Four receive first Excellence

in Teaching Award

The Center for Teaching and Curriculum, barely a year old itself, has announced its first annual Excellence in Teaching Awards. "Early on we decided one of our goals as a new office in the College was to recognize and reward excellent teaching," said program director and English Professor Walter Reed.

"I was pleased by both the number of nominations and the quality of applicants we received," he added. Indeed, four awards were given this year-instead of the three originally planned-one each in the natural and social sciences, two in the humanities. This year's winners were Robert Agnew, professor of sociology; Arri Eisen, senior lecturer in biology; Anna Leo, assistant professor of dance, health and physical education; and Mark Risjord, assistant professor of philosophy. Reed said the recipients will be honored, along with Emory Williams award winners, at a banquet in the early fall. Award winners will receive a $2,000 prize.

"Of all the good things that could happen to me at Emory, winning a teaching award is just the best," said Leo, who teaches dance. She was praised by dance program director Sally Radel, as one "who is ceaselessly in search of the most excellent educational experience for her students. She is sensitive to learners in all their different forms." Radel also noted Leo's unselfish regard for her students. "She's tireless. Her passionate commitment to teaching shows in everything she does."

Sociology Chair Richard Rubinson cited Agnew's longtime efforts to foster effective teaching as one good reason for giving him the Excellence in Teaching Award. "Over ten years ago, he developed a graduate seminar called 'Teaching Sociology,'"-a precursor to the University's Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity program (TATTO) that served as a model for other department programs. Agnew developed and still maintains a library of books dedicated to sociology pedagogy, among other teaching-focused initiatives. "Our graduate students do really well [in securing jobs] because others recognize that they really know how to teach and are committed to teaching," said Rubinson. "I'm also pleased that teaching is receiving more recognition at Emory," said Agnew-in typical modest fashion, according to Rubinson. "It will do a lot to promote good teaching."

Arri Eisen started his professional career as a researcher, but soon changed direction. "I love teaching," he said, "and I put my whole heart into it-so it was great to be recognized." His enthusiasm for his profession wasn't lost on his students or colleagues. "[He] has the type of teaching style [that] imbues the student with an almost inebriating excitement to answer the questions left unanswered by others," one student wrote. "Arri has relit a spark inside me, which, without his enthusiasm, might've died forever."

Teacher-student interaction is what Risjord likes about his profession. "I enjoy the intellectual exchange of teaching-provoking students into challenging me and challenging them in return," he said. Department Chair David Carr reports students crowd Risjord's office on a regular basis. "He's willing to spend lots of time and give them lots of attention inside and outside class," said Carr. "He's one of a distinct group of teachers in our department who have won teaching awards. We're very proud of our colleagues."

"Teaching isn't the sort of thing that one expects to be recognized for by one's peers," said Risjord. "It's quite rewarding."

-Stacey Jones

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