Log in

Teaching Excellence Awardees - from past years

Current Awardees are here

2023 Laureates

Hans Bork (Stanford) – Classics (Latin)/ Digital Humanities. Ph.D., UCLA 2018, M.A.; Washington University in St. Louis, 2011, B.A.; Classics, UMass Amherst, 2009, B.A.; English Literature, UMass Amherst, 2009.

I am one of the Latin Language and Literature faculty at the Stanford Department of Classics, though I like to think of myself as a "Historian of Language" — someone who studies not just how languages are used as they are, and why that is so, but also how languages change over time, and the social forces that cause them to change. As a result, I tend to teach and write about texts, people, and time periods that are “on the margins”: comedy and vernacular texts; the enslaved, itinerant performers, non-elite peoples. That is, non-“Classical” texts and topics. In both teaching and scholarship, my conviction is that history and literature are shaped as much by unknown participants and unnamed readers as by “big names.” I want my students to explore and think about history—literary, linguistic, temporal—as something vital in their daily lives. Something they participate in, and something they can change.

Seeta Chaganti (UC Davis) – English (Old and Middle English Literature); Ph.D., Yale University, 2001; M.A., Georgetown University, 1995; A.B., Harvard University, 1989

Seeta Chaganti joined the faculty of the UC Davis English department in 2001. She specializes in Old and Middle English poetry and its intersections with material culture. Her first book was The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). Her new book, Strange Footing (Chicago, 2018) argues that to medieval audiences, poetic form was a multimedia experience shaped by encounters with dance. In this work, she proposes a new method of reenacting medieval dance that draws upon experiences of watching contemporary dance. Her current work argues that early English law has enabled both state-sanctioned and extrajudicial violence in the US by naturalizing the relation between whiteness and property. 

Chaganti currently serves as a Trustee of the New Chaucer Society (2018-22); an Executive Board Member of Race before Race; and a member of Medievalists of Color.

Lianne Kurina (Stanford) – Medical: Primary Care and Population Health/Human Biology (Hasenkamp Award)

I am an epidemiologist and have investigated topics from stress, to sleep, to the health of active-duty military personnel. In addition to research and teaching, I direct the Program in Human Biology at Stanford, the second largest major at Stanford. Human Biology is filled with wonderful students eager to pursue interdisciplinary training in order to address some of the most pressing problems facing humanity. 

Since starting my teaching career decades ago, I have been thankful for the opportunity to work with students. One of my favorite courses to teach is introduction to statistics, a delightful challenge because: students are required to take statistics for our major; statistics is, by reputation, extremely boring; and students need to additionally learn a coding language in this course, which many have avoided doing thus far. What I enjoy more than anything is seeing the confidence and ownership students gain with coding and statistics as the quarter progresses. That moment when students transition from dragging their feet and feeling anxious about their abilities to jogging along and asking questions and sharing new code with me – that is just the best.  

It’s hard to imagine anything more satisfying than the job we teachers have of allowing light into peoples’ lives in such a way that they see the world differently. In my mind, things that we don’t understand are opaque and have fuzzy outlines. I think of good teaching as helping to make one small part of the world clearer for students. That is what teaching means to me. 

Tom McEnaney. Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Spanish & Portuguese, and New Media, University of California, Berkeley. 

Tom McEnaney works on the history of media and technology, Argentine, Cuban, and U.S. literature, sound studies, linguistic anthropology, computational (digital) humanities, and new media studies. For McEnaney, the classroom is a laboratory where ideas can be tested and new creations made, a forum where students are challenged to learn to listen to one another, and a community in which they can place their trust in order to be receptive to different perspectives. He has devoted the last decade to creating welcoming and challenging classes that emphasize the importance of academic research in today’s technologically and culturally diverse world. Working in different media such as podcasting, 3D printing, and Excel spreadsheets, McEnaney strives to give students different avenues to reflect on the meaning, value, and relevance of the materials they study. He cares deeply about how material differences change meaning; the medium matters because it helps students consider how meaning changes when one encounters the same basic message on Twitter, in a novel, or on TV. Working in different media helps students understand the unique capabilities of writing text and, in McEnaney’s experience, vastly improves their appreciation for and talent for essay writing. In addition to teaching in the classroom, McEnaney has devoted years to diversity training workshops, student outreach, recruitment, and mentorship. 

Esther Yu. Assistant Professor of English Esther Yu, Stanford University.

As a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, Esther Yu has been working on a forthcoming book, Experiencing the Novel: The Genre of Tender Conscience, which argues that subjects in seventeenth-century England claimed political voices through identifying as what they called “tender consciences.” The convictions of Yu’s research have thoroughly informed her pedagogical principles even during these trying times, for as early modern “tender consciences” realized, developing dispositions of care and sensitivity—even to texts that seem strange or initially difficult or irrelevant—can yield world-historical consequences.

