Provost’s Awards honor innovation, mentorship

Provost’s Awards honor innovation, mentorship

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez

Provost’s Awards honor innovation, mentorship

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez
Provost Jeffrey Duerk lauded faculty members from diverse disciplines for their dedication to advancing the University’s mission.

In April nearly 100 University faculty members and leaders came together to celebrate the 2022 Provost’s Awards. Made up of three categories—Teaching Awards, Research Awards, and Awards for Scholarly Activity—each focuses on outstanding achievements in the classroom and beyond. Hosted at the Lakeside Village, the event provided the opportunity for members of the University community to gather to celebrate for the first time since December 2019. 

Among the categories, the Provost’s Teaching Awards—which include the Excellence in Experiential Teaching Award, the Discussion-Based Teaching Award, the Transdisciplinary Innovation Teaching Award, and the Luis Glaser Mentorship Award—are a commitment to supporting and recognizing exemplary teaching, serving as a pillar of the Roadmap to Our New Century. 

“We are consistently reminded that our faculty members have the ability to advance knowledge and define future learning outcomes through their work,” said Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “They are deserving of recognition for confronting new challenges with an innovative lens and for consistently taking new approaches to engaging with our communities.” 

This year’s award recipients hailed from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Each recipient shared how much the award, and institutional recognition, meant to them. 

University of Miami Provost’s Excellence in Experiential Teaching Award 

Ashley Falcon, assistant professor of clinical, School of Nursing and Health Studies

“It is an honor to receive this recognition. Such a validation further motivates me to continue my efforts to offer students experiential learning opportunities that engage, prepare, and empower them to tackle the public health challenges of today and tomorrow.”

University of Miami Provost’s Discussion-Based Teaching Award 

Richard Myers, senior lecturer, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Miller School of Medicine

“Each award has reaffirmed that the University community continues a commitment to not only sustained excellence in education, but also to steady improvement. Whenever we modify our curricula, whenever we shift learning modalities and responsibilities from teacher to student, we run a risk of massive failure. I thrive in these environments. The 2022-23 Provost’s Discussion-Based Teaching Award recognizes development of two discussion-based courses that arose as experiments (one at the request of our students). In these courses, I encourage the students to fire us as monolithic slabs of content knowledge. And then rehire us as guides, as mentors, and as sources of critical feedback. For this to work, students and faculty members alike must leave the comfortable environment of the lecture hall and reassess our relationships—as co-conspirators in a shared adventure of discovery, of practice, and of development. And as our students improve, we improve as well. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of this grand adventure. I appreciate the recognition of what we do, together. Warts and all.”

University of Miami Provost’s Transdisciplinary Innovation Teaching Award

Bill Green, professor of religious studies, Fain Family Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies 

“This experimental course worked because of the independence, creativity, collaboration, and commitment of its students. We learned at least as much from them as they may have learned from us.”

Kim Grinfeder, associate professor, interactive media, School of Communication

“I’m appreciative that the University is willing to support and experiment with new and innovative teaching modalities.”

Denis Hector, associate professor, School of Architecture

“This recognition reaffirms that our ability to connect students and faculty members from various disciplines will continue to create new opportunities for interaction and expand the shared intellectual framework of the University.”  

University of Miami Provost’s Luis Glaser Mentorship Award 

Denise Vidot, assistant professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies

“As the first in my family to attend college, I was lost during most of my time as an undergraduate; however, I knew I wanted to ‘cure cancer’ after my father was diagnosed during freshman year. I lacked mentorship and was often turned away when I asked, since I had no experience. Receiving the Provost's Luis Glaser Mentorship award is a breathtaking full-circle moment considering Dr. Glaser was my professor and the very first to plant a research seed in me as an undergraduate student at UM. When explaining that I wanted to be a physician to cure cancer, Dr. Glaser reminded me that researchers make discoveries to share with the medical profession. He then started sharing research opportunities with me, including one with the chair of Epidemiology and Immunology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC). Unfortunately, I had a full-time job to help my family and could not afford volunteer work, so I missed the opportunities he offered. I often wonder how different things may be if I started research at SCCC in 2007 rather than in 2021. Now, as a faculty member at the same University that helped me follow my dreams, I have the privilege to honor my mentors by paying it forward to the next generation of trailblazers. I am especially grateful for opportunities to mentor undergraduates with paid research positions, via work study. A special thank you to WayWay Hlaing, Guillermo “Willy’’ Prado, Sarah Messiah, and Kristopher Arheart—my first mentorship team that has not wavered as I navigate the next season in my career.”

Recipients of the 2021 Provost’s Teaching Awards were also recognized during the ceremony. Read more about last year’s Luis Glaser Mentorship Award, Excellence in Experiential Teaching Award, and the Innovation in Teaching Award.