Yale Bulletin
and Calendar

May 31-June 21, 1999Volume 27, Number 33

Teaching Prizes

Six faculty members named as outstanding teachers were honored with special awards at the Yale College Senior Class Day program on May 23.

The teachers were nominated by undergraduates for the awards, which were presented by Yale College Dean Richard H. Brodhead. This year's winners and their award citations follow:

William I. Hitchcock

Assistant Professor of History

The Sarai Ribicoff '79 Award for the
Encouragement of Teaching at Yale College

A. Bartlett Giamatti said of Sarai Ribicoff that she possessed "an acute and penetrating mind, effortlessly independent, always engaged, capable of generating original ideas and pursuing them." Each year the Faculty of Yale College bestows the award named in her memory on a junior faculty member in the humanities who best exemplifies these same qualities of character and intellect.

William Hitchcock, you have won renown among your students as a masterful lecturer, a superb seminar leader, and a devoted adviser. Your lectures on modern European diplomatic history are models of clarity and organization -- brightened with unexpected humor and enlivened by uncanny impersonations of such figures as Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. In various seminars focusing on the experiences of Europeans as colonists on other continents or as victims of occupation during the Second World War in their own countries, you make all your students feel the importance of formulating and expressing their own points of view. Students in your classes feel inspired not just to study harder, but to learn more. As one of them remarked, "he has taught us how to be historians" and "left us excited by the prospect of research."

Indeed the example you set as a scholar and your "reputation for friendliness and helpfulness" have brought you an unusually high number of senior essay advisees. Those advisees respect you for setting high standards and praise you for the many ways in which you help them meet those standards.

William Hitchcock, for your own engagement and for your ability to inspire others as well, Yale College is proud to bestow on you the Sarai Ribicoff Award for the Encouragement of Teaching in Yale College.

Gaddis Smith

Larned Professor of History

The Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Teaching Prize

The Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Teaching Prize was established by a gift from an alumnus in the Class of 1942, to be bestowed upon "a teacher in Yale College who has given the most time, energy, and effective effort to helping undergraduates learn."

Gaddis Smith, for nearly 40 years students at Yale have flocked to your lectures on the history of U.S. foreign policy. No doubt the Old Campus today does not contain an assemblage equal in number to all those whom you have taught here. Those beyond the reach of your voice have heard you through the medium of half a dozen eloquent and highly respected books on diplomatic and military history in the 20th century.

To Yale you have come to represent something even more valued than an engaging lecturer and authoritative scholar of international relations. You have been, since your undergraduate days here, a keen observer and an active shaper of the character of this university. Your leadership roles have been too numerous to be listed completely: beginning as Scholar of the House and as editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News in your senior year, you have continued to influence university affairs as a faculty member, department chair, Master of Pierson College, and director of the Center for International and Area Studies. This past fall, you served as the William Clyde DeVane Professor, giving hundreds of students and members of the New Haven community a preview of your forthcoming book on Yale and the external world in the twentieth century. No one is better suited to this task than you, who have been so influential a figure in the most recent part of that saga.

In all the roles you have played here, you have been a model of graciousness and generosity, welcoming each new student and junior colleague and encouraging all of us to help make Yale not just proud of its past but mindful of its future.

For your notable attainments as an instructor and a scholar, and for the dedication you have shown to this university, we are very proud to recognize Gaddis Smith today as an outstanding teacher and leader in the highest traditions of education in Yale College.

Gail L. Hoffman

Associate Professor of Classics

The Sidonie Miskimin Clauss Prize
for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities

Gail Hoffman, you inspire students to master the languages of the ancient past in the present. Whether helping them to interpret eloquent artifacts from Aegean civilizations of the Bronze Age, or encouraging them with their translations of Latin or Greek literature, you enable them to expand their sense of what it has meant, and what it means, to be human.

To such sometimes laborious tasks, you bring a combination of meticulous preparation and playful spontaneity that leads students to levels of proficiency they hadn't dreamed possible. One student in the second semester of introductory Greek wrote: "I could hardly have imagined that we would be reading Plato so soon, with any semblance of ease, without her excellent teaching." You also have a knack for finding in the materials of your courses the crux of current controversies among professional scholars, so as to give even beginning students an appreciation of how this long-established field of study is continually being refreshed by new ideas.

You have proven to be the harbinger of some of those new ideas yourself in your work on immigration and trade between the Near East and Crete. To such research you call upon an extraordinary panoply of disciplines: archeology, art history, philology, geology, literary analysis, epigraphy, anthropology, history, and -- it is said -- scuba diving.

For your myriad skills, your delight in learning, and your devotion to your students, we are very proud to recognize you as an instructor in the highest traditions of education in Yale College.