Yu is especially mindful of the cultural divide that makes it difficult to ask students grappling with so many crises at once to read epic poems and epistolary novels with the intense receptivity that they require. But it is a challenge she feels especially compelled to take up, not least of all because of her own oblique relationship as a postcolonial subject and minority scholar to the archive of English literature. Yu encourages students from diverse backgrounds to recognize the interpretive urgency—and creative, transformative possibilities—that attend experiences of textual distance and cultural alienation or hostility.

2022 Laureates

Michael Dylan Foster, Ph.D., Dept. of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Professor and Chair, UC Davis

YouTube Video:

He completed his studies at Stanford, Kanagawa (Japan), UCB, and Wesleyan. His book about Japanese folklore entitled “The Book of Yokai” is available on Amazon and as an audiobook on Audible. The student who nominated him described how Dr. Foster made Japanese folklore a relevant and powerful tool for understanding oneself and others in today’s western culture.

Laura D. Gutiérrez, Ph.D., Dept. of History, Assistant Professor, University of the Pacific is at the forefront of current debates over diversity, equity, and inclusion. Border studies is her primary focus, and her recent research centers on the history of Mexican deportations in the US. Dr. Gutiérrez completed her training at USC, Stanford, and UCSD. Her nominator described the many creative and innovative techniques used by Dr. Gutiérrez to foster personal connections between students and the history that they are learning. 

  Claire Waters, Ph.D., (Hasenkamp Award) Dept. of English, Affiliated Faculty - Program in Classics, Dept. of French and Italian, Professor and Chair, UC Davis, PBK Northwestern 1991. 

YouTube Video:

Her primary research area is late medieval literature (Middle English and Latin). Aside from being a much-beloved professor, Dr. Waters has received many awards and accolades, and her publishing accomplishments are impressive. Her nominator described her as dedicated, devoted, and fun. Indeed, one of her current works is entitled “Mystics, Goddesses, Lovers, and Teachers.” Dr. Waters completed her studies at Harvard, Cambridge, and Northwestern and was inducted into PBK in 1991. 

Clancy Wilmott, Ph.D., Dept. of Geography and Berkeley Center for New Media, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley.

YouTube video:

Highly accomplished in her field, Dr. Clancy Wilmott is passionate about ensuring success and self-empowerment for all students, including those who have historically been deterred from pursuing math, technology, and data science owing to institutional barriers. Her student nominator characterized her as possessing “signature humor, warmth, and panache.” The following is an excerpt from Dr. Wilmott's nomination letter: "When Professor Wilmott comes up in conversation, I don’t have the time to exchange this story and communicate to people the incalculable ways she has impacted my life, especially with everyone else chiming in to praise her, so I’m nominating her for this award in the hope that she gets the recognition she deserves - not just for the way she has impacted my life, but the way I know she impacts the lives of every person who is lucky enough to find their way into her classroom."

2021 Laureates

Courtney Lehmann, Ph.D.; Dept. of English, Director of the Powell Scholars Program, University of the Pacific; PBK University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 1989 (Hasenkamp Award

View a video of Dr. Lehmann discussing her teaching philosophy

Dr. Courtney Lehmann goes above and beyond to provide the most holistic and meaningful education to each of her students. She is the Director of the Powell Scholars Program, the University of the Pacific's highest academic merit scholarship that funds tuition, independent research, and study abroad opportunities. The program's goal is to cultivate leaders and global thinkers to make a difference in our communities, and Dr. Lehmann runs the club with fortitude and optimism. She is absolutely dedicated to developing students as moral human beings who strive to make the world a better place. For example, in my class, she helped facilitate an SAT tutoring initiative for disadvantaged kids in the Stockton community to help equalize opportunity despite socioeconomic status. In our thinking as students, she continues to push students to actualize our goals fully. Everything that she does contributes to an environment where students truly feel as though they can realize their full potential. For this, I deeply thank Dr. Lehmann for her incredible academic achievements and the knack she has for drawing out of each of her students.

Paul Graham Fisher M.D.; Dept. of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Chief of the Division of Child Neurology, Stanford University

View a video of Dr. Fisher discussing his teaching philosophy

Out of all the teachers I had at Stanford over my four years there, I cannot think of a more deserving instructor for this award than Dr. Paul Fisher. He cares deeply about his students, inspires them to be better students and more thoughtful people, and facilitates critical thinking in the classroom. I was never officially Paul’s mentee, but he always made time to meet with me and check in on how I was doing. He would tell me that the path to medicine is a marathon, not a race, and in order to be a good doctor in the future, I needed to take the time to explore my diverse interests and put myself out of my comfort zone. Largely thanks to his encouragement and reassurance...I am currently pursuing a master’s in bioinformatics at Imperial College London under a Fulbright Scholarship. Paul always facilitated critical, analytical, and creative thinking in the classroom.... Paul not only taught the basics of epidemiology, but he also taught us how to process and communicate what we learned in the context of the real world.

