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CLAS Honors Top Teachers and Advisors

This article was originally published in the March 2005 issue of CLASnotes.

The college has presented 11 teaching and advising awards for 2004–2005, which recognize excellence, innovation and effectiveness in either teaching or advising. Nominations were collected from students, faculty, department chairs and administrators. Three of the professors have been chosen to compete for the UF-wide awards, which will be announced in April. CLAS Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Allan Burns was involved in the selection process and says CLAS faculty often exhibit the seamless mix between scholarship, research and teaching. “Each of our college winners has shown that good teaching goes beyond the classroom. All of the CLAS teachers and advisors of the year illustrate that education in the college is an art and a science.”

Sharon AustinSharon Austin, an associate professor of political science, received an advising award and will be considered for the UF Advisor of the Year Award. She has taught at UF since 2000 and currently serves as a faculty advisor for the political science department, advising more than 100 undergraduates each year. She also is the advisor for the Black Political Science Association and the McNair Scholars and Gatorlaunch programs. “Professors must understand that we are role models whether we want to be or not,” writes Austin in her application. “This does not mean that we have to be perfect, but we are in the position to shape the careers and lives of our students and should take these responsibilities very seriously.” Last year, Austin arranged a trip for 11 students to visit the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, where they met with members of Congress, served on panels and participated in a job and internship fair.

Sara Mock, a pre-law advisor from the Academic Advising Center, is the college’s other advisor of the year. She joined the AAC in 2003 after three years as assistant director for experiential education at UF’s Career Resource Center.

Walter JuddBotany Professor Walter Judd and Assistant Professor of History Jessica Harland-Jacobs are nominees for the university-wide Teacher of the Year Awards. Judd has served as the coordinator of the biological sciences program since 2002 and has taught at UF since 1978. He was a 2001 CLAS Term Professor and received a 1997 CLAS Teacher of the Year Award. Judd has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Practical Plant Taxonomy; Tropical Botany; Cells, Organisms, & Genetics; Evolution, Ecology, & Behavior; and Principles of Biological Systematics. “Teaching is the core function of our university,” writes Judd. “It goes without saying that patience and setting aside adequate time are essential to good teaching.”

Jessica Harland-JacobsHarland-Jacobs has taught at UF since 2000 and serves as the undergraduate coordinator for the history department. Her courses have ranged from Modern Britain and The History of the British Empire to British Imperialism & Culture and Atlantic Exchanges. She recently received the Department of History’s Walensky Teaching Award for her effective teaching and mentoring of graduate students. “I love to hear students tell me that my classes are unlike other history classes they have taken,” writes Harland-Jacobs. “I do think that learning about history and learning to think historically requires more than listening to lectures, taking exams and writing papers.”

Other CLAS Teachers of the Year include: Marsha Bryant, English; Susan deFrance, anthropology; Michael Heckenberger, anthropology; Masangu Matondo, African and Asian languages and literatures; Theral Moore, mathematics; Jane Southworth, geography; and Martin Vala, chemistry.

—Allyson A. Beutke

Photos:
Jane Dominguez

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