The Catholic University of America

Nov. 8, 2013 

Four Professors Honored For Teaching Excellence

  9/11 service day

From left: President John Garvey, Nora M. Heimann, Sarah Brown Ferrario, Paul G. Taylor, Joseph G. Gatwood, and Provost James Brennan.

Four professors were honored Nov. 7 at Catholic University’s annual teaching awards ceremony and reception, held at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

With fellow faculty members, staff, family, friends, and President John Garvey standing by, Provost James Brennan presented the 2013 Faculty Awards for Teaching Excellence to Sarah Brown Ferrario, associate professor of Greek and Latin; Joseph G. Gatwood, professor of music; Nora M. Heimann, chair and associate professor of art; and Paul G. Taylor, associate professor of music.

Brennan said it is important to honor teaching as it is “that part of our mission that ennobles those of us privileged to be called to the University as faculty and staff. For us at this University, I think we are particularly fortunate in that the values we share for research and the cutting edge of scholarship are immediately transformed into access to the world of innovation in and beyond the classroom.”

The provost presented awards in three categories: Teaching Excellence in Early Career, Advancement of Teaching, and Overall Teaching Excellence.

Teaching Excellence in Early Career

Garvey and Ferrario  

Sarah Brown Ferrario, associate professor of Greek and Latin, received the Teaching Excellence in Early Career Award. This award is given to the faculty member who has excelled in teaching in fewer than 10 years at the University.

In his nomination of Ferrario, L.R. Poos, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, noted that she “epitomizes our ideal of a scholar-teacher.” She has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the British Marshall Scholarship and a Fulbright Scholarship to Greece, as well as a residential scholarship at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

She is author of many articles and a monograph titled Historical Agency and the 'Great Man' in Classical Greece.

Brennan said Ferrario’s teaching evaluations “are nothing less than extraordinary: indeed she has earned that elusive accolade — the perfect ‘10’ — on numerous occasions from her students.”

She has creatively collaborated with colleagues from other departments on three separate courses.

In 2008, Ferrario led a study trip to Greece during spring break and, in fall 2012, she taught at the CUA Campus in Rome. She has advised numerous graduate and undergraduate students interested in applying for international fellowships, such as the Marshall and the Fulbright.

In 2010, she undertook the reformation of the first-year Latin curriculum. Brennan cited her nominator, who wrote, “Retention from the first to second semester improved significantly during that year, not least because of her effort and energy.”

In accepting her award, Ferrario said that when she started teaching, she was “stunned at how much energy it takes to teach well” and noted she still is. She said CUA was a “great place to learn to be a great teacher” and thanked her colleagues for the “vote of confidence in my role in a profession I continue to love.”

Advancement of Teaching

  Garvey and Heimann

Nora M. Heimann, chair and associate professor of art, received the Advancement of Teaching Award, which recognizes creative and innovative contributions to effective teaching, from curriculum development to technological improvements in the delivery of content to the introduction of new courses and areas of study.

Heimann is a specialist in European and American art, history, and culture from the 17th century to the present. She has a particular interest in religious art in the modern world. One of her areas of expertise is the figure of Joan of Arc, on whom she has written a monograph, Joan of Arc in French Art and Culture. She curated an exhibit on Joan of Arc at the Corcoran Gallery in 2006-2007.

In introducing Heimann, Brennan noted her broad experience at CUA, “from teaching art and literature in Paris to close, personal mentoring of students seeking internships and preparing for graduate study.” He described her “innovative instructional initiatives,” such as creating opportunities for current students to curate exhibits on campus, an experience Brennan described as rare for undergraduate students at any institution.

In spring 2013, she taught an interdisciplinary honors-level course, “The Mortal and Divine: Catholic Inspiration in Art and Music throughout the Ages,” with Andrew Weaver, associate professor of music. Brennan said the course “received rave reviews from students, one of whom said that it was ‘one of the most engaging courses I have ever taken.’”

Heimann established a Digital Arts Program in the Department of Art, which “puts the University on the forefront of arts training and provides students invaluable skills for the 21st-century workforce.”

After getting word that she had won the award, Heimann said she received positive feedback from all over the University, which made her realize she is an “ad hoc” member of many departments.

“I’ve longed for colleagues in a small department and now I’ve realized I really have them,” she said.

Overall Teaching Excellence

Garvey, Taylor, and Gatwood

Joseph G. Gatwood, professor of music, and Paul G. Taylor, associate professor of music, were honored for Overall Teaching Excellence, for 10 or more years of excellent teaching.

Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the music school, in his letter to the awards committee, wrote, “This is a rather unusual situation because their careers and teaching have been so interconnected. Both men have been fundamentally important in CUA’s continuing success as a nationally known center for educating young orchestral musicians.”

Taylor has had a distinguished career as a professional trumpet player, serving as a member of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House Orchestra for many years. At CUA, he has served as assistant dean and taught music theory at all levels, from a fundamentals course to the highest level graduate courses.

Taylor's nominator wrote that, “Whether reading a thesis or grading a comprehensive exam, Paul is always thorough, fair, and sensitive to the student's feelings and hard work. It is always clear that he cares deeply about the students and their academic progress.”

Gatwood served as the concertmaster of the National Philharmonic for 20 years and has performed as a solo violinist with many of the nation's symphony orchestras. In 1996, he was named “Teacher of the Year” by the Maryland/D.C. chapter of the American String Teachers Association. When he retired from the National Philharmonic in 2011, a Jody Gatwood Fund was created to pay for the outreach programs of the National Philharmonic. Those programs reach more than 27,000 individuals per year. In the music school, he has mentored generations of young musicians. Brennan said Gatwood has “set an uncompromising benchmark for quality for the University Orchestra as head of the instrumental music division.”

Both professors will retire at the end of the year.

When he learned he had won the award, Taylor said he was astounded. “I have treasured my years here as a teacher,” he said. “I can’t imagine a better award because teaching has always been so dear to my heart.”

Teaching has been “challenging and rewarding, yet every moment working with my students has been a great privilege,” Gatwood said.

To conclude the awards ceremony, University President John Garvey said it was “a wonderful thing to give awards to artists, musicians, and classicists.”

“I never tire of telling people that what makes young people fall in love with education, God, and academic enterprise are the things that touch their hearts,” he said. The academic subjects represented by the awardees are the “heart of the University,” he added.




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