Four faculty members were honored as Chapman Summer Fellows as part of the 2023 University Teaching Awards. Patrick Harrison, Anastacia Kohl, Søren Palmer and Milada Vachudova were recognized for their distinguished teaching of undergraduate students.
The Chapman Summer Fellows, also known as the Chapman Family Teaching Awards, was created in 1993 with a gift from Max Carrol Chapman Jr. ’66 on behalf of the Chapman family. Chapman Summer Fellows receive a stipend of $30,000 to be used over a five-year period.
The 2023 Chapman Summer Fellows are:
Patrick Harrison, teaching associate professor, department of psychology and neuroscience
Harrison is a teaching associate professor and director of instructional development in the department of psychology and neuroscience who specializes in skills-based statistics and methodological courses as well as well as content-based theoretical courses. Harrison is technically and pedagogically a strong and inclusive teacher and clearly passionate and caring.
In an interview with The Well, Harrison spoke about how he uses memes as instructional tools to engage with his students:
“My students know I love to use memes as instructional tools. Too often, I think we take ourselves too seriously. Having a good laugh at the beginning of class is a great way to break the ice and get started on a positive note. Students in “Statistical Principles of Psychological Research,” for example, create course and topic-related memes that we present and discuss at the beginning of each class meeting. Research suggests that creating memes is not just a chance to have some creative fun but also facilitates deeper encoding of course material. I am blown away by the students’ creativity and some students even comment that the memes have helped them get over their fear of statistics.”
Anastacia Kohl, teaching associate professor, department of Romance studies
Anastacia Kohl is a teaching associate professor and director of Spanish language instruction in the department of Romance studies and is an expert language instructor. Kohl creates a true community of learning within her class as students attest to in their remarks about her. She also has a significant impact on TAs and inspires in them a newfound love for teaching.
When asked about what it takes to be a good instructor today, Kohl said, “Two of the most important things are build community and be flexible. The pandemic really drove home the damage that feeling isolated can cause to our health and well-being. In language classes, students need to feel comfortable enough to be brave and take risks using the language in front of the instructor and their peers. If there is a strong sense of community in the class and if the students can sense that they are part of a larger learning community, it makes it so much easier for them to put themselves out there and contribute to discussions.”
“Flexibility has become especially important since 2020. Deadlines are good things in that they provide structure, discipline and motivation, but flexibility when warranted shows students that we trust them, and that we support them in meeting the objectives of the course, even when life throws them a curveball that requires some grace.”
Søren Palmer, teaching assistant professor, department of English and comparative literature
Søren Palmer is a teaching assistant professor in the department of English and comparative literature who specializes in English, comparative literature and creative writing. Palmer’s classroom is a place where students from varied cultural, religious and educational backgrounds establish relationships and learn from the experiences of others.
After receiving the award, Palmer reflected on a teacher that had an impact on him:
“In trudging my way through academia, I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of fantastic teachers, all of whom I try to emulate in one way or another. Tom Boyd, a philosophy professor at the University of Oklahoma, immediately comes to mind. He was not only passionate about a potentially dry subject but able to make it approachable for undergraduates. He had the ability to be brilliant and funny. By pushing me to think deeply about important topics and taking an interest in me personally, he basically turned around my flailing undergraduate performance. I don’t think I would’ve gotten into graduate school without him.”
Milada Vachudova, professor, department of political science
Milada Vachudova (FFP ’05, ’15) is a professor in the department of political science who specializes in European politics, political change in postcommunist Europe, the European Union and the impact of international actors on domestic politics. She draws connections across time and continents to deepen student understanding of domestic and world politics. She is an extraordinarily well-cited scholar in her field and, despite all of this success, has a tremendous ability to teach, inspire students and extend genuine care and compassion toward them.
Vachudova is a two-time IAH Faculty Fellow, most recently in 2015 as a Borden Fellow. At the time, her fellowship focused on “Democratization in the Western Balkans: Political Contestation and the Leverage of the European Union.”
The 2023 University Teaching Awards recognized 25 faculty members and graduate teaching assistants. The Center for Faculty Excellence’s University Teaching Awards Committee reviews nominations each fall and gathers additional information before recommending a slate of winners to the chancellor. Other award recipients include:
- Carla Merino-Rajme (FFP ’18), philosophy, for the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
- Chérie Rivers Ndaliko (FFP ’22), geography, for the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
- Katherine Turk (FFP ’21), history, for the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
See a full list of 2023 University Teaching Award recipients.
By Kristen Chavez, Institute for the Arts & Humanities