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Five Awarded McCormick Awards For Outstanding Teaching

May 27, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University faculty members David Chopp, Julia Stern and David Tolchinsky have been named the 2008 Charles Deering McCormick Professors of Teaching Excellence, and Lane Fenrich and Eric Schulz have been named the 2008 Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Lecturers.

The McCormick teaching awards recognize individual faculty members who consistently demonstrate outstanding performance in classroom teaching, or faculty who have developed significant innovations that positively influence their own teaching and the teaching effectiveness of others.

Chopp, associate professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics, has successfully experimented with new teaching methods, including a Web-based tool identifying the best time -- from a student viewpoint -- for faculty office hours. The information provided by the Web tool affords Chopp significant out-of-classroom contact with all his students, including those in high enrollment classes.

Chopp also uses the Web to update and make available comprehensive lecture notes from his classes to his students and faculty colleagues. A specialist in scientific computing and applications, he is co-director of the Program in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the master's degree level.

Stern, associate professor of English, is a specialist in American literature. Her courses cover a wide range of subjects, from Puritanism to the Gothic; early captivity stories to slave narratives; and class conflict in the Revolutionary period to politics in the Civil War era. She has directed more than 20 honors theses since 1993.

Stern has worked with numerous students in independent studies and served as honors coordinator for both the English department and the Program in American Culture. She has been recognized for her teaching with a Distinguished Teaching Award from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, a Teaching Recognition Award from the Pan-Hellenic Association and election to the Faculty Honor Roll of the Associated Student Government (ASG).

Tolchinsky, associate professor and chair of radio/television/film, directs the Creative Writing for the Media Program. A practicing filmmaker with several films and screenplays to his credit, he started two innovative academic programs in the School of Communication -- the interdisciplinary Program in Sound Design and the Master of Fine Arts Program in Writing for the Screen and Stage.

Tolchinsky, who received an Illinois Arts Council fellowship in screenwriting, is a former fellow of the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He has been commissioned to write screenplays by MGM, Disney and other major Hollywood studios, and was twice nominated by the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild for a Golden Reel Award.

Fenrich is distinguished senior lecturer in history and serves as assistant dean in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He has taught courses in history, gender studies and American studies. Among his most popular classes is one on U.S. gay and lesbian history. As assistant dean, he oversees the college's freshman seminars and coordinates freshman advising.

Four years ago, Fenrich directed a $962,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education designed to improve American history teaching at the high school level. Twice named to the ASG Faculty Honor Roll, he was chosen in 2004 by Weinberg seniors to deliver the College's convocation speech.

Schulz, distinguished senior lecturer in economics, has taught more than 7,000 undergraduates at Northwestern, many of them in the largest sections of the core courses in microeconomics. He is director of the senior honors program in economics.

Schulz developed a "turbo" intermediate microeconomics course offering accelerated learning for students in the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Program. He also recently developed a popular behavioral economics course.

McCormick Professors are appointed to three-year terms. McCormick Lecturers are named to one-year terms. Faculty members are nominated for the teaching awards by the deans of their schools.

A committee chaired by the provost and comprised of senior faculty members, administrators, and a student representative reviews the nominations. The committee submits its recommendations to the University president, who makes the appointment.
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