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Casteen taps faculty for Harrison Awards

In a yearly attempt to promote excellence in teaching, the University bestowed its annual Harrison Teaching Awards on eight outstanding faculty members.

The awards first were given out three years ago to reward exceptional professors who demonstrate dedication, creativity and leadership in their classroom endeavors.

Members of the Provost's Promotion and Tenure Committee, department chairmen and students were eligible to nominate award recipients. University vice presidents, including Provost Peter W. Low, reviewed this year's nominations before they were sent to President John T. Casteen III.

Casteen then selected and bestowed the awards upon the recipients. This year four of the Harrison Award recipients received a stipend of $10,000.

Four other faculty members shared one award and each received a $5,000 stipend.

Assoc. Religious Studies Prof. Heather Warren received the Harrison Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Darden School Prof. Robert Bruner was awarded the Harrison Award for Overall Teaching Excellence.

Health Evaluation Sciences Prof. James Abbot was honored with the Harrison Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in Health Systems.

Dr. Brian Wispelwey, associate medicine-infectious diseases professor, won the Harrison Award for Overall Teaching Excellence in the Health System.

The Harrison Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching was shared by four faculty members: Assoc. Architecture Prof. Daniel Bluestone, Architecture Prof. Robin Dripps, Architecture Prof. Reuben Rainey and Urban Planning Prof. Daphne Spain.

Low said the committee faced difficult choices when making its decisions.

"These selections are always hard," he said. "We have many great teachers at the University."

He added that these awards "are an important part of the efforts we make to emphasize quality teaching at the University. Recognition of great teaching is one way to encourage its continuation."

Numerous recommendations nominated scores of faculty members this year.

Darden School Dean Edward A. Snyder nominated Bruner and described him as "a person that personifies the values that distinguish Darden. He is legendary for developing a love of finance and learning and may be one of the best finance educators in the world."

Bluestone, Dripps, Rainey and Daphne shared their award for their efforts in a team-taught Architecture course, ARCH 600, "Quest for Order."

Architecture Dean Karen Van Lengen described this program in her nomination letter as "an ambitious project, [where] success is a result of the depth of research and scholarship four faculty members take into the classroom."

Van Lengen said in the nomination that the four professors plan to donate their awards back to the Architecture School to provide scholarships for entering graduate students.

Abbot said when he received his award he was "completely surprised. I am so overwhelmed by this award."

He said there are many outstanding faculty members at the University.

"There are so many good teachers at U.Va. and to be considered among them is a real honor," he added. "I know I'm talking right now but I am speechless.

"Teaching is a fulfilling experience in itself but having something like this happen to you is so meaningful it blows you away," Abbot said.

University graduate David A. Harrison provided the funding for this particular award program three years ago.

Last year, 30 faculty advisors were recognized with a Harrison Award and each received a $3,000 grant.


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