College holds reception for Quantrell and Booth award recipients

The College held a reception on Thursday, May 24 for the nine recipients of the 2012 Quantrell Awards and Booth Prizes, recognizing excellence in teaching by full-time faculty members and by graduate students.

The annual College Teaching Awards reception included congratulatory remarks by John W. Boyer, dean of the College and the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History. Boyer noted that from the University’s earliest roots, excellence in teaching was viewed as a “moral responsibility,” as well as “a way to make sure that faculty remained fresh and current in their own work.”

At the reception, five faculty members were announced as winners of the 2012 Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The Quantrell Awards, considered to be the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching, are treasured by faculty members at the University. Past winners often have considered the award to be among their most significant professional accomplishments. Established in 1938, the awards are based on letters of nomination from College students.

The recipients of the 2012 Quantrell Awards are:

Cathy Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Professor in Political Science and the College

Gregory Engel, Associate Professor in Chemistry and the College

Megan McNulty, Senior Lecturer, Biological Sciences Collegiate Division

Jason Merchant, Professor in Linguistics and the College

Howard Nusbaum, Professor in Psychology and the College

Also honored at the reception were the four recipients of the 2012 Wayne C. Booth Graduate Student Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. Established in 1991, the Booth Prizes recognize contributions to undergraduate teaching by graduate students, who are nominated by College students and faculty members.

The recipients of the 2012 Booth Prizes are:

Patrick Barry, Law School

Atiya Khan, Department of History

Erin Mowers, Pritzker School of Medicine

Robin Walters, Department of Mathematics

At the celebration, Boyer also paid tribute to two esteemed Quantrell winners who died in the last year — Herman Sinaiko and Bert Cohler. Through their historic contributions to teaching in the College, Sinaiko and Cohler helped create and sustain the “remarkably rich and demanding discourse about ideas” that defines the experience of students and teachers in the College, Boyer said.

“In acknowledging the importance of distinguished teaching, these prizes help to protect the University as a place of vibrant learning and meritorious excellence,” Boyer said. “Out of all of our individual practices of creative teaching, out of all of our individual acts of generous counsel and mentorship, and out of our individual dedications to the higher learning as a legitimate and valuable way of living human life has come a strong, resolute and unique place, a place that is the model of university life in the United States. Ernest Quantrell wished to protect this special culture in 1938, and it is essential that we continue to do so in our time as well.”