Hamilton College’s highest awards for teaching were presented to three faculty members by Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen during the May 7 faculty meeting.
Professor of Mathematics Rob Kantrowitz ’82 was awarded the Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching; Assistant Professor of Psychology Keelah Williams was honored with the John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award; and Assistant Professor of Classics Anne Feltovich received the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award.
Award descriptions and a list of previous recipients can be found on the Dean of Faculty site.
In addition, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Aaron Strong was presented with the Sidney Wertimer Award by Student Assembly at Class & Charter Day on May 13.
The Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Professor of Mathematics Rob Kantrowitz ’82 was awarded the Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Dean Keen said, “The professor who has won the Lang prize is notorious: he sets his office hours but exceeds them, often staying two hours past the posted times helping students with their homework and with difficult concepts.”
One student nominator wrote, “He is one of the best advisors for someone interested in any major; he always strongly encourages diversifying our course load and exploring what the open curriculum has to offer.”
Keen said, “Multiple students testify to the impact of office hours run along the lines of an Urgent Care clinic. For example, this student confesses, ‘I have taken a trying emotional roller coaster through calculus and statistics . . . thus linear algebra was the most daunting thing on the horizon. I did very poorly on my first exam this semester and I stopped by the professor’s office outside of office hours to ask about scheduling a time to meet with him to go over my test.
“Instead of scheduling a meeting in the future, he dropped everything he was doing and demanded that we go over it right then. He spent over an hour with me and didn’t move on until he was confident that I had a . . . grasp on all of the material that I missed on the exam.’”
Keen summed up Kantrowitz as “An excellent teacher in mathematics and an excellent teacher in life.”
The John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award
Assistant Professor of Psychology Keelah Williams was awarded the John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award.
A nominator writes, “I've never walked away from an interaction with her without having learned something new. She's the kind of teacher that makes you better, not just because she pushes you to your intellectual limits but because she actively makes you want to BE better. She radiates a contagious kind of passion in and outside of the classroom. . . . You can't help but love the subject in her presence because when she's teaching, she's so enthusiastic and knowledgeable that you can't see psychology as anything but the most fascinating discipline in the world.”
A student wrote: “Her research collaborations have led to students presenting work at national conferences, where one reports the impact of her mentoring: “I ended up being the youngest and yet the most experienced person at the undergraduate presenter meeting.”
Keen said, “Helping a student like this gain confidence and stop hiding her light under a bushel shows a kind of rigorous caring that extends beyond the classroom. So although student evaluations rave about the interactive demonstrations staged in her classroom, planting false memories or showing the unreliability of first-person witness accounts, and faculty colleagues praise this gifted pedagogue, it’s the positive impact on the students in her care that make such a deserving recipient of the winner … Keelah Williams.”
The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award
Assistant Professor of Classics Anne Feltovich received the class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen said, “This award-winner participates in the Hamilton community by attending guest lectures; meet-and-greets with current and prospective majors/minors; and by stopping by the Climbing Wall, which may be the locus classicus of going ‘above and beyond.’”
Keen said “One of this professor’s nominators observed assignments that encouraged deep thought and discussions that led students not only to consider the material, but also their own interpretations, based on their cultural backgrounds.
“Another regards this faculty member as singularly high-impact, a person who has provided unending support and numerous possibilities for expansion of knowledge and exploration of new interests. Each summer, this award winner brings a student to Greece to an archaeological dig, helping the lucky student understand the ins and outs of excavating, cataloguing finds and identifying artifacts.
“When one nominator wanted to quit the Greek 110 class because it was too hard, this professor offered extra study sessions. The student persisted, and put on plays she and her classmates had written and costumed themselves for their Ancient Comedy final. Exemplifying the spirit of paideia, with clear commitment and skill, this highly empathetic, dedicated, and fun-loving winner … is Anne Feltovich.”
Student Assembly Sidney Wertimer Award
Trained as an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist, Aaron Strong focuses his research on understanding the impacts of climate change and the dynamics of climate feedbacks in both terrestrial and marine systems, including work on ocean acidification, carbon sequestration, and sea-level rise.
Concerned with both the biophysical and human dimensions of climate change, Strong’s work also employs participatory scenario-based, spatially-explicit assessments that seek to enhance climate justice and provide actionable information to decision-makers.
He joined Hamilton as an assistant professor of environmental studies with a focus on climate change. Strong received his bachelor's in biology and political science from Swarthmore College, his master's in international climate policy from Tufts University and his doctorate from the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. Before coming to Hamilton Strong was an assistant professor in the School of Marine Sciences and the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine.