Wednesday, August 21

Select faculty honored with Distinguished Teacher Awards

Academic senate posts list of 13 winners in various fields of study

The UCLA faculty recently recognized some of its own by awarding
them with Distinguished Teacher Awards.

The Academic Senate, a body of faculty members that make
decisions concerning academic regulations, is in charge of
distributing distinguished teacher awards each year.

The 13 winners of the annual awards were publicly announced this
past spring, and a list of the winners was displayed on campus this
past week. The winners, ranging from instructors of biology to
musicology, will be officially recognized at a UCLA Alumni
Association awards ceremony in the spring.

The senate’s Committee on Teaching awards include a
financial reward. Professors receive $6,000 and lecturers receive

The decision on which applicants to honor is often

“Everyone who applies looks like a wonderful
teacher,” said Jane Weinreb, chairwoman of the teaching

Many students of this year’s winners said they agreed with
the committee’s ultimate decision.

Anders Christiansen, a third-year student at the UCLA School of
Law, said his professor, Kirk Stark, was definitely deserving of
the award.

“He’s one of the best professors that I’ve had
in either college or law school,” Christiansen said. He added
that Stark, a tax-law professor, nurtures such an interest in the
subject that students leaving the class want to practice tax

Sadaf Sehatic, a fourth-year graduate student in chemistry and
biochemistry, supported the committee’s decision to recognize
Marjorie Bates, a chemistry and biochemistry lecturer.

“She is my favorite teacher of all time,” Sehatic, a
former student, said.

For the past three years, Sehatic has also worked as a teaching
assistant for Bates. Though Sehatic no longer needs to be a TA, she
continues to do so because she enjoys working for Bates.

“She’s very pro-TA as well as pro-student,”
Sehatic said. Bates is not only very welcoming, but also does all
the busy work herself so the TAs can concentrate on teaching,
Sehatic said.

The honored teachers expressed great enthusiasm about receiving
the awards.

“I was not expecting a reward besides student
feedback,” said Robin Garrell, a chemistry and biochemistry
associate professor. She said receiving the award “is like
icing on the cake.”

Stark said he was equally honored to be nominated by the law
school as he was to win the actual award.

“To be nominated within the law school is quite an honor,
but winning the award is nice too!” he said.

Overall, the teachers appreciated that UCLA recognizes the
importance of educating students.

“It shows us that undergraduate teaching is regarded as
important,” Bates said.

It is precisely for this reason that the awards began.

“In the early 1960s, there was a push to get more teachers
honored for their great teaching,” said Margaret Avila, the
senior administration analyst for the senate, about the
program’s beginning.

Since then, the awards have evolved to include lecturers and
teaching assistants as well as professors. Lecturers are non-senate
faculty, whereas professors are senate faculty members.

Each department is allowed to nominate one person for each
category, but not all do. There are usually 12 to 15 nominations in
each of the three categories, Avila said.

The nomination process involves a lot of work, so some
departments do not have the staff or resources to complete the
procedure, Avila explained.

For departments wishing to nominate individuals, applications
are due beginning in January.

Once the nominations are in, the members of the Committee on
Teaching individually rank each applicant, then meet several times
to decide the winners in each category.

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