Faculty Honored for Teaching and Scholarship

Posted: May 1, 2006

On April 27, the Mount Holyoke community gathered with President Joanne V. Creighton and Donal O'Shea, dean of faculty, for the College's seventh annual celebration of faculty accomplishments. Four professors were recognized for their distinguished teaching and scholarship during the ceremony in McCulloch Auditorium, which also honored the faculty collectively. "I have many interactions with students who all invariably say that they have 'awesome' professors. We are deeply appreciative of your service," Creighton said in her opening remarks.

This year's recipients of the Mount Holyoke College Faculty Prize for Teaching were Carolyn Collette '67, Professor of English Language and Literature on the Alumnae Fund and chair of medieval studies, and Vincent Ferraro, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics and chair of international relations. Janice Hudgings, associate professor of physics, and Donald Weber, Lucia, Ruth and Elizabeth MacGregor Professor and chair of English, both received the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Prize for Scholarship.

Collette, whose citation hailed her "uncanny ability to draw out student voices," spoke of her good fortune "to come to Mount Holyoke at the same time as a group of young professors whose passion was ideas and whose mission was to create classrooms where ideas were advanced, shared, and honed through discussion and debate." She also praised Mount Holyoke's "exceptional students who are interested and interesting, open, thoughtful, and above all creatively engaged in the texts we read together. I know I speak for all of us who teach here when I say I have been fortunate to have learned a great deal from my classes at Mount Holyoke."

Ferraro, who was saluted as a "supremely wise teacher … the best there is at what he does," acknowledged feeling "a little embarrassed" to receive a teaching award "because teaching is what I live for." He noted the exhilaration of teaching, adding, "It's absolutely a delight to see the look of serenity on a student's face as she begins to believe that she can understand the material."

Hudgings, a recipient of the Cameron scholarship prize, was commended for her research with lasers as well as for her numerous publications--many coauthored with students--and prestigious grants. In accepting the award, she acknowledged the privilege of working among colleagues with such "rich and varied intellectual lives." Then, humorously noting "it's not a physics lecture without demos and a PowerPoint," Hudgings gave a presentation about her research on photonic integrated circuits and the rewards of collaborating with MHC students.

Weber, the other recipient of the Cameron prize, was hailed as a scholar and an essayist and "one of the leading specialists on Jewish-American popular culture." Weber quipped that usually when he gets such a flattering introduction, he often asks the speaker to "please call my mother in Florida. This time you don't have to--she's sitting in the third row." Weber spoke about the overarching themes of his work, including the theme of Jewish generations and "my own generation location as a Jewish son." During his remarks, Weber showed a clip of the 1925 silent film His People, "a charged scene of filial leave-taking on Delancey Street … to give a sense of the emotional valences--the affective resonances--at stake for me."

The teaching and scholarship awards, which were presented by O'Shea, were made possible by gifts from members of the MHC board of trustees. The teaching award was funded by an anonymous donor. The scholarship award was endowed by former trustee Janet Hickey Tague '66 in honor of Meribeth E. Cameron, a professor of history from 1948 to 1970 who also served as academic dean, dean of faculty, and on a number of occasions, as acting president of the College. The recipients were selected through a nomination and review process coordinated by the Faculty Awards Committee, composed of O'Shea; Christopher Benfey, Mellon Professor of English; Michael Robinson, professor of economics; Andrew Lass, professor of anthropology; and professor emeritus Diana Stein.

Related Links:

Carolyn Collette: Faculty Prize for Teaching Citation

Vincent Ferraro: Faculty Prize for Teaching Citation

Janice Hudgings: Faculty Prize for Scholarship Citation

Donald Weber: Faculty Prize for Scholarship Citation