Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two UW20 Faculty Win Bender Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Professors Lauren Sallinger and Derek Malone-France honored for excellent teaching.

The Bender Teaching Awards, endowed by friend of the University Morton Bender, recognize teaching excellence at GW. Recipients receive a $500 prize to be used for travel to a professional meeting, the purchase of equipment, or some other activity related to faculty development. The recipients are selected by a committee of faculty each spring semester based on letters of support from students and faculty, student teaching evaluations, and examples of teaching materials and completed student work.

From the Bender Award Committee's commendation:

Lauren Sallinger: After receiving a B.A. from Harvard University in English and American Literature and Language in 1995, Lauren Sallinger earned her M.A. in nonfiction writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 2002.

Lauren began teaching at GW as an Adjunct Instructor in Writing in the University Writing Program in the Fall of 2006. Her central research is on Middle East politics, particularly the intersection of religion and politics.

One of Lauren’s colleagues notes that "Lauren’s students were genuinely attached to her. Her classroom persona is much like her personality outside of class: Lauren is sincere, sweet-natured, and patient with her students. She treats her students with respect, and they respect her in turn. The class atmosphere was trusting and amicable; they all clearly have a good rapport with Lauren and with each other."

Another colleague writes: "Her teaching is engaging and thoughtful; her class exercises a focus on making the relevance of what she is teaching visible to the students; and her student evaluations have consistently been among the strongest in the program."

And still another colleague writes that "Lauren’s University Writing 20 class, Imagining America; Social Reflection and the Politics of Place,, encourages students to look at the way that activists use language to try to change the world….it encourages students to study writing not only as readers and critics but also as aspiring writers themselves: the skillful use of language is the object of study, the method through which the object is studied, and the goal."

One student writes that, "Professor Sallinger is a rare type of professor who goes beyond classroom basics and fully educates her students, not just through books but through first-hand experience as well. She encouraged us to explore this cultural Mecca that is Washington, D.C. She shared stories of her travels to the Middle East and her personal experiences with protests, showing us that the outside world is an exciting place and that we can all make a difference if we make our voices heard… She has left a lasting impression on me that will positively influence my future, and I am sure that many of her other students share my sentiments."

Derek Malone-France: Derek Malone-France has been working at GW since 2005 as an Assistant Professor of Writing teaching in the University Writing Program. Professor Malone-France received his B.A. in Philosophy in 1995 from Wofford College and his Ph.D. in Religion from the Claremont Graduate University in 2001.

He has published many articles, in addition to his first book, Deep Empiricism: Kant, Whitehead, and the Necessity of Philosophical Theism, which was published in 2006. He has just completed the first volume of a two-volume edited anthology of The Global Literature of Political Dissent, to be published in spring of 2009.

Comments and reviews from colleagues and students alike convey a glowing and enthusiastic picture of Derek Malone-France. His teaching is described by a colleague as “innovative, challenging, and rigorous,” while a student’s evaluation states that, “Professor Malone-France is the ideal professor: knowledgeable caring, challenging, and fair.”

Another colleague observes, “Professor Malone-France is not just an exemplary professor, he also embodies the very qualities he asks of his students – diligence with care, intellectual rigor with curiosity, and dedication with discovery – to show through truly authentic example, as the best teachers in our lives do, the excitement and deep value that can come of the active life of the mind…knowledge is a great gift to students.

Student praise does not lag behind that of colleagues as one student writes, “Despite the innate difficulty of studying the subject, Philosophical Explanations of Religion, Professor Malone-France makes his students want to come in and participate day after day. He does this by recognizing and respecting his students as intellectuals.”

Students continuously praise his innovative and motivating University Writing 20 course and his personal integrity. One student writes of his “respect for Professor Malone-France not only as a professor, but also as a person…his quality of character is truly admirable.”

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