William Swagerty, Ph.D.; Dept. of History, Director of the John Muir Center, University of the Pacific

View a video of Dr. Swagerty discussing his teaching philosophy

Dr. Swagerty is the archetype of a dedicated and passionate teacher… it is so clear how much he genuinely cares about his students. Here, [at the University of the Pacific] students…feel part of a network, with educators truly dedicated to our success. Dr. Swagerty is a perfect example of such an educator. I have taken three classes with him; John Muir's World, Historical Imagination, and Native American History. In every class, it is clear how extensively he knows every single element of every topic he teaches about. One can see his love of the field. As my advisor, Dr. Swagerty constantly believed in me and gave me the confidence to achieve. Without Dr. Swagerty's constant encouragement, I don't know if I would have had the confidence to present a paper of mine. For his dedication to his students and passion for the subject, I believe Dr. Swagerty deserves recognition for his outstanding teaching.

David Cohen, Ph.D.; Dept. of Classics, Director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University

David is everything I aspire to be. He is a paragon of interdisciplinary thinking, and he is driven by the desire to create opportunities for his students and colleagues. I am now motivated by the hope of using, and one day being able to pass on, all the knowledge and support he has given me. In addition to teaching in Classics, David leads several important judiciary reform projects in countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, and Ethiopia. Whether in Jakarta, on campus, or over the phone, he has always made himself available to hear my ideas and push me to think more creatively, using his wealth of concrete factual knowledge about the Tokyo Trial, on which he wrote the premier scholarly work, and several different moral and philosophical frameworks gained only through his fieldwork in Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, and the many other transitional justice forums of which he has been a part. David is a true example of teaching excellence. Without a doubt, he is the most impactful faculty member that I have met at Stanford.

2020 Laureates

R. Lanier Anderson, J.E. Wallace Sterling Prof. in Humanities, Sr Associate Dean of Humanities and Arts, Dept. of Philosophy, Stanford University

Despite being exceptionally busy as chair and now Dean, Professor Anderson often spends up to an hour after class answering clarifying questions or delving into a deeper discussion. Crucially, he never makes students feel bad for taking up his time or that he is eager to leave the conversation and go elsewhere. His attention to a student in the moment is absolute, the kind of affirming encouragement that tells us that we are a priority. … Professor Anderson’s commitment to student engagement helps students develop analytical abilities that they can then deploy, in his class, in service of questions of personal, intellectual import. … Not only is he a remarkable researcher, but it is also clear that he cares deeply about teaching. He is an animated teacher, bringing to life the stakes of an argument and hooking his students immediately.

Philosophy is notorious for joining math and physics as the disciplines perceived as “genius” fields, a distinction that brings with it shocking demographics with a dearth of women and people of color. … it’s important that faculty members [do as Professor Anderson does to] help build up a culture of encouragement, so that the work is not left to the few role models of underrepresented identities. Professor Anderson has been a crucial mentor and advocate for me, helping me to see myself as belonging in philosophy.

Barbara Barnes, Dept. of Gender and Women’s Studies, U.C. Berkeley

Dr. Barnes is a legend among students, who often arrive early to discuss her previous lectures, sharing epiphanies with each other. Her syllabi contain a balanced mix of foundational texts and newly published works; thus, her students receive a grounded understanding of the history and context of each topic while also responding to recent scholarly discussions. Her readings demand an understanding of complex theories across multiple fields of inquiry. To ensure that each student fully comprehends these concepts, Dr. Barnes establishes a culture of inclusion within the classroom, and this sense of belonging increases trust and safety so that each student feels personally invited to participate….

Dr. Barnes’ lectures are engaging and inspiring. She sparks the imagination and encourages cutting edge ideas. She teaches people how to think critically about the world in which we live while creating a safe environment wherein students learn, explore, and innovate. She does this by perfectly balancing the material she teaches with student participation. Dr. Barnes embodies a level of skill and talent that is extremely rare.

Video prepared by Barbara Barnes

Stephen Hinshaw, Dept. of Psychology, U.C. Berkeley

Stephen Hinshaw perfectly walks the line between someone distraught by the past and present societal practices around mental illness and someone who is wonderfully hopeful that society can change. He encouraged empathy and understanding supremely. He challenged students to critically think, constantly question, and never fall victim to groupthink. Professor Hinshaw could powerfully articulate the troubles in the mental health field while still leaving students with a sense of optimism and power to change. Never before have I had the privilege of experiencing such a thoughtful, driven, and accomplished teacher on a regular basis. My time in his class is one of the most cherished times in my life. He is incredibly deserving of this amazing honor.

Video prepared by Stephen Hinshaw

Scott D. Sagan, Dept. of Political Science, Stanford University

… In almost every meeting, the central question Professor Sagan would raise was how our work would support the praxis of the policy world. … the quality of his work that I most admire is his capacity to use a thorough inspection of philosophy and history to guide pragmatic policy recommendations. Above all, Professor Sagan is a caring mentor. Though Professor Sagan’s expectations for his students are the highest, I am inspired by his open-mindedness and humility. He listens to my ideas, considers every edit or direction I suggest, critiques my work with honest and helpful comments, and encourages me to publish my own writing. The respect and kindness Professor Sagan shows to his students was evident at a Stanford event in DC this July. Several former research assistants and students showed up to hear his talk, and after the event, we all got together to reminisce over how much we appreciated his guidance and mentorship. Truly, this network of Sagan students is remarkable; grounded by his example, Professor Sagan’s students are eager mentors and have helped me find my own professional and personal directions.

