2016 Distinguished Teaching Award Recipients

Five UC Berkeley faculty have been selected as recipients of the 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award, the campus’s most prestigious honor for teaching. The award recognizes teaching that incites intellectual curiosity in students, engages them thoroughly in the enterprise of learning, and has a lifelong impact. The Academic Senate’s Committee on Teaching has selected:

  • Wendy Brown, Political Science
  • Georgina Kleege, English
  • Anne Joseph O’Connell, Law
  • Lisa Pruitt, Mechanical Engineering
  • Irfan Siddiqi, Physics

The recipients will be honored at a public ceremony and reception on April 21, 5pm, Sibley Auditorium.

Meet the Recipients

    Wendy Brown, Political Science

From her department nomination: “Wendy is everything that one could want in a teacher: a brilliant lecturer, dedicated to not just informing, but enabling students to make their own choices; a take-all-comers mentor, whose advising knows no disciplinary boundaries and who customizes her guidance to the distinct learning style of each student; a demanding yet empathetic adviser, who offers constant support throughout the Ph.D. process; and a generous provider of public goods and constructor of communities.”

In her own words: “I find the great works of political theory inexhaustible in meaning and inspiration; my task as a teacher is to bring these works alive for students who may not know what political theory is or how to find historical or worldly illumination in it.”

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        Anne Joseph O'Connell, Law

From her department nomination: Anne is lauded by the Law School for three reasons: “[she] is one of the most effective teachers at the Law School, one who communicates complex legal concepts with clarity, enthusiasm, and kindness. Second, [her] teaching is enriched by her substantial, innovative, and prize-winning scholarship in administrative law. Third, during this review period, [she] performed unparalleled administrative service to the Law School while delivering outstanding teaching in core curricular courses.”

In her own words: “I reached my position at Berkeley largely because particular teachers challenged and helped me, from elementary school through graduate school. My favorites were not flashy. In the classroom, their passion for the material grabbed me. Outside of class, I was both nonplussed and motivated by their interest in my intellectual and professional success. I try to emulate them in generating interest in unfamiliar subjects, providing different opportunities for learning, encouraging risk-taking and rebounding from failure, and opening doors to opportunities that may not be apparent. I meet students where they are and push them hard from that place.”

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               Irfan Siddiqi, Physics

From his department nomination: “Irfan is an outstanding, dedicated, and committed instructor, who has done consistently and exceptionally well in teaching undergraduate physics. He has achieved this through a brilliant lecturing style coupled with exquisite preparation and an abiding sense of humor and concern for the welfare of the students. He is also an exceptional mentor of graduate students, both as an academic advisor and as a research advisor. He is passionate in making Berkeley the best university in the world for educating future generations of physicists.”

In his own words: “I trace the current archetype of a physicist to a powerful filter rooted in traditional pedagogy which perpetually selects a certain type of thinker. By casting a wider net, I hope to propagate a ripple of cross-cutting ideas, linking seemingly disparate fields tackling complexity in the physical world— quantum mechanics, biology, and cosmology being currently on my radar. Classroom teaching for me begins by learning a new set of languages every semester. I am fluent in five, but what I am referring to here is not the spoken word, but rather the unconscious vernacular associated with the unique thought pattern of every undergraduate.”

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         Georgina Kleege, English

From her department nomination: “Georgina has a teaching record to admire, reflecting a stunning combination of charismatic teaching and dedication to student learning. What’s particularly striking is the praise she receives for making students feel like full participants in a communal learning enterprise. They don't only have the sense that they've learned, but also that they've produced learning.“

In her own words: “As I tell my students, I believe that passivity is the enemy of learning.  While I have knowledge and experience to impart to my students, I believe critical thinking develops from the habit of testing one’s ideas against others’, so I strive to structure classroom activities that will foster active intellectual exchange.”

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Lisa Pruitt, Mechanical Engineering

From her department nomination: “Lisa’s outstanding achievements as an educator and mentor at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and mastery of introducing research, frontiers into the classroom. Given the underrepresentation of women in Mechanical Engineering, Lisa has served as a shining role model in our department to help recruit, increase, and retain female undergraduate and graduate students.”

In her own words: “My personal teaching philosophy is to provide passion for learning, to offer real-world and translatable experiences, to deliver an inclusive learning environment and to lead each course with respect and integrity. In teaching our Berkeley students I am in awe of the energy in the classroom. A goal of my courses is to engage students in a way that builds their sense of inquiry and enhances their thirst for life-long learning. I am astonished not only by the ability of students to answer the questions that are posed to them in a lecture but also their ability to ask me thought-provoking questions that inspire my own mastery of the topic. It is a privilege to be a professor at Berkeley where teaching, mentorship and research are synergistic activities.” 

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