Academic Excellence: Teaching with Passion

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Honors Week is marked with celebrations of our most accomplished teachers and students, including winners of our Creative Teaching Award. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to participate in the various ceremonies recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of the honorees from your schools and colleges.

Earlier this month the Office of Instruction hosted the annual First-Year Odyssey Seminar (FYOS) Teaching Awards ceremony where we recognized five FYOS instructors who demonstrated innovation in instruction, connection of seminar content to their research, and successful integration of FYOS program goals into their seminars. They all have been deeply engaged with their students, provided their students a strong connection to the university through their research, and tied their curriculum directly to FYOS program goals. We are proud of these faculty and what they’ve accomplished in the last year. The winners and their seminar titles are:

  • Gary Green, assistant dean of academic affairs and professor of natural resources, recreation and tourism, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources – “Natural Resource Conservation Issues”
  • John Maurer, professor of population health, College of Veterinary Medicine – “The Zombie Plague”
  • Andrew Owsiak, associate professor of international affairs, School of Public and International Affairs – “Unintended Consequence of Calculated Risk: The Origins of World War I”
  • Janice Simon, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of Art History, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences – “Looking at Art in the Georgia Museum of Art”
  • Beth Tolley, clinical associate professor of educational theory and practice, College of Education – “So, You Think You Want to Teach?”

You can read more about their seminars and how they creatively engage their students in their research while introducing them to UGA and community resources and opportunities. 

Incidentally, FYOS are increasingly incorporating a variety of hands-on activities for faculty and students. For example, take a look at some of the work that Associate Professor Brian Williams in the School of Public and International Affairs has done in his FYOS this semester. The students in his course, "The Current State of Police-Community Relations: Problems and Prospects," designed and coordinated a community mural painting project with campus and local police officers and teenagers from a local youth outreach program. This is just one example of how our faculty engage students in our community while tying their coursework to their research.

In addition to honoring our outstanding faculty, we also pay tribute to our outstanding teaching assistants who play a vital role in supporting our faculty. The graduate school recognized five graduate students with Excellence in Teaching Awards and the Office of Instruction’s Center for Teaching and Learning honored 120 students with Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Congratulations to all of our excellent faculty and graduate teaching assistants. If you are using innovative teaching methods in your classroom, please let me know. I’d like to hear what you’re doing!


Rahul Shrivastav
Vice President for Instruction