Faculty celebrated with teaching and mentoring awards

Faculty teaching award winners

From top left, clockwise: Grace Han, Keith Plaster, Jill Greenlee, Thomas Fai, Gregory Childs and Sarah Lamb.

Six Brandeis faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have been recognized for their excellence in the classroom with 2022 teaching, mentoring and service awards.

Students, faculty and alumni annually nominate faculty members who have impacted their lives for the five awards: The Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring; the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching; the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching; the Dean’s Mentoring Award; and the School of Arts and Sciences Faculty Service Award.

The awards are overseen by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences. Dorothy Hodgson, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Wendy Cadge, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, presented the awards at a faculty meeting in April.

The following faculty members were honored:

Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Keith Plaster, senior lecturer in linguistics

Plaster's fields of expertise include theoretical phonology, historical linguistics, Indo-European linguistics, forensic linguistics, morphology, and phonetics. Now a senior lecturer in Linguistics, he has been with Brandeis since August 2013.  He teaches Introduction to Linguistics, Phonetics, Phonological Theory, Historical Linguistics and Language Change, and Language Acquisition and Development.

Students praised Keith for his well-organized and informational lectures, his availability, his ability to make students feel seen, even in large classes, and his patience with accommodating student questions. His fellow faculty members commented on his energy and enthusiasm as both linguist and teacher.

What students say about Plaster:

"Not only were all of his courses interesting in content, he was at all times committed to improving the learning experience for his students — he would shift the room setup in order to encourage discussion, was careful to encourage participation, and made sure each student understood the content. Professor Plaster's office hours were also the most welcoming I participated in, and constantly packed."

"Beyond just simply teaching the content, he always made it his mission to get to know his students, connect with them, and make them feel welcomed in the small Brandeis Linguistics program community."

"He is not only effective at leading a classroom, but the work he assigns is challenging and engaging. In each class I have taken, I have found it easy to apply the material to my everyday life because he has structured his courses in such a way that engages the students with the material."

Michael L. Walzer '56 Award for Teaching: Gregory Childs, assistant professor of history

Childs' fields of expertise include race and race formation, colonialism and slavery, Latin American and the Caribbean, history of psychiatry, graffiti and hip-hop studies. He is the recipient of a 2018-19 American Antiquarian Society – National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a 2017 Teaching Innovation Grant from Brandeis, and he served as a 2018 Conference Committee Chair for the African American Intellectual History Society.

At Brandeis, he teaches courses on Latin American and Caribbean history, the history of graffiti, historicizing the Black radical tradition, and twentieth century revolutions in the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching is presented to a tenure-track faculty member who combines superlative scholarship with inspired teaching.

What students say about Childs:

“Professor Childs has communicated to me that he has two jobs, the first is to fulfill the obligations of his career as a professor but the second, and dearest to him, is to be a support to students especially around topics and issues that academia does not provide us with many spaces to heal through such as the fragility of Black life. Professor Childs is an excellent, engaging, and interactive professor in the classroom and looks at history through a lens of social justice that few history books look through.”

“Collegiate education and traditional classroom settings routinely allows marginalized and subordinated groups of people to slip through the cracks of academia. Professor Childs disrupts this idea of a traditional classroom via creative teaching styles that demand his students to be the best version of ourselves daily and empowering us to be co-facilitators of our curriculum and learning.”

“Professor Childs truly brings his artistry into his teaching. He lectures almost lyrically - engaging his students, inciting their critical thinking, and chronicling the history of graffiti in a clear and concise way.”

Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer '69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring: Jill Greenlee, associate professor of politics

Greenlee's research investigates the political attitudes and behaviors of individuals and gender in American politics. At Brandeis, she teaches courses on American politics, women and politics, and political behavior.

The Neubauer Prize is awarded to an individual involved in the co-curricular and extracurricular life of campus who has also made a significant impact on students' lives as an exceptional teacher, mentor, advisor and friend.

 What students say about Greenlee:

“As a student who began at Brandeis in a virtual format, it has been difficult to feel like I can bond or connect with my teachers. During our American Congress class, Prof. Greenlee made a visible effort to get to know us all by using an attendance sheet with our faces and names to familiarize herself with us.”

“Professor Greenlee has grown to feel like a mentor to me who has supported and advocated for my success. She constantly goes above and beyond to connect students to resources, like emailing me about a prestigious research program to apply for.”

“As a student of color from a low-income background, I have often felt out of place in Politics classes. Prof. Greenlee instilled a newfound confidence in my ability and contribution to these spaces, and this nomination is an effort to continue thanking her for having such a profound impact on my college career.”

Faculty Service Award: Sarah Lamb, professor of anthropology; women's, gender, and sexuality studies; and Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanistic Social Sciences

A cultural anthropologist, Lamb's research interests include the anthropology of aging, gender and sexuality, personhood and subjectivity, medical anthropology, religion, ethnographic writing, and South Asia.

The School of Arts and Sciences Faculty Service Award recognizes outstanding service contributions to departments, programs and the university.

Lamb has served on many committees and held numerous service duties during her time at Brandeis, including: Chair of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies during its transition to full departmental status; Women's Studies Research Center Strategic Planning Committee; Faculty Representative to the WGS National Board; Graduate Student Admissions Committee for Anthropology; Undergraduate Advising Head for Anthropology; Asian American Pacific Islander Studies Faculty Committee; South Asian Studies Faculty Committee; and the Teaching Innovation Grants Committee.

Her colleagues who nominated her remarked that Lamb has “served all major roles in the Anthropology Department, and even when she does not occupy an official position offers guidance and support to those who do.” As a champion of undergraduates, she is excited to teach them and represent our discipline to the majors and minors she advises.” Finally, they note her important contributions outside of the department where she “leads…with kindness, wisdom, and a deep understanding of what makes Brandeis special for our students and faculty.”

Dean’s Mentoring Awards

In the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Thomas Fai, assistant professor of mathematics, and Grace Han, assistant professor of chemistry were presented with the Dean’s Mentoring Award, which goes to a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding ability as a mentor. in the supervision of students.

Read more: Two Faculty Members in the Sciences Receive 2022 Dean’s Mentoring Award

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