Academics Applaud 10 Distinguished Campus Teachers

Photos by Erika Johnson / University Communications

After a festive reception, UC San Diego’s Academic Senate presented the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Awards to 10 campus scholars in a formal ceremony.

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, Paul Pickowicz of the Committee on Senate Awards, and Kit Pogliano, vice chair of the Academic Senate, were featured speakers for the event, held Thursday in the Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club.

“These distinguished faculty exemplify our tradition of excellence in teaching, research and service,” said Khosla. “It is because of our talented faculty, and our strength across disciplines, that UC San Diego has become a world-renowned university in only five decades, preparing our next generation of leaders and tackling some of society’s most complex challenges.”

Distinguished Teaching Awards for Senate members were presented to Hyonny Kim, structural engineering; Sharon Reed, pathology; Nicole Tonkovich, literature; Michael Trigilio, visual arts; and Barbara Walter, international relations and Pacific studies.

Barbara J. and Paul D. Saltman Distinguished Teaching Awards for Non-Senate members were presented to Edmond Chang, Eleanor Roosevelt College; Luz Chung, education studies; and Richard Ord, computer science and engineering.

The Barbara J. and Paul D. Saltman Distinguished Teaching Awards for Graduate Students were presented to Keith McCleary, literature; and Kevin Webb, computer science and engineering.

Faculty Research Lecturer Awards had been previously presented to Michael Parrish, history; and William Young, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Those attending the ceremony heard details of the awardees’ teaching skills in the words of their colleagues:

Hyonny Kim’s dedication to teaching is unparalleled. He understands the problems that structural engineering students face, clearly explains complicated topics, and develops classes with attention to detail so that students get the most out of them. He knows how to adjust his teaching style when the material becomes more challenging, and in doing so, makes complicated topics easy to comprehend. As one student elaborated, “Students in his courses begin the quarter thinking the material will be too difficult to understand, but because he is able to explain the topics clearly and thoroughly, they soon gain an understanding of them. After taking one of his classes, I was amazed by the quantity and complexity of the material that I now had a solid understanding of. His dedication as an educator has greatly influenced my academic career.”

Sharon Reed has been a stellar teacher at UC San Diego for 25 years. Her dedication, skill, willingness to take on difficult tasks like designing new courses in the core curriculum for medical students, and her ability to inspire undergraduate and graduate students to further study in her laboratory are strong evidence of her worthiness for a Distinguished Teaching Award. Her national and international influence on the continuing education of physicians through her contributions to primary pathology textbooks underscores the value of her teaching. She is a gifted teacher and a trusted mentor.

Nicole Tonkovich is an outstanding scholar and writer and a remarkable teacher who is admired by both undergraduate and graduate students. As a teacher, she is known for her exceptionally detailed and organized literature syllabi and demanding classes and seminars, which are models that her graduate students emulate later in their professional careers. Students call Professor Tonkovich an “extraordinary teacher and mentor” and especially appreciate that she takes her students seriously. She is demanding of her students and challenges them, but she is always ready to help as well. Her exemplary teaching and mentoring are nothing short of extraordinary.

Michael Trigilio is a rare teacher of truly exceptional quality and has consistently received high evaluations at every level. He has demonstrated exceptional educational leadership, service, and professional activity and has substantially enriched the research and pedagogical culture of the department of visual arts. Students highly recommend Professor Trigilio and comment that “he cares about student learning and tries to find ways to make it engaging and fun.” They appreciate that he is “very passionate about the course material” and respond to his efforts to help students understand the connections.

Barbara Walter demonstrates energy and commitment to excellence in teaching. She is recognized for her “tremendous empathy for her students,” meeting and connecting with them outside of class and at a weekly lunch with her first-year students. Students feel “free to discuss anything with her” because she is open to listening and has a sincere concern for their well-being. Her pedagogy has “profoundly impacted and influenced” her students’ lives. One former student summarized Professor Walter’s deep impact: “I have learned valuable new perspectives in international politics and have refined my career interests based on those interests. But perhaps most importantly, she has taught me to think critically, a skill that will aid me not just in my career but in all aspects of life.”

Edmond Chang is an extraordinary instructor who was overwhelmingly voted “outstanding faculty member” by the 2010 and 2011 graduating classes of Eleanor Roosevelt College. His lecture style for Making of the Modern World is remarkable. He exhibits a calm and peaceful presence, often becoming quieter when making a major point, cleverly guiding the students forward. Cognizant of the limitations of attention spans, he breaks up his lectures by “checking in” to assess whether students are grasping the material, or by using humor to provide levity, and then seamlessly shifts back to the content with minds refreshed and ready to focus again. This apparent effortlessness belies the hours of preparation that Dr. Chang dedicates to every one of his lectures. He is an incredibly talented and versatile instructor and has had a tremendous impact on the students who enter his classroom.

Luz Chung is an extraordinarily dedicated instructor. Throughout her time at UC San Diego, she has shown enthusiasm, professionalism, and teaching excellence across the board. As a lecturer, she is truly exceptional. Students comment that she is “engaging, well informed, and organized” and responsive to their learning needs. An alumnus who took several courses from Dr. Chung stated that she “is arguably one of the few professors at UC San Diego who genuinely cares for her students” and shows concern for her students’ well-being. Dr. Chung inspires her students with her passion for teaching and education studies.

Richard Ord is a truly exceptional teacher, mentor, adviser, and supporter. He teaches students about what computer science is as well as how to be a computer scientist and transform the world. He emphasizes concepts along with how to apply them to real-world problems, and his pedagogy extends beyond the classroom experience: how to learn by sitting in class as well as how to learn to stand in front of one and teach, how to follow as well as how to lead, and how to be inspired as well as how to inspire others. Professor Ord encourages his students to think broadly, not just short-term about what internship to get for the summer, but how to be passionate about a lifelong career. Simply put, he cares—and cares deeply—about computer science, teaching, and those he teaches. As a result he has had a profound and fundamental impact, not only on thousands of students who have taken his classes, but on everyone in his department as well.

Keith McCleary represents the embodiment of the criteria for the Excellent Teaching Award. His enthusiasm and passion for teaching have contributed to the continuing success of the Culture, Art, and Technology program, and he has inspired countless students who have had the pleasure of working with him. He has consistently demonstrated an especially dedicated level of commitment to undergraduate instruction and has excelled in his efforts. Mr. McCleary’s students revere him as a mentor and a role model. One student wrote that “Keith was an excellent TA. He promoted a classroom environment not only conducive to learning but also one that facilitated critical thinking. I am sure the skills that I developed in this class will play a crucial role in any future academic success I achieve.”

Kevin Webb is one of the most dedicated teachers, at any level, in the department of computer science and engineering. Students adore him, fellow instructors depend upon him, and he gives a great deal of his time and energy to students in the department. Perhaps most notable, however, is that he is actively engaged in not only improving others through his teaching but also improving his own (already excellent) teaching. Mr. Webb is committed to student learning and understanding and displays a willingness to go above and beyond in terms of creative and innovative teaching methods. His evaluations rate him as truly outstanding. Students laud him as an “amazing” instructor and praise his high standards and desire to push students to achieve.

Distinguished Teaching Awards for senate members are $1,500 each, the Saltman Awards for non-senate members are $1,000 each, and the Saltman Excellent Teaching Awards for graduate students are $500 each.

The Saltman Awards were established in the 1999-2000 academic year in honor of the former biology professor and chair of the Distinguished Teaching Committee. Funds for the awards and the reception are provided by the Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and donors to the Barbara and Paul Saltman Endowment Fund.

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