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Congratulations to the ten winners of this year's awards, pictured with Acting Executive Dean Richard Falk and President Robert L. Barchi in Winants Hall.


 2013 Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education

The 2013 SAS Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education were held on May 7, honoring ten faculty members for accomplishments both within and beyond the classroom. Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi opened the ceremony with remarks that emphasized how important a strong arts and sciences program is to the university. Acting Executive Dean Richard S. Falk then presented the awards which cover the spectrum of SAS fields from Anthropology to Chemistry and Chemical Biology to French to Mathematics.

Scroll down or click on a name to read the citation
Professor: Paul Schalow
Professor: Mary Speer
Professor: Darrin York
Associate Professor: Ben. Sifuentes-Jáuregui
Assistant Professor: Kathleen Lopez
Non-tenure Track Faculty: Karen Kalteissen
Non-tenure Track Faculty: Rick H. Lee
Non-tenure Track Faculty: Melissa Lieberman
Teaching Assistant: Lisa Danish
Teaching Assistant: Sarah Goldfarb



Paul Schalow, Asian Languages and Cultures

Paul Schalow, Asian Languages and LiteraturesProfessor Paul Schalow has developed and teaches a number of our most interesting, innovative, and popular courses, including Atomic Bomb Literature, Samurai Tradition in Japanese Literature and Film, and the highly popular Global East Asia Signature Course. Professor Schalow’s teaching in these and other courses is a vital component in the curricula of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures in Japanese and East Asian languages, literatures, and cultures. His courses spark student interest, highlight important cultural issues, and focus on questions of relevance to the students' own lives and futures. Other courses Professor Schalow has developed and taught include Japanese Women Writers and The Tale of Genji as World Literature; and he co-created and has co-taught From Text to Image in Japanese Art. He has also taught East Asian Civilizations: Traditional Era for our East Asian Studies Program, in which he brings a fresh creative perspective that guides his students in engaging closely and vividly with the East Asian past. In his courses he introduces students to literary works in their social and historical contexts, paying particular attention to ethical questions and social issues. His approach is a thoughtful and balanced one that motivates students to develop their own penetrating and compassionate perspective on the issues. It is a testimony to Professor Schalow’s skill as a teacher and mentor that in just a few years the Global East Asia Signature Course has become our department's most popular offering, with an enrollment of nearly 420 students this Spring 2013. He consistently earns top scores on his teaching effectiveness and the quality of his courses and students frequently and effusively praise Professor Schalow’s teaching. With his engaging, sensitive, and thoughtful classroom style, Paul Schalow has contributed widely and significantly to the education of Rutgers undergraduates in interesting, innovative, well designed courses that deeply and thoughtfully enhance the educational experience of our students. We are delighted that his skill and effort in teaching is recognized and celebrated with the 2013 SAS Award for Distinguished Contributors to Undergraduate Education.

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Mary Speer, French

Mary Speer, FrenchProfessor Mary Speer has long set the gold standard for students and colleagues alike in the French Department. She is, as one student puts it, a “master at her craft” whose “tough love” made him "try harder." Professor Speer’s students unanimously salute her rigor and consistency regarding class organization and rules, her extreme clarity and efficiency in delivering information, and above all her high expectations. The fact is, Professor Speer is known to require more work than most teachers do. “I’ve spent more time on homework for this class than any other,” confesses a senior, albeit with more gratitude than frustration, because Professor Speer’s courses meticulous evaluation and abundance of feedback make one’s hard work worthwhile."  "It is a time consuming and intellectually demanding course,” reflects another senior, “but overall I am proud to have taken it. I feel the instructor had an essential role in easing these difficulties and even elevating the course to one I could look forward to attending.” Professor Speer’s uncanny ability to raise her students’ skill level is only matched by her talent at raising appreciation for the material she teaches. “Her unique passion and dedication to studying and researching is contagious,” says one student. “Professor Speer is a treasure,” says another, “not just any professor could make the medieval era feel so modern!” It is clear that our undergraduate students immediately recognize in Mary Speer a brilliant scholar – an epithet that appears over and over in their comments – and realize how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to discover Medieval literature under the wing of a world-renowned specialist of Arthurian fiction. One of our Seniors contributing a testimonial for Mary Speer's nomination for the present award concluded by stating “Quite simply, no one deserves it more.” Her colleagues concur enthusiastically, could not agree more!

