Celebrating Academic Excellence

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Spring has become one of my favorite seasons—it’s a time of celebration for our faculty and staff who have worked hard to improve the lives of UGA’s students. Spring is when we recognize the innovative teaching and guidance of our faculty, teaching assistants, and advisors. We kicked off the recognition season with what is now becoming an annual tradition—surprise visits (with cookies) by the Office of Instruction to our 2017 Creative Teaching Award and 2017 Outstanding Academic Advisor Award recipients in March.

The Creative Teaching Award recognizes faculty who use innovation in their teaching techniques to help students succeed. This year we’ve chosen four faculty who took teaching beyond the confines of a traditional classroom and made learning more accessible and meaningful for their students. The winners and their projects are:

  • Dr. Trisha Branan (College of Pharmacy)—“Virtual Intensive Care Patient Room”
  • Dr. Jason Cantarella (Mathematics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences)—“Robot Calculus”
  • Dr. Julie Luft (Mathematics and Science Education, College of Education) and Dr. Kristen Miller (Biological Sciences, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences)—“Peer Learning Assistant Training Course”

Find out more about their innovative projects and why they deserve this recognition. 

Our Outstanding Academic Advising Award recognizes staff members for excellence in advising undergraduate students. The winners are:

  • Cindy Schulman (Exploratory Center for Academic Advising), advisor of intended business majors and transfer students
  • Jessie Daniels (Terry College of Business), advisor of non-traditional and online BBA students

Read more about why these advisors were chosen.

Earlier this month we honored our faculty receiving a First-Year Odyssey Seminar Teaching Award. Among those receiving highest honors for their teaching methods are:

  • Dr. Gary Green (Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources)—“Natural Resource Conservation Issues”
  • Dr. John Maurer (College of Veterinary Medicine)—“The Zombie Plague”
  • Dr. Andrew Owsiak (School of Public and International Affairs)—“Unintended Consequence of Calculated Risk: The Origins of World War I”
  • Dr. Janice Simon (Lamar Dodd School of Art, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences)—“Looking at Art in the Georgia Museum of Art
  • Dr. Beth D. Tolley (College of Education)— “So, You Think You Want to Teach?”

These faculty are dedicated to assimilating our first-year students to a large research university by introducing them to their research, as well as campus and community resources, while also making important faculty-to-student connections and bringing together students with like interests.

Each year we also recognize our best teaching assistants at the University of Georgia with an Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by the Graduate School. These awards recognize the work of graduate teaching assistants who have made a significant contribution to the instructional mission of the university. The five recipients are:

  • Meghan Barnes (Language and Literacy Education)
  • J. Aaron Harris (Cellular Biology)
  • Caitlin Ishibashi (Plant Biology)
  • Haley O'Steen (Finance
  • Marcela Reales Visbal (Romance Languages)

This spring we also recognized 120 of our graduate teaching assistants with an Outstanding Teaching Award. Check out the list and see if you recognize any of these TA’s from your classes.

All of these faculty, staff and graduate teaching assistants have one thing in common: a strong passion for helping students achieve. They are the heart of this university and motivate our students to not only succeed but to excel. Please join me in congratulating our winners and hopefully, their innovation inspires you. If one of your teachers uses a technique that changes the way you learn, please let me know! I’d love to hear what they’re doing.


Rahul Shrivastav
Vice President for Instruction