Posted: April 27, 2007
Faculty excellence was honored on April 26 at Mount Holyoke's Celebration of Faculty Accomplishments in Pratt Hall's McCulloch Auditorium. This ceremony, the eighth annual, honors both teaching and scholarships with prizes funded by gifts from members of the board of trustees. The recipients of this year's Mount Holyoke College Faculty Prize for Teaching were Harriet Pollatsek, Julia and Sarah Ann Adams Professor of Mathematics, and Professor of Politics Christopher Pyle. The Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Prize for Scholarship was awarded to Bettina Bergmann, Helen Phillips Herzig '49 Professor of Art History, and Professor of Russian Studies Stephen Jones. (From left: Joanne V. Creighton, Bettina Bergmann, Stephen Jones, Harriet Pollatsek, Donal O'Shea, and Christopher Pyle)
In her welcoming remarks, President Joanne V. Creighton noted that the trustees wanted to make clear "in a tangible way the importance of faculty teaching and research to this institution's academic excellence." Former trustee Janet Hickey Tague '66 endowed the scholarship prize in honor of Meribeth E. Cameron, professor emeritus of history and former acting president and academic dean of the College. The trustee donor of the teaching prize wishes to remain anonymous. Dean of Faculty Donal O'Shea then presented the awards, each of which carries with it a citation and a check for $3,000.
Pollatsek, who specializes in finite groups and finite geometries, was hailed as "that rarest of teachers who excels in virtually every pedagogy invented: lecturing, small groups, laboratory guidance, mentoring." In accepting the award, she spoke about the many satisfactions and challenges in her teaching: "I love pushing a talented student to see how far she can go…. I love struggling alongside a student to understand mathematics that is new to both of us. I love changing the mind of the student who hates mathematics and is sure she can't do it."
Pyle, the other recipient of the prize for teaching, was honored not just for his provocative teaching in classes on constitutional law and American political thought but also for teaching that "transcends the confines of the College and whose very purposeful engagement with the world serves as a model for our students and all of us." In response, Pyle presented a pictorial tour of the classes he has taught in Northern Ireland, at Plimoth Plantation Village, and on the high seas aboard the HMS Bounty and the Picton Castle.
Bergmann, one recipient of the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Prize for Scholarship, was described as "both a bold and imaginative thinker as well as a painstaking and careful scholar." An expert on ancient Greek and Roman art, Bergmann spoke about her interest in the "points of tension between the present and the past." Her presentation included images of her work at the site of the ancient Roman city of Zeugma in Turkey. There, she collaborated with scholars rushing to salvage one of the world's richest collections of Roman mosaics before they were lost to the waters of a newly constructed dam.
Jones, an expert on post-communist societies in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, was the other recipient of the prize for scholarship. In accepting the award, Jones wondered how it was that "stepping into a secondhand bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London in 1976 and buying a book about twelfth century Georgian knights--how did that entirely shape my life? How could a medieval story have such tenacity?" He added, "But it was that book and that bookshop that brought me by strange and bizarre paths to this auditorium today."
Read the Citations:
Bettina Bergmann- Faculty Profile
Stephen Jones- Faculty Profile
Harriet Pollatsek- Faculty Profile
Christopher Pyle- Faculty Profile