L&S faculty received nine of the dozen 2017 Distinguished Teaching Awards, an honor that has been awarded since 1953 to recognize the university’s best educators. Congratulations to this year’s winners:
- Sandra Adell, Professor of Afro-American Studies, Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
- Andrea Arpaci-Dusseau, Professor of Computer Sciences, Van Hise Outreach Award
- Cindy I-Fen Cheng, Associate Professor of History, Inclusive Excellence Award
- Thomas DuBois, Professor of German, Nordic and Slavic Languages, Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
- Ralph Grunewald, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies and the Center for Law, Society and Justice, William H. Kiekhofer Award
- Daniel Kapust, Associate Professor of Political Science, Class of 1955 Teaching Excellence Award
- Jordan Schmidt, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
- Claire Wendland, Professor of Anthropology, Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
- Stephen Young, Assistant Professor of Geography, Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
The amount of new gifts the university has received to date through the Nicholas Match. Nancy Nicholas and the late Albert “Ab” Nicholas gave an incredible $50 million donation, asking alumni and friends to join them in supporting UW-Madison students.
These gifts will be invested in the UW Foundation’s endowment, and once fully funded, will generate about $4.5 million in annual scholarships to recruit and retain outstanding students.
The number of L&S students who have graduated with a Digital Studies Certificate since it began being offered in fall 2012. The 15-credit program allows undergraduates to choose from more than 50 courses from a wide range of departments to create their own individualized digital curriculum.
'K' is for kindness
If it were up to Elmo, the world would be a kinder place — down to the very trash can Oscar the Grouch calls home. The beloved children's show Sesame Street is emphasizing kindness this season with the help of the Center for Healthy Minds, an L&S research center that studies the science of well-being and how it can be nurtured.
“The kind of interventions and practices we’re studying have a great deal of relevance and promise for the types of problems we’re facing today in our culture,” says Richard Davidson, founder of the center and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry. “These strategies help people to recognize that we’re all the same — we all share a desire to be happy and free of suffering, and when we embrace that perspective, divisions become more permeable and less formidable as obstacles.”
The center's Kindness Curriculum encourages children to be aware of both themselves and the world around them — work that aligns with Sesame Street’s goals.
“Providing parents and teachers the tools and resources they need to help instill kindness and empathy in their children is at the core of Sesame’s mission,” says Jeffrey Dunn, CEO of Sesame Workshop.
“We want to engage in a national conversation about kindness.”
Greg Nemet and Gregg Mitman are among just 35 distinguished scholars, journalists and authors named 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellows by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The program supports scholars in the social sciences and humanities as they research challenges to democracy and international order.
For Nemet, a professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the fellowship will help fund a project to examine how solar energy has become inexpensive. Mitman, the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History and Environmental Studies, intends to use his fellowship to complete a book exploring how the history of corporate land acquisitions has shaped the nation of Liberia.
Deshawn McKinney is a man with a plan. Kind of. “My path in college has just been letting the wind carry me wherever it does and I’ll land somewhere,” says the creative writing major. “That’s how it kind of feels. I’m at a point now where I trust that process and I trust that path.”
So far, letting the wind carry him has worked pretty well. He has been named a winner of the Marshall Scholarship, a prestigious award given to up to 40 scholars each year to study at the graduate level at a UK institution in any field of study. Last November, he was named a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.
McKinney’s creative work centers on issues of identity and the intersectionality of race, class and gender. He’s also been an active supporter of Black Lives Matter and has worked on improving campus climate.
He knows he wants a career in public service, helping others. What exactly does that look like? He’s still figuring it out. What he does know is that looking for opportunities and taking chances has worked well for him.
A BioCore Birthday
Back in 1967, the Biology Core Curriculum program formed to foster a collaborative learning community for a select cohort of young scientists. For the past 50 years, the integrated four-semester biology honors program has taken biological concepts to higher levels of thinking, preparing students for exciting research and work in the biological sciences.
The Power of Peers
It’s no secret on campus that introductory computer science courses can be quite challenging. So a new tutoring lab within the Department of Computer Sciences is providing students with the extra help they may need to succeed.
The Computer Sciences Learning Center, which opened in 2016, is run by 15 tutors and supported by funds from a generous gift that Sheldon and Marianne Lubar of Milwaukee gave the department in 2015. Students can drop in for as-needed, peer-to-peer help.
Michael Cook says students often speak more freely with tutors like him than with their course instructors. “There is a different dynamic between a student and a tutor,” he says. “[Students] are aware that we don’t control grades, and [they] are much more open when asking questions.”
Tutoring services also help students understand how they’re doing relative to peers, which is important, says faculty associate Laura Hobbes LeGault. “Students may feel embarrassed about needing help, and then the tutor will say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve had that question 12 times already.’ So students realize that the fact they’re having trouble is not a personal reflection on them. Getting help gives them a reality check in a positive way.”