Ranging from the Academy Awards to the Pulitzer Prize, every field of occupation conducts ceremonies to recognize the outstanding achievements in its profession.
Likewise, the Department of Undergraduate Education had long been planning for an event to award exceptional teaching faculties. However, the lack of sponsorship has crippled such an event from taking place at UCI.
A little over a decade ago, De Gallow, currently the director of the Instructional Resources Center had decided to begin the tradition of an annual celebration of excellence in teaching.
‘Most of the people just appreciate being recognized for what they do. Why wait till we have funding when we can just have a great big party for teachers?’ Gallow said.
With that spirit, even though she had to print out the very first set of teachers’ awards on her office printer, Gallow managed to organize the first Celebration of Teaching in 1994.
Throughout the years, the ceremony has become progressively more sophisticated. On May 26 the 11th annual Celebration of Teaching took place at the University Club.
At 4:30 p.m., the University Club, decorated with bouquets, vibrant roses and gold and white balloons, opened its doors to the guests of the ceremony.
Upon their entry, the guests were welcomed to help themselves to a wide array of fruits and vegetables as well as a great variety of appetizers.
As everyone settled into their seats, the ceremony began. Meredith Lee, dean of undergraduate education opened the event with a brief speech.
Reciting a poem named ‘To be of Use’ by Marge Peircy to praise the hard work of her colleagues, Lee read, ‘I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again.’
After Lee’s opening speech, the ceremony continued with the presentation of the school awards.
Each year around late February, the IRC contacts the deans of each school, soliciting nominations for the school awards. The school awards include one for senate faculty, meaning someone who has a tenure professorship at UCI, one non-senate faculty and one graduate student. Each dean then gathers recommendations from the faculty and staff and selects the three award recipients from his or her school.
At the ceremony, honorees received an engraved plaque from their deans, recognizing their outstanding achievements in teaching.
Aside from the school awards, the ceremony also gives out six categories of special awards. These awards include Teaching Innovator of the Year, Instructional Technology Award, Departmental Curriculum Award, Teaching Assistant Development Awards and UCI Most Promising Future Faculty Members Awards. Honorees of these special awards receive a monetary prize as well as an engraved glass sculpture.
Carla Copenhaven, course director of the composition program in the English and comparative literature department, won the Teaching Assistant Professional Development Award for her exceptional contribution to the English 39B course. ‘It’s really nice to work in an environment where your colleagues recognize you,’ Copenhaven said after receiving her glass sculpture.
Laura Zettel, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, took home one of the two Most Promising Future Faculty Members Awards for the excellence of her research, teaching and service to her department.
‘I am flattered to be recognized by the school and the department,’ Zettel said. She also received a school award and a Teaching Assistant Consultant Award.
After the presentation of all the awards, the ceremony provided its guests with chocolate and carrot cakes while the recipients had their pictures taken.
The 11th annual Celebration of Teaching, as in previous years, ended with laughter and cheers.
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