The Catholic University of America

Nov. 12, 2010

Provost Recognizes Professors with Top Teaching Awards

From left, President John Garvey, Rev. Frank Matera, Claudia Bornholdt, Scott Mathews and Provost James Brennan  
Three Catholic University professors have been named 2010 Faculty Award winners in honor of their creativity, innovation and teaching effectiveness.
During a Nov. 10 ceremony before dozens of faculty and staff members at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, Provost James Brennan recognized the following professors, who were chosen by a committee of faculty from among 17 professors nominated by their schools:
·         Rev. Frank Matera, professor of New Testament and the Andrews-Kelly-Ryan Professor of Biblical Studies
·         Claudia Bornholdt, associate professor of German
·         Scott Mathews, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science
In his introduction, Brennan noted that the three professors are among the best at Catholic University. “It has been said that ‘When one teaches, two learn.’ We are fortunate indeed to be allowed to witness the excitement of those moments of insight,” he said.
After the professors received their awards, President John Garvey reminded the audience that their excellence transcended the classroom. “There is a canard in the university system that some people are teachers and others are scholars. In fact, there is a correlation between being a great teacher and a great scholar,” he said. “This is something that today’s winners have shown in greater measure than others.”
Father Matera was honored with the Overall Teaching Excellence Award, which is given to a faculty member who has excelled in teaching for at least 10 years. In the words of Brennan, Father Matera is “a model of the teacher-scholar providing consistent instruction informed by the highest standards of scholarship.”
In addition to directing more dissertations in the area of biblical studies than any other faculty member, he is the author, among other works, of New Testament Christology (1999) and New Testament Theology: Exploring Diversity and Unity (2007). Father Matera is also a leading authority on St. Paul, having delivered as many as 25 lectures on the seminal Christian figure to various universities and dioceses. His role in the development of curriculum in the School of Theology and Religious Studies was also cited by Brennan.
Speaking after the ceremony, Father Matera credited Jean Giblet, a French theology teacher of his at The Catholic University of Leuven, for his success as a teacher and scholar of biblical studies. “It really started for me at Leuven from 1964 to 1968,” he said. “Jean Giblet was a great, great teacher, the person who taught me biblical studies.”
Bornholdt received the Teaching Excellence in Early Career Faculty Award, which is bestowed on a professor who has excelled in teaching for less than 10 years. According to Brennan, Bornholdt is “a prolific scholar who brings the excitement of her research to her teaching.”
Her skills as a teacher have prompted an increasing number of students to continue studying German after they complete their language requirement, Brennan said. She has inspired them outside the classroom as well. As the adviser to the campus-wide German club, she organizes and participates in a weekly social gathering in which students practice their German. She also accompanies her students to watch German films at the Goethe-Institut, the German cultural center in Washington, D.C. And she takes them to the German and Austrian embassies to attend cultural events.
Reflecting on her award, Bornholdt said that having moved to the United States from Germany as a graduate student, she understands the importance of immersing oneself in a new culture. “This experience is invaluable in order to understand not only the new culture, but also to look with fresh eyes at one’s own culture,” she said. For this reason, Bornholdt has welcomed the opportunity to take her students to Germany and Austria, as she began doing as a doctoral candidate at Indiana University.
Mathews was honored with the Advancement of Teaching Award, which recognizes creative and innovative contributions in teaching effectiveness. In the words of Brennan, Mathews has not only “been engaged in a productive research program, but he also has a passion for education innovation.”
Mathews has developed an alternative energy curriculum of courses that are offered by the departments of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and chemistry, the provost noted. Mathews also has recorded podcasts of all his lectures and posted these videos on the Internet. As a result, Mathews’ students have access to his materials at all times. That access came in handy during the three blizzards of last winter, noted the provost.  
In addition, Mathews has been consistently involved in the senior design capstone project, not only with electrical engineering and computer science majors but also with mechanical and biomedical engineering majors.

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