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Northwestern University

2018 Teaching Awards

The College honors 13 faculty members and graduate students for their excellence in the classroom

By Rebecca Lindell

Continuing an annual tradition that celebrates high-quality teaching, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences has recognized 13 faculty members and graduate students for their excellence as undergraduate teachers.

The scholars were celebrated June 5 at the College’s annual Teaching Awards luncheon, during which Dean Adrian Randolph thanked them for their support and mentorship of students.  

 "It’s clear that students value the individualized attention they receive from teachers,” Randolph said. “It’s wonderful that you have taken the time in your lives to grant that to them. Your patience, compassion and empathy shine through.”

E. Leroy Hall Award

Celeste Watkins-Hayes, a professor of sociology and African American studies, is the most senior of the tenure-line faculty to be recognized this year with a Distinguished Teaching Award. She received the E. LeRoy Hall Award in recognition of that honor.

“Students rave about [Watkins-Hayes’s] courses, not because they are easy, but because of how much they learn,” Randolph said. “She teaches them to think critically and to see issues from new perspectives, deepening their understanding of how inequalities of race, class, gender, and systems of power shape their society and their own lives.

“Many state that her classes are ‘eye-opening,’” Randolph added.

Distinguished Teaching Awards

In addition to Watkins-Hayes, the College honored three other tenure-line faculty with Distinguished Teaching Awards: Laura Lackner, an assistant professor of molecular biosciences, Anna Parkinson, an associate professor of German, and Brannon Ingram, an assistant professor of religious studies.

Lackner was noted as a scientific storyteller who “helps her students grow regardless of the area in which they are specializing,” while Parkinson was described as “a cornerstone of the German Department’s undergraduate program.” Ingram was noted for his passionate engagement with the topic of Islam and ability to design projects that capture students’ interest.  

Alumni Teaching Awards

Teaching-track faculty also were honored. Aaron Peterson, an assistant professor of instruction in mathematics, and Rachel Webster, an associate professor of instruction and director of the English major in writing, received Arts and Sciences Alumni Teaching Awards. 

Peterson earned plaudits for his ability to make calculus accessible as well as his “affable attitude, high-spirited demeanor and penchant for exhilarating mathematical analogies.” Webster was described as an “approachable, generous and sympathetic” teacher whose work in the classroom “clearly has the power to change lives.”

Community Building Awards

The College also honored two faculty members with Weinberg College Community Building awards: Mary Pattillo, the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, and Geraldo Cadava, associate professor of history.

Pattillo was recognized in particular for her mentorship of first-generation, low-income and Black and Latino students. “It’s hard to think of a better example of a community builder at Northwestern than Mary Pattillo,” Randolph said. “Her work is inspired by a genuine desire to help her students succeed.”   

Cadava, meanwhile, was celebrated for his work with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, the One Book One Northwestern program and the University’s summer Bridge Program. “In all he does as a scholar, teacher, and mentor, Gerry reaches out beyond his immediate circle to help others work towards true community, united by friendship and common purpose, fully engaged in the world,” Randolph said.

Other awards

The Council on Language Instruction Award for Excellence in Foreign Language Teaching was given to Erin Leddon, associate director of English Language Programs and a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics. Leddon was described as an exemplar of “excellence in language teaching in every way” who “uses her training as a linguist to bring new understanding to her students … with warmth and professionalism.”

The College also recognized four graduate students who have excelled as teaching assistants:

The Weinberg College Teaching Awards are presented with the support of the Alumnae of Northwestern University and the E. Leroy Hall fund.

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