Video prepared by Scott Sagan

2019 Laureates

James Housefield, Dept of Design, UC Davis

He has the respect of hundreds of students and what's even better is that he respects every one of his students just as much. After meeting a student once, he already commits their name, face, and interests into his memory. He's one of the few professors and human beings I feel like truly and honestly cares about people. He's an academic and a historian, a fantastic orator, a lifetime learner, an incredible human being, and for me, a life-changer. And I know I'm not the only person who thinks that. He is the most deserving person I can think of to receive this Teaching Excellence award, especially for all the work he's done for the art and design field, through scholarly research and through the students he has mentored to step into their full potential


Daniel Mason, Dept of Psychiatry, Stanford University

I would like to enthusiastically nominate Dr. Daniel Mason for the Phi Beta Kappa teaching prize. I have had the pleasure of taking two of Dr. Mason’s classes: the Literature of Psychosis, for which I am now a TA, and Culture and Madness. These classes have by far been the most influential and transformative I have taken at Stanford, and I am sure that I will continue to apply these lessons far after I have graduated from Stanford.

Dr. Mason is first and foremost one of the most genuinely caring professors I have ever had. He cares deeply that each student has the opportunity engage with the material, have their opinions heard during class, and also have their viewpoints challenged (respectfully!) during class discussions. Dr. Mason takes great care to read each and every student reading response before lecture, revising the day’s lesson plan based on what students have written, and questions they raised in their responses. This is a great labor of love that speaks to how much time and dedication Dr. Mason is willing to put in to ensure that the students are receiving the best education they can. His class has blossomed from a small introsem to a hugely popular 90- person lecture. Despite the class size, Dr. Mason is able to create a sense of intimacy and camaraderie among his students by investing in each student as though it were still a small seminar class, and also encouraging small-group discussions and debates in class. During the first week, he took the time to memorize the names and faces of each student in class, and greeted them each by name as they entered the classroom. When students raise their hand, he makes the effort to call each student by name. These are small gestures, but meaningful ones that make students feel like they are valued by their professor, and that the classroom is a safe place for them to voice their opinions and learn from their peers.


David Olson, Dept of Chemistry, UC Davis

As a student involved in undergraduate research, I had many friends who worked at laboratories in various departments at UC Davis. During our conversations, I became aware of how fortunate I was to have Dr. Olson as a mentor. His approach to the education of undergraduate students in the laboratory was unique among his colleagues. Most principal investigators assign undergraduate researchers to projects that are already led by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Moreover, the responsibilities of these undergraduate researchers are limited to conducting basic experiments and analyzing data without any knowledge of the purpose behind their actions or the ultimate goal of the research project. Dr. Olson on the hand treats his undergraduate students like any other member of his research group. Accordingly, they share similar responsibilities. They are routinely involved in discussions surrounding the fate of the research group and are always encouraged to participate in group meetings. My personal experience was not any different.



Gabriel Orebi Gann, Dept of Physics, UC Berkeley

Professor Orebi Gann stands out for multiple reasons, both as an instructor and as a mentor. She was my instructor for my very first physics class at Berkeley - introductory mechanics. Making the leap from high school to college is always daunting but particularly so when going to one of the best physics departments in the world. Professor Orebi Gann facilitated this transition excellently in a way that managed to achieve the delicate balance between pushing her students hard and exposing them to a more sophisticated way of thinking and ensuring that her students had a good understanding of the basics of the material. In this way she effectively taught us freshmen topics typically reserved for upperclassmen, such as coupled oscillators and in depth look at Kepler orbits, without scaring us all into changing our majors and instead keeping our interest fully engaged. In fact, now in hindsight as an upperclassman I am amazed at what she was able to teach us considering she only had the  tools of Newtonian mechanics and not the more advanced machinery of Lagrangian mechanics. Lectures were peppered with humour and engaging demos.



Robert Siegel, Dept of Microbiology, Stanford University

Dr. Siegel is constantly thinking about how he can help his students and genuinely cares about the future of each and every student. Dr. Siegel even hosts Breakfast Meetings at his house, so students have the opportunity to speak with leading experts in the fields of Women’s Health, Infectious Disease, and Global Health. Through these discussions, students are inspired to address pressing issues in Global Health and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Siegel reminds his students that it’s never too early to think critically about issues that we feel passionate about, and more importantly, it’s never too early to change the world. Dr. Siegel’s passion for mentorship has been the reason why I feel empowered to address global issues such as the rise of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Siegel is truly changing the world one student at a time.

