Eight professors win 2023 Distinguished Teaching Awards

In a special surprise delivered straight to their classrooms, eight professors learned they won a 2023 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Representatives from the Office of the Provost dropped in to share the exciting news at the end of spring term and give the award-winning teachers a crystal or myrtle-wood apple paperweight. 

The Distinguished Teaching Awards recognize exceptional teaching that is inclusive, engaged and research-informed. This year’s winners are Jocelyn Hollander, Faith Barter, Alex Zunterstein, Kirby Brown, Robin Hopkins, Tannaz Farsi, Patricia Rodley and Michael Moffitt. 

Hollander, who has been with the university for 26 years, received the Herman Faculty Achievement Award. The sociology professor’s peers and students highlighted her ability to inspire engagement in her classes. Hollander challenges students to reach higher, offering support on the way to success, nominators said. Transparency is also championed in her courses, with materials that have clear learning objectives. Hollander will receive an award of $2,000 and a salary increase. 

This year’s Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching was awarded to Barter, assistant professor of English. Barter, whose focus is 19th century African American literature and legal history, has developed 10 new classes since joining the university in 2018. Students shared how much they valued Barter’s strong communication skills and the quality of the content in her classes. Nominators said she encourages students to look at historic texts through a modern lens and centers the voices of people of color in the classroom. Barter will also receive a $2,000 award and a salary increase. 

Zunterstein received the Herman Award for Outstanding Online Education, which recognizes innovative and creative teaching in online and hybrid classes. The Spanish instructor has been a faculty member at the university for 19 years. He serves as assistant department head in romance languages and coordinates the Spanish Heritage Language Program. Students have appreciated his inclusive teaching practices, which allow for engagement opportunities even in the online sphere. One faculty member said Zunterstein "is closely watching the successes and areas for improvement each term and making adjustments based on the level and interests of his students.” Zunterstein will receive a $5,000 award. Kirby Brown, Robin Hopkins, Tannaz Farsi, Patricia Rodley, and Michael Moffitt. Brown, Hopkins, Farsi, Rodley and Moffitt  were selected for a Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy. The award celebrates outstanding achievement and expertise in a specific area of teaching. The winners each receive a $5,000 award. 

Brown, an associate professor of English, has been with the university since 2011. Nominators said he operates with a “pedagogy of discomfort,” encouraging students to embrace the unfamiliar. 

“His goal of exposing students to Indigenous communities, histories and cultural practice in his teaching, alongside his holistic and committed approach to community building among Native students, has been an enormous asset to UO’s mission to promote inclusive teaching,” wrote Harry Wonham, divisional associate dean for humanities. 

Hopkins is a “superstar” in the human physiology department, according to department head Andy Kurduna. She has been teaching at the UO for nearly a decade. Kurduna added that her leadership and generosity have bolstered the quality of teaching across the curriculum. 

“Robin Hopkins is a utility player on the Human Physiology teaching team, except she happens to be superlatively good at every position,” divisional dean Hal Sadofsky wrote. 

Equity and inclusion are key to Farsi’s teaching in the College of Design. The art professor joined the university in 2007 and has had a significant impact on her department, according to her nominators. She emphasizes exploring decolonization and feminism for her students in relevant coursework.  

“This type of hands-on, multifaceted, real-world approach was exactly what I needed… I hope this class continues, it was a stellar experience, thank you!” one student wrote. 

Rodley, who is an instructor in theater arts, has made significant efforts toward removing barriers to learning. Nominators said she reviewed program requirements and recommended changes to improve enrollment and diversity. Each year, Rodley directs at least one play and helps students with dialect coaching during the production season. She has been with the university eight years. 

Moffitt, a law professor, has taught at UO since 2001. He is faculty-in-residence in the Clark Honors College, teaching students in various majors. Starting in 2021, he has developed and launched a special course that allows students to tackle a real-world problem: locating the burial site of five Cayuse tribal members who were executed in 1850. The search is part of a larger reconciliation process with the tribe. 

"To be recognized for this is humbling, and at some level, misplaced,” Moffitt said. “The tribe, my students, my dean, my faculty colleagues, the community members who have lent their energies to the search, they are the ones who have made this journey possible.” 

By Chelsea Hunt, Office of the Provost