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Heefner, Stone, Wolter-Gustafson, and Polcha named 2017-18 Outstanding Teaching Award winners

View of a classroom from the front

CSSH names the winners of the 2017-18 CSSH Outstanding Teaching Awards in the Tenured/Tenure-track, Full-time Non-tenure-track, Part-time, and Graduate Student categories.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the 2017-18 CSSH Outstanding Teaching Awards:

Outstanding Teaching Award: Tenured/Tenure-track

Gretchen Heefner, Associate Professor, Department of History. With this award, the college recognizes Gretchen Heefner as a passionate teacher who engages her students in timely topics: from the perils of nuclear war, to the legacy of the cold war for American communities, to the history of social movements in Boston. The committee is impressed with her use of primary sources to explore broader historical questions and offer students many ways to connect the past with challenges in the present. As a student nominator observed, Professor Heefner “has made me feel at home in the History major at Northeastern and has inspired me to do my best work.”

Outstanding Teaching Award: Full-time Non-tenure-track

Michael Stone, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Economics. With this award, the college recognizes Michael Stone’s thoughtful approach to teaching, which emphasizes both theory and evidence based practices in microeconomics, in an effort inculcate independent and creative learners. The committee is impressed by his consistently stellar student evaluations across courses and levels, as well as his comprehensive course materials and assignments that support critical thinking, experiential learning, and student engagement with important present-day issues. Through formal and informal mentoring, Stone emphasizes his students’ intellectual and professional development.

Outstanding Teaching Award: Part-time

Melissa Wolter-Gustafson, Part-time Lecturer, Department of English. With this award, the college recognizes Melissa Wolter-Gustafson’s dedication to each student she teaches in the writing program.  She has excelled in creating courses in which students from diverse backgrounds learn how to engage in a continued dialogue about ways to improve their writing. The committee was impressed by her versatile teaching in First-Year writing and advanced writing courses in Business, Science, Health, and Technical Professions. Described as a flexible, rigorous and dedicated instructor by her nominator, Wolter-Gustafson has adapted “her courses to new needs” of students and has played “a strong role in helping determine the shape and direction of the Writing Program” through her service.

Outstanding Teaching Award: Graduate Student

Elizabeth Polcha, Ph.D. Doctoral Candidate, Department of English. With this award, the college recognizes Elizabeth Polcha’s well developed teaching philosophy emphasizing social justice and media literacy in her courses in the writing program; her commitment to teaching non-traditional students; and her consistent success in creating an inclusive classroom environment. Students describe her teaching as “inspired,” “effective,” and “respectful,” and her classroom as “welcoming,” “professional yet also comfortable.”

We would like to thank the members of the selection committee, the 2016 CSSH Outstanding Teaching Award Winners, for their good work: Nicole Aljoe (English and African American Studies), Denise Garcia (Political Science and International Affairs), Laurie Edwards (English), and Krista Larsen (Criminology and Criminal Justice). Many thanks also to our anonymous donors for their generosity in funding the awards.

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