Nordenberg Announces 2009 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Awards

Issue Date: 
February 16, 2009

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg has announced the winners of the 2009 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Awards. The awards will be given to the following five Pitt faculty members:

Jennifer Cartier, an assistant professor of science education in the School of Education’s Department of Instruction and Learning;

Chuck Kinder, director of the Writing Program in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English;

Michael J. Madison, associate dean for research and professor of law in the School of Law;

Marla Ripoll, a professor in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Economics; and

Mark S. Roberts, a professor of medicine in the School of Medicine, of industrial engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, and of health and management in the Graduate School of Public Health.

Each awardee will receive a $2,000 cash prize and a $3,000 grant for the support of his or her teaching. The awardees will be recognized during Pitt’s 33rd annual Honors Convocation on Friday, Feb. 27, and their names also will be inscribed on plaques to be displayed in the William Pitt Union.

Cartier has been recognized for her ability to teach a broad range of students in a variety of situations, designing courses in pedagogy, curriculum theory, and science education that actively engage students with both science content and scientific inquiry processes.

In a letter notifying Cartier of her award, Nordenberg wrote, “The quality of your teaching effectiveness is reflected in the consistently high marks on student evaluations you have received across the range of courses you have taught. You have worked closely with the teachers of the Pittsburgh Public School District, and your commitment to robust science instruction is evident.”

Margaret S. Smith, a professor of mathematics education in the School of Education, wrote in a letter of support for Cartier’s nomination, “Dr. Cartier is one of the finest educators I have ever known and exactly the type of teacher for whom this award was intended—someone who cares deeply about the learning of others, works tirelessly to support and promote it, and generates intellectual excitement in her students.”

Kinder was recognized for his 28 years of teaching in the Department of English as well as his numerous commitments and responsibilities as the director of the Writing Program.

Nordenberg wrote, “The number and names of the students whose writing you have helped to shape is legendary. Many of your former students singularly credit you for their becoming writers. The fact that you are sought after to lecture and conduct workshops and seminars on the craft of fiction writing throughout the country and overseas is a testament to the high esteem others in your field have for your talents.”

In a letter of support for Kinder’s nomination, celebrated Pitt alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon wrote, “From the moment you walked into his classroom, from the first day, Chuck went to work on you. In his conversation, his formal remarks, and his asides, he insisted that writing fiction was the most important, most interesting, most necessary thing in the world.  And he would not rest until he had you convinced of the truth of that.”

Madison has been recognized for his teaching accomplishments and commitment to training students to think and act like lawyers.

Nordenberg wrote, “You incorporate your scholarship into your teaching, asking students to work on problems that are at the cutting edge of your field. Despite the significant additional work involved, you have employed nontraditional forms of assessment, such as written memoranda, that provide students the opportunity to learn from those experiences.”

In letters of support for his nomination, colleagues noted Madison’s use of advanced technology both within and outside the classroom. Mary Crossley, dean of Pitt’s law school, wrote that Madison “has used technology out of the classroom, handling the administration of courses entirely electronically. While students appreciate the convenience of having syllabi and supplemental materials available online and access to makeup classes and review materials via podcasting, it is with his classroom use of technology that Professor Madison excels in engaging his students.”

Ripoll was recognized for her commitment to engaging students in the study of economics by helping them understand how social scientists interpret the world around them.

Nordenberg wrote, “You create and use concrete models … to help students frame their understanding of abstract concepts. You have a carefully structured series of writing assignments that are linked to lectures and class exercises, providing students with both feedback and practice so that they can develop their research skills.”

David N. Dejong, chair of Pitt’s Department of Economics, wrote, “The hallmark of Prof. Ripoll’s teaching is passion: She is passionate about the subject matter of her courses and is driven to pass this on to her students. This goal extends beyond that of having her students learn the material she presents: She seeks to have them end up caring as deeply about the material as she does.”

Roberts was recognized for his commitment to the education of the students in the three schools in which he has appointments: the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Public Health, and the Swanson School of Engineering.

Nordenberg wrote, “Your ability to motivate your students is noteworthy, as is your dedication to advising master’s- and PhD-level students in clinical research and in industrial engineering. The clinical research courses that you have developed and continue to teach serve to strengthen the degree-granting programs within the Institute for Clinical Research Education.”

Steven D. Shapiro, the Jack D. Myers Professor and chair in the Department of Medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, wrote, “Over nearly a decade, Dr. Roberts has played an integral leadership role in the development of our training programs in clinical research. He has directed the growth of these programs into one of the largest graduate programs in the School of Medicine. Dr. Roberts has also been the ‘soul’ of these educational programs.”