Press Release

Professors ace teaching test

| 22 April 2009

Five University of California, Berkeley, professors have been chosen by their department colleagues and students to receive a 2009 Distinguished Teaching Award, the campus's most prestigious honor for superlative instruction.

The recipients include Maximilian Auffhammer, an assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics and of international and area studies; Mitchell Breitwieser, a professor of English; Matthew Francis, an associate professor of chemistry; Goodwin Liu, a professor of law and associate dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law; and Andrew Stewart, a professor of classics, Greek Studies and the history of art.

The awards will be presented during ceremonies at 5 p.m. today (Wednesday, April 22) at the Zellerbach Playhouse on campus.

The award is bestowed annually by the UC Berkeley division of the Academic Senate's Committee on Teaching, which is comprised of faculty members and students. It was instituted in 1959, and only 232 professors have received the award to date, including this year's winners.

"The award is important because teaching is so important," said Steve Tollefson, director of UC Berkeley's Office of Educational Development. In the midst of frequent announcements about groundbreaking research and the establishment of new programs and centers to explore critical issues of the day, he said the Distinguished Teaching Award gives teaching its much-deserved place in the headlines as well.

As part of the screening process, committee members read at least two years' worth of each award candidate's student evaluations, which can number into the thousands, and evaluate his or her teaching philosophy and course materials. The committee also observes award nominees at work, as they engage students in learning and inspire them to new levels of achievement.