2018 Laureates

Ron E. Hassner, Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley (Hasenkamp Award)

"the quality of critical analysis and innovation in Ron's courses always exceeds expectations."


Kinch Hoekstra, Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley

"it helps that he also brings to every discussion an additional layer of philosophical discussion that reaches well beyond the historical confines of any text the class reads."


Naomi Janowitz, Department of Religious Studies, UC Davis

"Every student must attend her office hour at least once and give feed back on the class"


Martha Olney, Department of Economics, UC Berkeley

"she is capable of breaking down complicated economics concepts into pieces that are easy to understand and connect to the real world."


Jon D. Rossini, Department of Theatre and Dance, UC Davis

"He is committed to teaching students not only about theatre history, but about what theatre can do in the present and in the future."

2017 Laureates

K. Alexa Koenig, School of Law, UC Berkeley (Hasenkamp Award)

"She realizes that cultivating her students' curriculum about human rights issues is the sine qua non of preserving and contributing to the progress of the human rights movement.

Mary Beth Mudgett, Department of Biology, Stanford University

"Instead of passively listening to Dr. Mudgett instruct us on the characteristics of plants , we spent time investigating the properties of different plants at stations carefully designed by Professor Mudgett."

 Jennifer E. Smith, Department of Biology, Mills CollegeJennifer E. Smith, Department of Biology, Mills College

"One of the very special things about studying the sciences at Mills College is that there are so many strong women faculty to look up to, learn from and collaborate with. Dr. Smith is an important member of that group. It was inspiring to have her at the front of the classroom, in the hallways of the science building, and even just around campus walking her dogs."


2016 Laureates

Claude Goldenberg, Department of Education, Stanford University

This is one of (if not the most) outstanding professors I have ever had. Over the course of the 6 months that I knew him, he offered to direct my individual studies in a field that I was passionate about where no classes were currently being offered. He challenged and inspired me to constantly improve my work and my analyses, not for the sake of a grade, but in order to make our work useful for our community. We ended up co-authoring a piece on bilingual education together and publishing it in American Educator. His generosity with his time and willingness to mentor An undergraduate student are things I will never forget.

Robert Goldman, Department of East and South East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

… his passion for the subject, skillful teaching, and the course's interesting content were enough. That was enough to get me excited every morning to wake up and go to class. Very few classes at Berkeley had that effect on me. This man took a fairly dry subject (ancient literature/world religion) and made it really interesting.

He was a huge help to the Berkeley Student Journal of Asian Studies, a student-run academic journal that I led for the past two years. Over just three years, he reviewed and edited 5 of the 17 papers...including my own.

Alessa Johns, Department of English, University of California. Davis

Whenever I offer an opinion in class, I find her challenging my ideas and asking for another example or a broader significance. This direct intercourse of ideas and thoughts is unique to Professor John's teaching style and promotes deeper, critical thinking in her students.


Justin Whittall, Department of Biology, Santa Clara University (Hasenkamp Award)

Justen, however, is truly special among the ranks of teacher.  He expects more of undergraduates, and almost always, they deliver. Especially in upper division courses, he offers students the problems that he is currently mulling over at the beginning of the quarter, and they work through them with him for ten weeks, contextualizing lecture material in scientific practice. My current PhD thesis is an outgrowth of an inquiry I began in one of his courses, So certainly the work he gives undergraduates is in no way “dumbed down.

Early in my time with his lab, we had to take a short walk across campus so Justen could show me where to find some administrative location I needed to be familiar with. As we walked, we passed the old mission wall, some of which is still intact from its original construction. He remarked that iIt was an aspiration of his to take a sample from that wall, so that we could understand what the native grass communities of California looked like when the Spanish missionaries first settled the area.  We could learn so much, he told me, about human history and plant invasions and maybe even building practices.

2015 Laureates

Petra Dierkes-Thrun,Comparative Literature, Stanford University

Petra is certainly one of the most remarkable teachers - I have encountered at Stanford, both academically and personally. In fact, I can think of no one better to nominate for this honor.  Moreover, Petra is on the frontline of transforming the way education is conducted both in the classroom and through digital media. More than any other professor I have worked with in the humanities, Petra embraces new, emerging modes of teaching and communication via social media like Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms. For instance, I know from personal participation and also from regular correspondence with Petra that she has been quite successful designing and implementing digital pedagogy and blended learning in her classes at Stanford, and is doing things literally no other humanities professor is doing right now, namely taking the online medium seriously as a way not only to  package old humanities content in new ways, but to excite students about  learning in and with the public and connecting with the world about literature.  She has also been very active presenting her work in this emerging field at conferences and other universities, to help inspire other traditional humanities teachers to start experimenting and make the literature classroom relevant and exciting for students in new ways.


