A&S Professors Receive 2011 UC Faculty Awards

Three professors in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences were honored May 19 as part of the University of Cincinnati 2011 Faculty Awards Celebration. The awards celebrate the best in teaching, research, service and entrepreneurship.

Mrs. A.B. “Dolly” Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching
Colleen McTague

Assistant Professor, Geography

Cincinnati is a laboratory of discovery for the students in McTague’s classes. Teaching courses in urban geography, Cincinnati and the Tri-State and political geography, McTague makes it a point to not rely on PowerPoint when her students are studying topics in UC’s backyard.

Whether it’s a field trip to Carew Tower, Cincinnati’s subways and recycling facilities or downtown homeless shelters, she brings geography to life for her students—and with rave reviews. Students enroll in multiple courses taught by McTague and many credit her with their decision to major in geography. Their praise comes not from an easy course load, but from McTague’s ability to push students to think critically.

She holds her students accountable by remembering all of their names and encouraging class participation. As a recent student said: “She makes a conscious effort to get to know her students; she learns everyone’s name, their major, their interests, and then makes use of this information to keep discussions engaging and personally relevant for the whole class.” Without McTague’s help tracking down scholarships, advising research projects, or even just chatting after class, multiple students agreed: earning a college degree may have never been possible.

George Rieveschl Jr. Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works

Adrian L. Parr

Associate Professor, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies/School of Architecture & Interior Design

Since earning her PhD a mere nine years ago, Parr has worked tirelessly to turn a critical eye on everything from Leonardo Da Vinci and French philosopher Gilles Deleuze to corporations and the environment. With a background in social and political philosophy and ethics, Parr’s research stands at the intersection of social and political theory, critical theory, cultural studies, feminist theory and critical art theory.

She uses her theoretical foundation and passion for change to fuel her research in architecture and activism. In less than a decade, she has written and edited six books (another forthcoming) including “Deleuze and Memorial Culture,” “Hijacking Sustainability” and “Exploring the Work of Leonardo da Vinci within the Context of Contemporary Philosophical Thought and Art.”

She has also written for peer-reviewed publications on a number of topics, including Abu Ghraib, the Holocaust and national security. An internationally acclaimed scholar, Parr’s research is as well received as it is prolific. She has earned clamoring reviews for “Hijacking Sustainability,” a book that uncovers the manipulation of sustainability by corporations for profit, and her edited anthology “The Deleuze Dictionary” appears on the recommended reading list for graduate courses in a number of disciplines.

Innovative Uses of Technology in Teaching Award
Leigh M. Smith

Professor, Physics

As distance-learning courses become the norm across universities, science and engineering classes have lagged behind due to the inherent hands-on nature of the courses. But with innovative and organized technologies already available to UC faculty, Smith has created a distance-learning environment that not only brings the virtual classroom to life, but with success rates mirroring those of in-person classes.

Using podcasts, a web-based math tutorial system, Just-in-Time Teaching questions, personal response clickers, and podcasted mini-lectures and demonstrations, Smith dedicates a great deal of energy organizing and synchronizing technology to better engage both in-class and distance-learning students. By uploading podcasts of his physics demonstrations, Smith gives students the opportunity to revisit class discussion from home. Personal response clickers help gauge understanding of a topic instantly from the lecture hall.

Smith also incorporates ALEKS, a web-based tutorial to help students struggling with math, as well as Just-in-Time Teaching—online questions due the night before a lecture to make students more accountable for reading assignments. These tools have proven to help students better understand the subjects of introductory physics, and have decreased withdrawal and failure rates. Such successes indicate the bright potential for integration of technologies in the classroom.

For the full list of 2011 honorees, visit the UC Magazine website.

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