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Faculty Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service

Each year, Dean Theresa Lee and members of her cabinet, with help from department heads, recognize faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences for their excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and lifetime achievements. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, however, we were unable to host the annual awards banquet in-person. Each faculty member received a plaque and congratulations from the dean. We posted a video to the college YouTube channel here, which features each faculty award winner. 

Faculty Academic Outreach Service Award

The academic outreach awards recognize extraordinary contributions of faculty to the public that occur as an outgrowth of academic pursuits and are related to the university’s academic mission. The Academic Outreach Service Award recognizes faculty who apply their knowledge to the benefit of the community by helping to seek solutions to community problems and issues. Defined more specifically, outreach service extends the faculty’s disciplinary expertise acquired through research, scholarship, and creative activity to the community. 

Nicole EggersThis year, the college awarded an academic outreach service award to Nicole Eggers, assistant professor who teaches African history. Soon after arriving in Knoxville, she became aware of the Bridge program and was invited to speak with staff about the history and cultures of Congo, which have shaped the experiences of some clients. After speaking with the staff about the isolation that new refugees feel when they arrive, she decided to work to build the kinds of social networks that can help them support each other while learning how to adapt to their new lives in Knoxville. 

She has served as a facilitator for the group, in part, because she is fluent in Swahili. She invited Enkeshi Thom El-Amin, a lecturer in the sociology department, to work with women on a project, Sew It Sell It, which El-Amin started to provide a small industry that women can carry out in their homes. Since the onset of the coronavirus, it has been more difficult for the group to meet, but Eggers invited Katie Crawford, a doctoral student in the College of Nursing, to help people with accessing healthcare. She also worked with the Bridge staff to move forward summer gardens for fresh food for the refugee community in 2020. 

Excellence in Research Award/Creative Achievement Award

We seek to recognize faculty members who excel in scholarship and creative activity while also being fully engaged in the other responsibilities of faculty jobs, primarily teaching and service. To this end, the college honors faculty in three stages of their research careers – early, mid, and senior – with awards for excellence in research or creative achievement, as well as honoring a faculty with an award for Distinguished Research Career at UT.

Sara Ritchey, associate professor of history, received a mid-career research award. Ritchey is a scholar of medieval Europe who is leading that field in new directions, as a specialist in women’s history and the history of medicine. This year, in addition to an award-winning co-edited volume, she will be publishing her second monograph, The Recovery of Health: Religious Women, Caregiving, and Erasure in Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press.) In recognition of the value of this work, she was awarded two of the most prestigious and competitive fellowships in the humanities, from the NEH and the ACLS. Her work has also been published in the major journals in her field, and in 2018, she gave the plenary address to the most important American conference on medieval history. 

A pillar of the department’s research specialization in pre-modern Europe, she was central to the development of the history department’s research and teaching specialization in the history of medicine. Ritchey is active in the women and gender studies interdisciplinary program. She has done all this while being a strong advocate for faculty and student diversity, a leader in departmental conversations about pedagogy, and a generous mentor to graduate students.

“I am grateful to the college for its sustained support of research in the humanities, which has enabled my work to grow in multiple new directions,” Ritchey said. “Receiving the award this year has been particularly delightful because I was able to celebrate the honor alongside two brilliant members of my department, Nikki Eggers and Pat Rutenberg, who are also recipients of 2020 faculty awards from the college.”

Excellence in Teaching Award

Each year, the college recognizes tenured and tenure-track faculty excellence in teaching by presenting both junior- and senior-level teaching awards. The lecturer excellence teaching award recognizes lecturers.

Patricia Rutenberg received a lecturer excellence teaching award. Rutenberg is a dedicated and creative teacher who provides excellent history instruction for our students in a variety of formats, from the honors section of the Western Civilizations survey to the upper-level course on public history. Peer evaluations praise her easy rapport with students, her well designed syllabi, and her creative pedagogy. Her strong student evaluations suggest that she is much appreciated, and they note that she is knowledgeable, empathetic, and brings history alive for them. While these qualities are sufficient to make her worthy of this recognition, she brings much more to undergraduate students in history — a model for experiential learning, and an expression of the university’s commitment to diversity and community outreach.