Ed Erikson and Alix Olson win Coveted Distinguished Teaching Award
It was a feat that nobody could remember ever happening in the history of the UMass Distinguished Teaching Awards: for the first time, the two winners of the award came from the same department...the Department of Political Science. Political Science PhD students Alix Olson and Ed Erikson were selected from a large pool of excellent graduate students on campus as this year's winners of the coveted Distinguished Teaching Award. It is the highest award bestowed for teaching on the UMass campus.
The Graduate School held a luncheon in their honor on Thursday at an event attended by peers, mentors, and campus dignataries. Deans John McCarthy (Graduate School) and Robert Feldman (SBS) lauded the achievements of these talented educators. But the highlight of the event was when Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, read aloud from some of the letters submitted by students on behalf of Olson and Erikson. The letters provided a poignant picture of what makes Olson and Erikson such valuable assets to the department and the university: they care deeply about their students and refuse to let them quit or fade quietly into the background.
In accepting the awards, both Olson and Erikson recognized Political Science faculty who have served as important mentors as they learned how to become such wonderful educators. In particular, both students recognized Professors Barbara Cruikshank, John Hird, and Tatishe Nteta as having made significant impressions on them since they first arrived at UMass. Olson and Erikson will also be honored for this achievement during graduation ceremonies in May.