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Eight UCSD Faculty Members
and Three Graduate Students
to be Honored June 6 for
Teaching Excellence, Inspiration

June 4, 2008

By Jan Jennings

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
– author, educator William Ward (1921-1994)

Eight professors and three graduate students at the University of California, San Diego will be honored for excellence in teaching June 6 in the Atkinson Pavilion of the Cecil and Ida Green Faculty Club. A reception will be held at 3:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 4 p.m.

The Distinguished Teaching Awards are sponsored by the San Diego Division of the Academic Senate at UC San Diego.

Speakers who will address the importance of teaching excellence, innovation, creativity, accessibility and communication – as well as inspiration for students to learn with enthusiasm –include UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox with welcoming remarks; Jim Posakony, chair of the Academic Senate, and Jack Wolf, vice chair of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Distinguished Teaching.

In addition to a citation from the Academic Senate, the professors of teaching excellence will receive an award of $1,500 and a citation/proclamation from Sen. Barbara Boxer.

The Distinguished Teaching Awards for faculty members of the Academic Senate include professors Donald Rutherford, philosophy; Steven Schick, music; Haim Weizman, chemistry and biochemistry; Nicholas Christenfeld, psychology, and Thaddeus Kousser, political science.

The Barbara J. and Paul D. Saltman Distinguished Teaching Award professors, non-senate members, are Heather Flowe, psychology; Rahul Jandial, neurosurgery, and Peter Chen, bioengineering.

The Barbara J. and Paul D. Saltman Excellent Teaching Award/Graduate Student honorees are Beth Peterson, anthropology; Jaime Thomas, economics, and Robert Radford, chemistry and biochemistry.

Each recipient brings an individual teaching style and passion for his/her subject as described by students and colleagues and quoted in their award certificates.

Donald Rutherford – A rare breed who excels on all three fronts – teaching, research, and service to the university and the profession. “He knows the philosophical issues and texts backwards and forwards,” says one student. “His intellectual enthusiasm is infectious.”

Steven Schick – One of the most acclaimed artists and academics in the world of percussion. “If this were Japan,” says a colleague, “Steve Schick might be designated a Living National Treasure.” Another describes him as “the epitome of the Scholar Artist.”

Haim Weizman – A talented, innovative and bright scientist and an extremely competent, knowledgeable, and approachable teacher, Weizman is praised for his “passion for teaching,” concern that “students learn with enthusiasm” and for making “that extra effort.”

Nicholas Christenfeld – A charismatic psychology professor with artful speaking ability, Christenfeld “can hold hundreds of students in rapt attention” as a provocative storyteller – no props – offering “understandable, witty, insightful, and completely engaging presentations.”

Thaddeus Kousser – Very “hands on” in political science teaching. One student points out his “uncanny ability” to listen to ideas, break them down into their simplest components and “provide keen insights on how to improve research.” Colleagues praise his energy, creativity.

Heather Flowe – “Lives to teach” is how one student describes her, and as one who “teaches with freshness and vitality and makes even the most mundane material seem as if it’s the most important thing in the universe.” A stellar teacher with an interactive teaching style.

Rahul Jandial – Dynamic, personable, captivating, inspiring. Says one student, “He shows you how great medicine and science can really be.” “He provides perspective,” says another, and he “personifies the teaching mission of any and every university.”

Peter Chen – Recognized as one of the most knowledgeable instructors in the design aspects of bioengineering, Chen’s colleagues say that without his excellence, “we would be unable to deliver on our mission to provide an outstanding education to all of our students.”

Beth Peterson – A gifted anthropology instructor who cares deeply for her students, Peterson is described as the “paragon of what every university looks for in a graduate student to serve it undergraduate population.” A student adds “without her, we would be lost.”

Jaime Thomas – Kind, careful, very clear and a great discussion leader, the economics graduate teaching assistant is described by faculty as “just a great TA. Students love learning from her.” Students praise her as organized, smart, knowledgeable, excellent, and helpful.

Robert Radford – Passion, commitment and leadership – all attributes necessary to provide an excellent teaching environment, and according to chemistry/biochemistry faculty, each is descriptive of teaching assistant Radford. Adds one student, “Robert Radford Rocks.”

The Distinguished Teaching Awards were established in 1992 to recognize a select number of faculty Academic Senate members who have made extraordinary contributions to UC San Diego as teachers. The late Paul Saltman, professor of biology, was one of the first award recipients.

In 1999, the Barbara and Paul Saltman Endowment Fund was established to recognize non-Senate faculty members and graduate students for their teaching excellence.

Funds for the awards are provided by the Chancellor, the Senior Vice Chancellor-Academic Affairs, the Vice Chancellor-External Relations, and donors to the Barbara and Paul Saltman Endowment Fund.


Media Contact: Jan Jennings, 858-822-1684

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