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Darrin York, Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Darrin York, Chemistry and Chemical BiologyWhen Professor Darrin York joined the Rutgers faculty in 2010, he outlined a multifaceted program to revolutionize the way we teach General Chemistry, and his impact has been inspirational. In the classroom, Professor York’s lectures are received with tremendous enthusiasm that is rare for classrooms of more than 350 students. He has created a new Chemistry Lecture Demonstration facility that brings live illustrations of chemical principles into the classroom. He has developed and implemented a novel, modern General Chemistry e-Learning System that promises to transform the way students learn to solve General Chemistry problems, giving them customized instruction and feedback to overcome individual learning obstacles. While these general chemistry efforts alone might appear remarkable, Professor York also has been active in promoting undergraduate research and upper-level undergraduate instruction, including the development of two new undergraduate classes: “Chemical Dynamics” and “Chemistry and the Marine Environment.” In summary, Darrin York's intensity and commitment to undergraduate education at all levels, coupled with his innovations in pedagogical methods, leadership, vision, and dedication to service, mark him as an ideal recipient for the SAS Award.

 Associate Professor
Ben. Sifuentes-Jáuregui, American Studies

Ben. Sifuentes-Jauregui, American StudiesProfessor Ben. Sifuentes-Jáuregui has established a well-deserved reputation as a brilliant teacher and an inspirational and challenging mentor in the Department of American Studies and the Comparative Literature Program. His students consistently praise him for the ease with which he makes difficult theoretical concepts intelligible and meaningful to them, for his devotion to developing their unique intellectual talents and interests, and for the ways in which he empowers them to feel confidence in expressing their ideas and opinions. They are grateful for his invaluable assistance in developing skills like critical analysis and written expression, and his openness to exploring new ideas. He empowers both undergraduate and graduate students to feel confident about what they have achieved and inspires them to meet additional intellectual challenges. A former student wrote: “From day one in his courses, Professor Sifuentes-Jáuregui goes out of his way to make his students comfortable to express themselves and their interpretations of texts, while simultaneously holding us accountable for what we say and the issues we raise during class.” And a colleague summarized his remarkable achievement:  “Professor Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui is the complete package: an active and innovative scholar, an exemplary academic citizen, and a passionate, visionary, and brilliant teacher.” As such, he is fully deserving of the 2013 SAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

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  Assistant Professor
Kathleen Lopez, Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies

Kathy Lopez, Latino and Hispanic Caribbean StudiesProfessor Kathleen Lopez is one of the most admired and cherished teachers in the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies. She is known for her incredibly gentle demeanor and approach, her elegance in presentation, and her deep care for students.  Her students simply love her.  Her student evaluations are high, and the comments are even better.  Professor Lopez is a historian who also feels comfortable teaching materials from other disciplines and fields.  She welcomes opportunities to establish linkages between her classes and visits by scholars on campus, and prepares students for these visits very well. Kathy Lopez is also incredibly humble and in that humility is the secret of her success: she believes that she can do better all the time, without realizing that, most of the time, she does better than most of us.  

 Non-tenure Track Faculty
Karen Kalteissen, English (Writing Program)

Karen KalteissenKaren Kalteissen began her career teaching high school students from the Navaho reservation in Arizona.  When she came to Rutgers nearly ten years ago, she brought along the same spirit of social commitment that attracted her to such challenging work. First hired as a part-time lecturer, Ms. Kalteissen quickly rose through the ranks to become a highly respected instructor with a reputation for inspiring some of the most resistant undergraduates. Eventually she was chosen to become the assistant director in charge of the Douglass tutoring center, and there she set a new standard before returned to full time teaching. It must be said that Ms. Kalteissen is not just an excellent teacher: her evaluations on the SIRS reports are the highest of any instructor in Writing Program history. Besides teaching courses in developmental writing and English as a Second Language, she has played an important role in the EOF Summer Program and in the mentoring of former inmates from Mountainview Correctional Facility. As one student wrote about Karen Kalteissen’s most recent developmental writing class, “Karen’s best quality is getting you to believe in yourself.”