Emily Gottreich, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Comments: Professor Emily Gottreich is the single most influential teacher with whom I engaged during my college career. She both demanded and inspired excellence in all of her students. Rote memorization was insufficient in her classes, rather, she pushed us to critically think about our texts, make connections across themes and history, and actively participate in our classes.  All of her students knew that we could not float by unnoticed in her classes: she would come readily prepared with intriguing lectures and would include everyone in the class in theoretical discussions that required us to develop our own thoughts. She dealt with difficult and complex world issues, and taught us to ask questions and inquire about the Middle East with curiosity and fervor.
 She also took on additional work to aid student organizations, and was instrumental in developing the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) organization, a student club which focused on education, peace building, and cross-cultural engagement around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Additionally, she helped fundraise for events and even helped initiate the preparatory accredited classes for the OTI summer Middle East delegations.


Margherita Heyer-Caput, Department of French and Italian, University of California, Davis

She is in charge of one of my campus's study abroad programs (the Quarter Abroad program in Florence, Italy). When she came into my Italian 1 class during my sophomore year to talk about this program, I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Professor Heyer-Caput is a native Italian and has a very clear passion for the country, its culture, and its language. Her passion is what inspired me to want to study abroad and learn more about all of these things. My time spent studying abroad in Florence was amazing and incredibly rewarding. I feel like I gained so much from the experience, and I have Professor Heyer-Caput to thank for this. In addition, she also taught an Italian film studies class that I took while I was abroad, a class which I greatly enjoyed and learned a lot from, even though I had no prior knowledge of film studies.


Victoria C. Plaut, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley

I remember taking my first course with Professor Plaut in the fall of 2012. On the first day of class her credentials struck me; she embodied what I could one day be with my own dual-degree in Psychology and Legal Studies. Previously I considered the overlap of the subjects intuitive yet unexplored. Throughout the semester, she slowly uncovered an entire field that was founded on both of my interests. To find the intersection of your passions and academics is a powerful thing.

Professor Plaut’s course left me with several lasting impressions. First, how incredibly smart she was. Her command of the classroom and our interests coupled with her immense knowledge and kind demeanor catapulted the course to the top of my favorites list. Secondly, I began to understand how vulnerable and unaware humans are of our prevailing, conditioned psyche. Never before had I been so acutely aware of the social biases permeating every surrounding institution and my very own mind. Third, I realized how important it was to tailor information to your audience. Professor Plaut uniquely communicated otherwise intimidating empirical findings to an untrained audience so we could understand how this data supported standing Psychological theories and legal rulings. And finally, Professor Plaut was the first professor who challenged us to answer the “so what?” What could we do with these findings? How were they applicable to other students at Cal? What are the best ways to communicate these findings? Can they effectively inform policy decisions? These exercises both challenged and excited me; I was experiencing the critical-thinking aspect of education that Cal prides itself on.

2014 Laureates

Andrius Galisanka, Department of Polticial Science, University of California, Berkeley
The way he teaches political theory is also very distinct. For each theorist, rather than just going over the facts, he really places himself and the class in the place of the theorist's shoes. He taught us how to find the key argument of the theorist, how he came about to that conclusion, and decide for ourselves that theory is plausible or not. He taught us how to argue for and against the theorists' arguments by understanding them first.


Julie Anne Kennedy, Department of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University

Julie pushes Earth Systems students to 1) deepen their passions, and 2) merge their academic and personal interests within community-oriented projects. In her Senior Seminar course, I was able to help a non-profit organization in East Palo Alto build a sustainable business model for the East Palo Alto farmer’s market.

Patricia Simone, Department of Psychology, Santa Clara University

She stands out because of her expertise in the fields of psychology, and in the subfield of gerontology, for her dedication to her students and to her memory research. And for her involvement in the Santa Clara community. She works closely with the Santa Clara Senior Center in a community based learning project having students compile a video for a senior on his or her most important reflections. Dr. Simone was a speaker at our Asilomar Conference in February 2015.


Dari Sylvester, Department of Political Science, University of the Pacific

In my first class with Dr. Sylvester, I could tell that the other students were scared. Not because she was in any way scary, but because she was challenging them to work hard and learn. The class was full of soon to graduate seniors; they all wanted to glide through their last general education requirement (Pacific Seminar 3, a class on philosophy and ethics required for all majors). Dr. Sylvester was not going to let her class slip through, but instead asked them to think critically about their world, like what balance of utilitarian philosophy verses deontological ethics was best .

