Excellence in Teaching Award Winners 2015-2016

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Carlin Borsheim-BlackCarlin Borsheim-Black is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature whose research interests focus on secondary education, literacy, and pedagogy.  One peer writes, “The candidate’s enthusiasm about teaching her subject matter is palpable in her classroom, office, and conference presence. Students who have her classes remark about her passion and speak fondly of resources she has provided them.” One student shares that, “The professor’s curiosity, intellect, empathy, and passion for the discipline were contagious. By making class concepts tangible through relating them to personal experiences, students (myself included) felt inspired to allow similar lines of inquiry within the discipline.” A third concisely encapsulates these feelings by writing, “She taught us to not be satisfied with ‘good enough,’ but rather to always aim for great.” 

Joanne Dannenhoffer Dr. Joanne Dannenhoffer is an important member in the College of Science and Technology. As a faculty member in the Department of Biology, Professor Dannenhoffer interacts with students who describe her classes as active, engaging, memorable and unique.  In her teaching philosophy statement, she states, “I believe excellent teaching is active and engaging, relevant to everyday experience, and mindful of what students need to learn for success in future courses and careers.”  A student offered, “My professor, through her creative teaching, fueled my excitement for learning, but even more she inspired me to become a mentor, a teaching assistant, and eventually an instructor for my own class. I often use her teaching methods and inspiration for my own lessons.” According to a colleague, “I cannot imagine a better role model for a student considering a career in research or teaching than Professor Dannenhoffer.”

Alysa Lucas Dr. Alysa Lucas is an Assistant Professor in the College of Communication and Dramatic Arts.  In her teaching philosophy statement, she notes that “I operate under the assumption that learning is challenging and exciting and, thus, my goal is to fire up the classroom, which will motivate students to engage, think, innovate, and learn.”  As one colleague put it, “Her energy invites students to join her in her explorations of each topic, and they do. She leads by example, helping students connect with and develop their own passion for the field.” Dr. Lucas’ infectious attitude gives way to, as one student put it, “a welcoming environment that both inspires creativity and provides a friendly space for us to form genuine relationships.”

Jennifer Schisa Jennifer Schisa is a valued member of the Department of Biology, who has inspired students and colleagues through her teaching and mentorship.  As described by a student, “It was evident from the first time that I met this instructor that she woke up excited about the work she got to do at CMU.” Another student added, “It was difficult not to care about learning the material when you would watch Professor Schisa raise her voice, fists-clenched, eyes wide when describing the impact of the discovery the paper has had on the field and the world ever since. We would leave the class invigorated...” According to a colleague, “Dr. Jennifer Schisa is a strong role model for young scientists; by modeling scientific thinking in the classroom, by providing challenging, real-world problem-solving exercises, and by encouraging deep thinking and spirited debates.” A student noted that “I knew she cared about my learning, she had high expectations for my performance, and made it incredibly easy to remain motivated...”  

Catherine Willermet Dr. Catherine Willermet is a professor of Anthropology in the Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work department. According to a colleague, “She teaches in her area of research expertise, yet she also teaches in areas that she believes the students need…”  In her teaching philosophy, Dr. Willermet explained, “I must design activities that allow students to deconstruct their biases, and engage with the content in an active way.”  She also highlighted, “Students are inspired to work towards change when they feel injustice personally, whether directly affected by it or not…our students can see working towards a change is within their grasp.” One student shared, “I have had the pleasure of taking multiple classes with this instructor...she inspired me to be an active learner and to most importantly want to learn.” Another student noted, “[I] will always remember the professor that believed in me more than I believed n myself.”