Campus News - January 28, 2002

Faculty honored for teaching excellence

Three UNM faculty and two teaching assistants are recipients of the Gunter Starkey Awards for Teaching Excellence awarded by the UNM College of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty honorees Associate Professor of Sociology Paul Steele, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Jane Selverstone and Assistant Professor of Economics Melissa Binder each received a stipend of $2,000. Teaching assistants Shari Evans, Dept. of English; and Kathryn Hovey, Dept. of Sociology were also honored, and each received $1,500 stipends.

The awards, in their fourth year, recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the college’s teaching mission through the quality, breadth and impact of their teaching. The awards are made possible through a private contribution from the Gunter Starkey estate. A committee of former winners selected the recipients from a field of 16 qualified candidates.

“These awards emphasize the key role of teaching in all disciplines across the college,” said Wanda Martin, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean. “We’re very proud of these award winners, who are not only effective and inspiring teachers in their own classrooms, but who also mentor others in the arts of teaching. Additionally, each of these individuals has contributed to the development of strong curriculum in his or her discipline.”

Paul Steele has been a UNM faculty member since 1979. He examines how society works, particularly in the areas of crime and justice, substance abuse and mental illness, family life and personal development. Steele brings his life experience to the classroom, for example, reflecting on his research about the 1980 Santa Fe prison riot and his service as a witness to the recent Terry Clark execution. Steele helped to develop instructional programs in criminal justice at several UNM campuses and is particularly proud of the significant number of interns placed in field settings throughout the region.

Jane Selverstone joined UNM’s faculty in 1997. While conducting a vigorous research program in metamorphic geology and tectonics, Selverstone taught at all levels of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department’s curriculum. Working with first-year students in general education courses, she emphasizes the role of geologic processes in everyday life and the value of clear and logical thinking. For majors and graduate students, Selverstone is also a mentor, helping students learn the skills of scientific work in the classroom, the lab and field. Her numerous publications since 1997 have included more than 30 student co-authors.

Melissa Binder has taught in UNM’s Economics Department since 1995. She teaches general education courses and specialized courses for economics majors. She strives to engage students in active, hands-on learning to help them understand economic analysis as an approach to thinking about how the world works. Students in her classes read and discuss challenging texts, but they also play games, solve puzzles, gather and analyze data and conduct original research. To support student research, Binder secured a grant to install a statistical software package in the classroom and develop curriculum for it.

Shari Evans is a doctoral student in English literature, currently at work on her dissertation, “Women Writing Home: The Politics and Poetics of Home and Exile.” She earned her master’s at UNM in 1998 and has taught in the English Department for six years. In 2001, she collaborated with colleague Mary Rooks to develop a course that resulted in a national teaching award sponsored by the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. She has been persistently and productively involved in the ever-developing curriculum of freshman English.

Kate Hovey, Sociology, has taught at UNM since 1995 and is nearing completion on her Ph. D. on the community of Madrid, NM, — its change from a coal-mining ghost town into tourist destination and prospects for its future. She teaches across the department’s range of courses learning new material as needed. She is developing courses for her ITV presentations, which helped her and the department to address the needs of students in remote locations. She is committed to making sure all students feel fully included in class discussions and takes particular pleasure in the success of those who overcome fears and obstacles to pursue their studies.

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