2013 Laureates

Terri Bimes, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

I am currently wrapping up a year-long research project, which is a senior honors thesis in Political Science. Throughout the project Professor Bimes has been a constant source of guidance and support. I am tremendously proud of the work that I have done—I consider my thesis as the culminating highlight of my undergraduate education—but I could not have done it alone. Professor Bimes was there every step of the way.
J. Mira Kopell, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Mira Kopell is an instructor who is incredibly dedicated to her students. I have had the privilege to take four courses with her including an independent study course in which she had worked tirelessly to aid me in my development as a future film maker. She has inspired me to become a screen writer, and has always encouraged me in my craft. I am deeply indebted to her as an instructor and can honestly say she has changed my life.
Richard Mitchell, Department of Mathematics, University of California, Santa Cruz

Richard Mitchell’s teaching comprised my entire undergraduate calculus education. In his courses we proved everything. We took no assumption for granted. I am extremely lucky and honored to have had Richard Mitchell as a lecturer in mathematics at UC Santa Cruz because he laid in my mind the strongest foundation of basic calculus principles possible. His board presentation was beautiful and his representation of 3D surfaces art.
Patricia Plude, Department of Music, Santa Clara University

I cannot conclude this summary without sharing with you how important her music improvisation class was for my classmates and me. Though outside mycomfort zone, I signed up for Music Improvisation (this was the first time this class was offered). Professor Plude crafted this class with great sensitivity, flexibility and creativity. Each student experienced a transformation during the course of 10 weeks. Though her students were apprehensive at first, she created a judgment-free space in which her students felt comfortable to experiment and play.
Priya Mariana Shimpi, Department of Education, Mills College

What I look for in a teacher/professor is someone who will make me see the world in a different way. It may not be a huge change but every little change contributes to a wider world view. Priya has encouraged me to explore diversity in early childhood education and to take an inquiry stance as an educator. It is because of Priya that I will never stop evaluating and reflecting on my teaching. There is a great deal to be learned from our students and Priya makes sure that her students are poised to be always learning.

2012 Laureates

  Judith Dunbar, Department of English, Santa Clara University
  Kerry A. Enright, School of Education, University of California, Davis
  Cynthia Ostberg, Department of Political Science, University of the Pacific
  Amy Randall, Department of History, Santa Clara University

2011 Laureates

Robin Einhorn, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Ramona Naddaff, Rhetoric Department, University of California, Berkeley

Kim Magowan, English Literature, Mills College, Oakland

Teresa E. Steele, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis

Darren Zook, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
Recipient of a 2006 Teaching Excellence award


2010 Laureates

Judith L. Bishop, Department of Women’s Studies and Religion, Mills College

Kristin Lagatutta, Psychology Department, University of California, Davis

Richard Muller, Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley

Patrick Y. Chuang, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz


2009 Laureates

Kathryn Olmsted, Department of History, UC Davis

Noah Guynn, Department of French and Italian, UC Davis

William James Stover, Department of Political Science, University of Santa Clara


2008 Laureates

Dr. John G. Forte - Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - UC Berkeley

Dr. Arthur Havenner - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics - UC Davis

Dr. Garrison Sposito - College of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management - UC Berkeley

Dr. Elizabeth Tallent - English Department - Stanford


2007 Laureates

Keenly aware of the great worth of learning and of the extraordinary gifts, diligence and amplitude of spirit that mark the best in teaching, the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association takes pleasure in conferring its 2007 Teaching Excellence Awards upon four distinguished teachers:

Professor John Boe, University Writing Program, University of California, Davis

Professor Paul Groth, Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley

Professor Masahiko Minami, Department of Foreign Languages, California State University, San Francisco

Professor Ananya Roy, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley


2006 Laureates

William Parent, Professor of Philosophy, Santa Clara University

Recommended by Ausra Pumpuris: “I enrolled in Dr. Parent’s Informal Logic course during the summer solely because my friends held him in such high esteem as a professor. … Dr. Parent captivated the class, challenging and encouraging his students to re-evaluate their former misuse of speech. …”

Don Price, Professor of History, University of California, Davis

Recommended by Caleb Gilbert: “Don Price is an exceptional teacher. His assignments are interesting and fun to do; the assignments not only teach the material but they encourage students to go the extra mile and learn more. …”

Neil Schore, Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Davis

Recommended by Stephanie M. Stalla: “Before I took Dr. Schore’s class I hated organic chemistry. … Dr. Schore, unlike my previous professors, was able to explain all the material in a simple (but not oversimplified) and effective manner. … you could always tell he wanted everyone to do well in his class; he even re-graded the exams himself.”

David Stronach, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of California, Berkeley

Recommended by Laura Steele: “Of all my professors and advisors at UC Berkeley, Prof. Stronach has provided the most support, both academic and personal. He is a most effective teacher of graduate seminars, in which he manages to be both gentle and firm, both caring and demanding, and above all he interacts with all his graduate students (and indeed, undergraduates, based on what I’ve seen) as colleagues and as peers. ...”

Darren Zook, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Recommended by Cameron Bensonsmith: “Darren Zook is an incredible teacher. He has a gift for careful detailed analysis and a passion for imparting knowledge to his students in such a way that they will find their own forms of charitable good works and humanitarian advocacy, whether it be in their career choices or their extracurricular activities. ...”

2005 Laureates

Jonah Levy, Political Science, UC Berkeley

Armin Rosencranz,
 Human Biology, Stanford

Andrew Workman,
 History, Mills College

2004 Laureates

David W. Johnson, Instructor
Department of Economics
Stanford University

Kristin Luker, Professor
Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program
UC Berkeley

Jody Maxmin, Professor
Department of Art and Art History
Stanford University

Marijane Osborn, Professor
Department of English
UC Davis

Daniel R Palleros, Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochcemistry
UC Santa Cruz

John R. Wallace, Professor
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
UC Berkeley

The awards were conferred at the Annual Dinner on May 2, 2004.