Diana I. Cordova

Assistant Professor of Psychology

The Lex Hixon '63 Prize for Teaching
Excellence in the Social Sciences

Diana Cordova, your success in teaching college students has surely been influenced by your research on how to stimulate youngsters to learn. In several studies, you have demonstrated that children learn best when teachers don't dispense immediate rewards such as little gold stars, but rather create the conditions that promote intrinsic interest in the process of learning. And indeed you have fostered these conditions so well in your own courses that many of your students choose to major in psychology and avidly compete for the opportunity to undertake their senior projects under your supervision. Indeed a few have been inspired to become professors themselves. "I can only hope," one of them remarked, "that after I finish graduate school I even come close to emulating her teaching style."

But it is not just to specialists that your teaching has appealed. Enrollment has reportedly grown fivefold since you took over the introductory social psychology class. Students report that for the most part this course leads them into a serious examination of how our behaviors are subject to influence from the behavior of others. Once, however, they say that you assaulted your Bobo doll in front of the class, to illustrate the imitative nature of aggression in children.

For your insights into the learning process of the very young and for your ability to motivate learning in your own students, we are very proud to recognize Diana Cordova as an instructor in the highest traditions of education in Yale College.

Alanna Schepartz

Professor of Chemistry

The Dylan Hixon '88 Prize for Teaching
Excellence in the Natural Sciences

Alanna Schepartz, most students at Yale, like their counterparts elsewhere, hardly look forward to a course in organic chemistry. However, once they hear your first lectures, which convey a sense not of the difficulty of the subject but of its intellectual beauty, their apprehension relaxes -- a bit. For it is not by diluting the real challenges of this material, but by instilling in your students a confidence that they can meet those challenges that you have made this class, as several students reported, the high point of their course work at Yale. As one student advised, cautiously, about organic chemistry, "If it's Schepartz, take it."

Students also admire you because you have inspired them by your example to defy any extraneous obstacles to success in their chosen careers. As the first woman ever hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and the first woman to earn tenure in that department, you have taught your students that intelligence, dedication, and the ability to imagine outcomes never before realized are the true and only undeniable characteristics of a great scientist.

In recognition of the high standards and goals that you set for yourself and your students, and the self-assurance that you nurture in them, we are very proud to honor Alanna Schepartz as an instructor in the highest traditions of education in Yale College.

Kenneth Nelson

Lecturer and Associate Research Scientist in Molecular,
Cellular, and Developmental Biology

The Yale College Prize for Teaching
Excellence by a Lector or Lecturer

Ken Nelson, you have given aspiring scientists the extraordinary gifts of your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and indeed your patience as you introduce them to the joys and challenges of laboratory research. We hear a lot these days about the importance of mentors, but there are very few teachers anywhere who can match your deep commitment to helping along the next generation of scientists and making sure that that generation includes everyone with an interest in and a commitment to a life in science: women and men, and people of all races. You have been, from the beginning, a leader in Yale's STARS research opportunity program and have welcomed into your own lab a broad range of talented people: from New Haven schoolchildren, to high school students, to Yale undergraduates, to professional colleagues attracted by the openness of your manner and the meticulousness of your research technique.

Your lab courses on nucleic acids are praised by undergraduates as an exceptional intellectual adventure, the ideal of teaching and learning in a practical setting. In the lab, you inspire students to raise fundamental questions about the chemistry of life processes, even as you train them to focus on the details of how to get those processes to work. Whatever the scope of their inquiry, and whatever the hour at which questions strike them, students turn to you for information or advice and find you always available and alert.

For your tireless support of students as a teacher and adviser, and for your own important scholarly initiatives, we are very proud to honor you, Ken Nelson, as an instructor in the highest traditions of education in Yale College.

C O M M E N C E M E N T1 9 9 9


Baccalaureate Address

Honorary Degrees

Senior Class Day

Teaching Prizes

Scholastic Prizes

Roosevelt L. Thompson Prize

Athletic Awards

David Everett Chantler Prize

Other Undergraduate Honors

Wilbur Cross Medals

Graduate Student Awards


Yale celebrates 298th Commencement
Yale launching a more user-friendly home page on the World Wide Web
Anthony T. Kronman reappointed as Dean of Law School
Festival will bring world of art and ideas to city
Endowed Professorships
New Haven attorney Julie Carter joins Office of General Counsel
To eat well, relax at the table, advises master chef Pépin
Reunion programs will both educate and entertain returning alumni
Some Yale graduates dancing down a different path
Yale's new student-built solar car headed for Sunracye '99
New alumnae's nursing training included health work overseas
Harold Samuel dies; brought musicians' archives to Yale
Dining staff friendliness ranks high on survey
Prostate Cancer Awareness Stamp to be unveiled at campus event
Conference to explore the future of language
Dr. William F. Collins is recognized for lifetime contributions to neurosurgery

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The six faculty members honored on Senior Class Day for outstanding teaching are (from left): Gail Hoffman, Diana Cordova, Kenneth Nelson, Alanna Schepartz, Gaddis Smith and William Hitchcock.