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Academic Senate Honors Diverse Array
of Faculty Members for Distinguished Teaching

Paul K. Mueller | May 23, 2011

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With a well-attended reception and a formal ceremony, UC San Diego’s Academic Senate presented the 2011 Distinguished Teaching Awards to faculty members representing a diverse array of disciplines.

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Academic Senate Chair Frank Powell Jr., and Committee on Distinguished Teaching Representative James Nieh co-hosted the event, held on Thursday in the Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club.

“An outstanding faculty is the hallmark of any great university,” said Fox, “and we are fortunate to have some of the world’s top scholars here at UC San Diego.”

Noting that the award recipients represent a diverse range of fields—from history, literature and psychology to nanoengineering, sociology and chemistry—the chancellor praised them for inspiring and engaging students and “taking them on a journey of growth, discovery and enrichment.”

Distinguished Teaching Awards for Senate Members were presented to Patrick H. Patterson, history; Jan B. Talbot, nanoengineering; and Geoffrey M. Voelker, computer science and engineering.

Barbara J. and Paul D. Saltman Distinguished Teaching Awards for Non-Senate Members were presented to Christina A. Johnson, chemistry and biochemistry; Catherine Ploye, literature; and Fredric E. Rose, psychology.

Barbara J. and Paul D. Saltman Excellent Teaching Awards for Graduate Students were presented to Stephanie Chan, sociology; and Julian Parris, psychology.

Faculty Research Lecturer Awards had been previously awarded to Nicholas Spitzer, neurobiology; and Marcel Henaff, literature.

Patrick Patterson, his award notes, is a “master classroom teacher,” and his students praise him “as a mentor, role model, and educator, and laud his ability to challenge, to inspire and to energize.”

Jan Talbot “has been a truly outstanding teacher at UC San Diego for more than 25 years,” and students describe her as a professor who has “changed their lives forever” as a “mentor and a lifelong friend.”

Geoffrey Voelker’s teaching “is of the highest standard, and the experience that he brings, in both its breadth and depth, is remarkable.” Students describe his teaching style as infectiously “fun and exciting.”

Christina Johnson’s “willingness to adapt to the ever-changing student body is exemplified by her unique learning tools,” says her award,” and makes her distinguished teaching abilities invaluable.”

Catherine Ploye “has been recommended by 100 percent of her students for virtually every class she has taught since fall 2005,” and she has been teaching “with exceptional competence and a rare pedagogical talent.”

Fredric Rose, a practicing clinical psychologist, “stands out as a teaching superstar,” and he has “perfected the balance of humor and professionalism in the classroom.”

Stephanie Chan “has not only served her students well, but she has also been an inspiration to other teaching assistants and even to her faculty mentors, who testify that she has helped them to become better teachers themselves.”

Julian Parris, according to students, “is the best TA in the universe,” his teaching is “incredibly well organized, clear and useful,” and he is “immensely skillful at presenting difficult information in an idiot-proof way.”

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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