2003 Laureates

Alexander Aiken, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley

Margaret Conkey, Professor of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Scott Gronert, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
San Francisco State University

Caroline M. Kane, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology
University of California, Berkeley

Eve Sweetser, Professor of Linguistics
University of California, Berkeley
The awards were conferred at the Annual Dinner on May 4, 2003.

2002 Laureates

Michelle Fillion, Professor of Music
Mills College

H. Bradley Shaffer, Professor of Evolution and Ecology
University of California, Davis

Alan Taylor, Professor of History
University of California, Davis

Steven Vogel, Associate Professor of Political Science
University of California, Davis
The awards were conferred at the Annual Dinner on May 4, 2002.

2001 Laureates

Keenly aware of the great worth of learning and of the extraordinary gifts, diligence, and amplitude of spirit that mark the best in teaching, the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association takes pleasure in conferring its 2001 Teaching Excellence Awards upon three distinguished teachers:

Oliver Johns, Department of Physics and Astronomy
San Francisco State University

Deborah Nolan, Professor of Statistics
University of California, Berkeley

John Diamond, Professor of Law, Hastings College of the Law and Lecturer at Boalt Hall, School of Law
University of California, Berkeley

The awards were conferred at the Annual Meeting on May 12, 2001

2000 Laureates

This year, the Teaching Excellence Committee, consisting of Leon Fisher (Chairperson), Lawrence Lerner, Ellen Weaver and Madeleine Babin chose four extraordinary teachers:

Marco Conti, Professor, School of Medicine Division of Reproductive Biology, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Stanford University

Anne Middleton, Professor of English University of California, Berkeley

Jonathan Marks, Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology University of California, Berkeley

Manfred Wolf, Professor of English San Francisco State University

The awards were conferred at the Annual Meeting on May 13, 2000

1999 Laureates 

The Teaching Excellence Committee, consisting of Ellen Weaver (Chairperson), Leon Fisher, Lawrence S. Lerner, and Philip Persky chose the following excellent teachers:. Awards were presented at the May 15, 1999 Annual Meeting.

Thomas H. Lee, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Rachelle Waksler, Professor of English, San Francisco State University

Quentin C. Williams, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

1998 Laureates

The Teaching Excellence Committee, consisting of Lawrence Lerner (Chairperson), Leon Fisher and Ellen Weaver chose three extraordinary teachers: 

Martin Covington, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley, 

Cynthia Scheinberg, Assistant Professor of English at Mills College,

Philip Zimbardo, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

The awards were conferred at the Annual Dinner on June 6. 

1997 Laureates

In June of 1997, Teaching Excellence Awards went to

Professor David Hollinger (History) at UC Berkeley

Professor Cheri Pies (Public Health) at UC Berkeley. Professor Pies had been a 1992 Scholarship winner as well. 

Professor Brinda Mehta (Foreign Languages and Literature) at Mills College.

1996 Laureates

Richard J. Hoffman, History, San Francisco State

H. Mack Horton, East Asian Languages, UC Berkeley

Timothy J. Lukes, Political Science, Santa Clara

Raouel Rivera Pinderhughes, Urban Studies, San Francisco State

1995 Laureates

Barbara T. Christian, African American Studies, UC Berkeley

Deborah M. Gordon, Biological Sciences, Stanford

David Matsumoto, Psychology, San Francisco State

Elaine C. Tennant, German, UC Berkeley

1994 Laureates

Andrew E. Barshay, History, UC Berkeley

Peter Evans, Sociology, UC Berkeley

Donald M. Friedman, English, UC Berkeley

William KMuir, Political Science, UC Berkeley

Julio Ramos, Spanish, UC Berkeley

1993 Laureates

Margaret Conkey, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

John Heath, Classics, Santa Clara

Cynthia Polecritti, History, UC Santa Cruz

Susan Schweik, English, UC Berkeley

1992 Laureates

Louise George Clubb, Italian and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

Mary-Ann Lutzker, Asian Art History, Mills

Susan Mann, History, UC Davis

Leo Ortiz, Biology, UC Santa Cruz

1991 Laureates

Philip C. Hanawalt, Biological Sciences, Stanford

Jody Maxmin, Art and Classics, Stanford

1990 Laureates

James G. Propp, Mathematics, UC Berkeley

Erich Gruen, Roman History, UC Berkeley

Edith Yang, Chinese and Japanese, San Francisco State

Katherine Milton, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

1989 Laureates

Daniel Heartz, Music, UC Berkeley

Paul G. Fitzgerald, Human Anatomy, UC Davis

Marilyn R. Chandler, English, Mills

Quick links

Follow our activities

© Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software