liaison with Admissions, she also meets regularly with prospective students and their families. Students commend her patience, her charisma, and her sense of humor, which “creates a positive experience in the language classroom” and “encourages students to relax and remain confident.” Colleagues extol her tact and grace in dealing with student concerns and her “constant and strong advocacy for undergraduates.”


Jane GilottiJane Gilotti, associate professor of Geoscience, teaches courses in structural geology and field methods. She prizes active learning and maintains a research program that establishes connections with organizations around the world to provide fieldwork opportunities for student majors. As the head of her department’s Undergraduate Committee, she revised the Geoscience core curriculum to be more easily completed in four years and to include more learning opportunities for students, which, in addition to her redesign of the field geology training program, has greatly increased the number of undergraduate majors. Students routinely rate her an excellent teacher who sets high standards and “inspire[s] [them] to learn more.” She recently completed a semester-long internship at ExxonMobil Exploration Co. and has worked in government, museums, and industry.


Matthew HillMatthew Hill, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, teaches courses in archaeology, ecology, and the environment. His students, many of whom have joined him on summer fieldwork projects around the country, praise his skills as both a teacher and mentor, citing his ability to help students develop “a sense of ownership and engagement” in their academic work and to inspire them to “go beyond the curriculum” and do their own research. His own research focuses on landscape-scale processes of human-environment interactions expressed in long-term behavioral changes. He is active in the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates fellows program and is also a Collaborating Faculty Member in Iowa State University’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program.


Colleen MitchellColleen Mitchell, assistant professor of Mathematics, strives to help students in her engineering math and calculus courses appreciate the utility and dynamism of mathematics. To accommodate the many students who share her research interest in mathematical biology, she recently designed and taught a new course in the subject as well as organized a series of MathBio mentoring lunches. She is a regular speaker at the VIGRE Mathematical Biology Seminar and participates in many of her department’s outreach activities, including Sonya Kovalesky Day, which encourages high school girls in math and science. Students deem her a superb teacher and a nurturing mentor who “typifies what it means to be a teacher-scholar,” praising her dedication to her field and her “ability to inspire others to become passionate” about math.

The College takes great pride in recognizing the faculty whose excellence in teaching and mentoring is recognized by the Collegiate Teaching Award. Thanks to all who contributed nominations to this year’s selection process.

STORY SOURCE: CLAS Office of External Relations, 240 Schaeffer Hall, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1409