Jaime Kucinskas, Arathi Menon, and Rama Alhabian.
Hamilton’s highest awards for teaching excellence were presented to three faculty members by Dean of Faculty Ngoni Munemo during the May 2 faculty meeting. Munemo said 50 nominations from students were received for the awards.

Associate Professor of Sociology Jaime Kucinskas received the Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching; Assistant Professor of Arabic Studies Rama Alhabian was honored with the John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award; and Assistant Professor of Art History Arathi Menon was presented with the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Award descriptions and a list of previous recipients can be found on the Dean of Faculty website.

Jaime Lee Kucinskas
Jaime Kucinskas
Jaime Kucinskas
The Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Munemo noted that “one of the criteria for the Lang Prize is for the recipient to have a ‘profoundly positive effect on their students.’” He cited a student nominator’s letter that said in part: “I cannot emphasize enough how much [Kucinskas’] support means for students who feel marginalized on this campus. She has always pushed me to advocate for myself and has advocated for me when the red tape has felt too high. ... This kind of support in what may seem like simple tasks can have a significant positive impact on marginalized students’ quality of life and provide them an avenue in which they feel heard.”

Another student wrote, “[Kucinskas] … always makes time to meet with students, provide and explain feedback, and pushes students to do more without overworking them. ... In our current time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social and personal unrest, she has worked tirelessly to provide students the grace and respite they need while still maintaining [Hamilton’s] high academic standards.”

“She took note of me and my potential,” another student said. “The … lessons and research she provided me remain invaluable to my academic career, but the self-confidence I developed for myself with her support will remain with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life.”

Rama Alhabian
Rama Alhabian
Rama Alhabian
The John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award

Our student nominator called Alhabian “a hidden gem,” who “is always trying to find new ways to build and interact with the community at Hamilton.” The student said Alhabian … “never fails to provide thoughtful insight during class discussions, while also allowing her students to lead discussions”

Munemo noted, “For her part, [Alhabian] admits to a lifelong fascination with teaching. ‘I love standing in the classroom, communicating ideas to students, and being challenged by multiple perspectives,’ she said. COVID-19 brought special challenges, but Alhabian said, ‘Interacting with and learning from students made up for all the challenges I faced during the pandemic.’”

Students also see in Alhabian someone “who goes out of her way to build and create relationships with students who are overlooked, students who may need an outside perspective from someone like them, who shares those experiences.”

“Being a first generation, undocumented, Questbridge scholar,” a nominator wrote, “my goal was to get into college and finish just because that’s what is expected. However, after multiple conversations with [Alhabian], I have now started thinking about acquiring a Ph.D. These small interactions with professors like her have inspired not only me, but others as well, to achieve more — more than we initially thought possible.”

Arathi Menon
Arathi Menon
Arathi Menon
The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award

Munemo said that Menon “remembers a teacher she had as an undergraduate who changed her life and still provides encouragement and support; now she’s having a similar effect on the Hamilton students in her classrooms. A student nominator describes her as ‘one of the best professors I’ve ever had due to her constant encouragement and thoughtful understanding.’”

Another student appreciates that Menon “does an amazing job of teaching us material while also challenging us to come to our own conclusions.” Munemo continued, “When students struggle in class, they know that [Menon’s] door is always open and that she’s willing to help and accommodate them. That was especially true during COVID, when she redesigned lectures and assignments so that students could engage with the themes of [the] course with increased freedom.”

Viva Horowitz
Viva Horowitz

Menon was recently selected as one of only 10 recipients of this year’s Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art.

Viva Horowitz
Sidney Wertimer Award

At the Class & Charter Day ceremony on May 9, Assistant Professor of Physics Viva Horowitz received Student Assembly’s Sidney Wertimer Award.

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