 Non-tenure Track Faculty
Rick H. Lee, English and American Studies

Rick H. LeeRick H. Lee’s clarity of vision and his ability to navigate institutional thickets make him a formidable leader and generous teacher. His courses, cross-listed in both the English and American Studies departments, introduce students to the complexities of sexuality, race, and representation in the literature produced by and about minority subjects. His academic interdisciplinarity crosses into his pedagogical acumen as he guides his students through their own intellectual development.
At root is Dr. Lee’s intellectual and social compassion. Time and again, we have been impressed by his tireless commitment to teaching and institution building, particularly his commitment to developing undergraduate programming that reflects the experiences of our diverse student body. Dr. Lee has strived to provide enriching and transformative experiences for undergraduate students at Rutgers, both in the classroom and beyond. Drawing upon his expansive local knowledge of Rutgers, he has played a key role in instituting the annual Asian American Studies undergraduate symposium and the Asian American Studies learning community — examples of co-curricular programming that help fulfill our mission as a public university. His boundless talent and organizational strength are matched by his intellectual energy. Rick Lee is a first-rate colleague, whose gifts — both personal and professional — are extraordinarily impressive. As such, he is fully deserving of the 2013 SAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

 Non-tenure Track Faculty
Melissa Lieberman, Mathematics

Melissa Lieberman, MathematicsAs a full time instructor in the Mathematics Department for the last three years, Melissa Lieberman has made outstanding contributions as both a teacher and faculty colleague. She has built a reputation for very effectively teaching a wide range of math courses -- including several intended for math-phobic students, such as Topics in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts -- accumulating an outstanding average teaching effectiveness rating of 4.67 out of 5, in spite of the students' low prior interest in the subject, and deep anxieties about studying it. She has genuinely convinced many of her students that they could indeed succeed in a math course, though most had imagined otherwise; as one student put it, among many expressing the same thought, “I am horrible at math, but in this class, I was able to shine.” Ms. Lieberman has also played an important role in the Mathematics Department's teaching and ongoing development of courses for liberal arts majors, by being one of a small number of instructors entrusted with the role of teaching and polishing certain courses before they are assigned to a wider circle of instructors. During weekly chat room discussions among the instructors in Math 103 and 106, she is a prolific contributor, and very generously produces and shares both course materials and teaching advice with her colleagues. She has also taught algebra courses for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences's EOF program every summer since 2006. The Mathematics Department approved the addition of Math 106 to the SAS EOF course offerings this summer, on the strict condition that she be the instructor! To conclude with a student comment summarizing Melissa Lieberman's profound impact on students who do not view themselves as strong in mathematics, “This instructor is by far the best instructor that I've ever had at Rutgers.”

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 Teaching Assistant
Lisa Danish, Anthropology

Lisa Danish, AnthropologyLisa Danish has served as a Teaching Assistant for seven semesters in two different large-format courses.  She has also taught her own summer course as a part-time lecturer and directed the Rutgers Primatology Field School in Kenya.  Throughout, she has performed these duties with uncommon dedication and imagination.  In “Introduction to Human Evolution,” for example, Ms. Danish’s explanations shine almost incandescently clear.  Having been a TA in the class six times, Ms. Danish made her own Powerpoint presentations for each recitation.  In the summer of 2012, Ms. Danish mounted her own primatology course.  She designed a trip to Philadelphia Zoo and integrated that experience into the content and pedagogy of the course.  At the zoo, students observed primates.  They also observed the primates observing humans and, at what one might call a “meta-level,” observed the zoo observing the primates.  In a single, brilliantly designed, exercise, Lisa Danish covered everything from animal behavior to notions of the wild to practices of captive breeding and conservation.  Needless to say, students loved the zoo visit and the course as a whole.  “She encouraged me to look at things from every angle possible before drawing conclusions,” one student commented, “and she taught us things in a way that made them fun and interesting.”  In her zoo field trip, Ms. Danish was, in fact, applying pedagogies she had developed and applied at the Kenya field school.  Ms. Danish served as the field director of this Study Abroad program in this summer of 2011.  Finally, Lisa Danish goes above and beyond the call of duty in mentoring students, having served in the grad-student-run Anthropology Advising Collective.  

 Teaching Assistant
Sarah Goldfarb, English

Sarah Goldfarb, EnglishIn any field, effective teachers find a way to help their students experience the thrill of saying something new. This would certainly apply to Sarah Goldfarb, English Teaching Assistant, who has shown students at many levels—from classes in development writing to courses for advanced majors—that real thinking always involves taking risks. As one student wrote about Ms. Goldfarb’s “Introduction to the Novel,” “she was incredibly helpful in pushing us to take our ideas beyond the obvious. . . . It was a truly eye-opening experience to be a part of this section.” Another student from English 101 had this to say about Ms. Goldfarb’s teaching: “I was always good at picking out an author’s main point, but I never actually questioned why they were making that point. As a thinker, I’ve learned not only to identify the ‘what’ but also to analyze the ‘why.’ The best part of it all was that Sarah Goldfarb always had a smile on her face.” Another student summed up his appreciation with a single word--“Superb.”    

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