2014 Recipients of the University Teaching Awards

David J. Corr
Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Clinical Professor
David Corr has distinguished himself as a highly effective clinical associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Administrators and fellow professors have recognized his dedication to students, as evidenced by his receipt of the McCormick “Certificate of Teaching Excellence” in 2011. Teaching courses that contain both graduate and undergraduate students, Corr works creatively to ensure all students understand basic engineering concepts while continuously challenging those who are ready to apply the concepts. His classes are some of the most popular among engineering students, and they are filled with practical learning experiences, case studies and real world examples. He has been lauded for the time he dedicates to answering questions in and outside of class. In fact, one student remarked, “I have rarely encountered such dedication to his students’ mastery of the material.” In addition, his peers have commended Corr’s impact on the civil and environmental engineering curriculum. He has collaborated with others to ensure cohesiveness among courses and has also created projects that require realistic problem-solving skills. As a practicing engineer, Corr learned firsthand the importance of teamwork and communication, so he believes it is essential to teach these skills as part of his courses. Corr first came to Northwestern in 2003 as a postdoctoral research associate. He served two years as research assistant professor before joining the consulting engineering firm Exponent, Inc. He returned to Northwestern in 2008 and has since earned a solid reputation for his research with the Infrastructure Technology Institute. Corr earned a Ph.D. and M.S. from University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. from Notre Dame.


Rebecca Claire Gilman
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence
Rebecca Gilman is an associate professor in the department of radio, television and film in the School of Communication. Gilman has gained worldwide recognition as a gifted playwright, but to her students she remains grounded in her teaching and helping them succeed as writers with unique voices. One of her students noted, “I saw her play ‘Luna Gale’ a few weeks ago and was completely blown away. I had known her for a year and not once had she mentioned her own talents as she had been solely focused on helping us learn.” Several of her students’ writing pieces have won awards at the Chicago Dramatists’ Ten-Minute Play Workshop and Theatre Masters’ Ten-Minute Play Festival. National and international juried film festivals have also chosen her students’ films to be screened at their events. Gilman’s own writing has won Time Magazine’s Top Ten Plays of the Decade (Boy Gets Girl, 2010). She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for her play, ‘The Glory of Living.’ With all of her success, Gilman is as committed to her students as she is to her craft. Her goal is “to help my students become successful artists by helping them cultivate a strong voice, a unique vision, and an open and collaborative spirit.” Students consistently praise Gilman for her ability to “nurture what is precious to each student” rather than telling them how to write. Gilman challenges her students to ask themselves and their audiences difficult questions because she hopes her students will be active learners and also educate their peers. Off campus, Gilman conducts national workshops specifically for female playwrights. She completed her M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, M.A. at the University of Virginia and B.A. at Birmingham-Southern College.


Jeanne Weiland Herrick
Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer
Jeanne Herrick is a senior lecturer in the writing program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.  Her main teaching goal is to create active learners, and her students will attest that not only has she surpassed that goal, but that she has had a deep impact upon them that goes far beyond academic learning. As one student said, “Teaching from the heart and life experiences, not just from books, is what separates Professor Herrick from the rest.” A faculty member at Northwestern since 1999, Herrick teaches students at every level from freshmen to graduate students and in several schools, including McCormick, Weinberg, and the School of Continuing Studies, where she received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006. She is admired for her uniquely themed courses and development of new pedagogical techniques. For example, she has successfully incorporated team conferencing into the peer review process for each of her students and she has created courses that enable her students to discover the voices of marginalized communities in Chicago.  Herrick is passionate about teaching writing to underserved populations, such as first generation college students and non-native English speakers. Herrick is noted for sharing her innovative teaching techniques with others: she mentors new faculty and collaborates with peers from several disciplines in engineering and communication. She has been a key contributor and instructor in Design Thinking and Communication, an innovative interdisciplinary collaboration between Weinberg and McCormick. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a M.A. from Northern Illinois University and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Todd David Murphey
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence
Todd Murphey is an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.  A member of the Northwestern faculty since 2009, Murphey has had an impact on engineering education both on campus and nationwide. He created and taught a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to thousands of learners around the world and continues to share what he learned during that experience with colleagues and university administrators throughout the country. As a result of that effort, he was a featured speaker at a National Academy of Engineering workshop in 2013. Moreover, Murphey brought the online learning experience to his undergraduate Engineering Analysis students at Northwestern.  That course was very well received by the students and received unusually strong student evaluations.  Student feedback in all his courses consistently indicates a comfortable learning environment in some of the most challenging engineering courses on campus. Students appreciate his ability to explain complex concepts in a way that is accessible to a broad spectrum of learners, and his willingness to incorporate project-based and experiential learning into the classroom experience. Outside the classroom, Murphey has a history of both involving students in his research activities and advising student projects. He has won the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award and was selected as one of 15 scientists nationwide to participate in the Defense Science Study Group for 2014-15. Murphey holds a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology and a B.S. from the University of Arizona.


Neelesh A. Patankar
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence
Neelesh Patankar is a professor in the department of mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.  Throughout his 14 years at Northwestern, his main teaching goal has been to “use the language of mathematics to analyze physical phenomena and apply the analysis to realistic problems.”  Student feedback indicates he has achieved this goal, and thus has had a lasting impact on his students and advisees.  Repeatedly emphasized in student feedback is Patankar’s effective teaching style.  One summarized it this way, “Since the focus was on concepts versus just memorizing equations, I feel like I will remember the important material of this course.”  Among those he has advised are a Rhodes Scholar finalist and three winners of the Best Undergraduate Research and Innovation Award in Mechanical Engineering.  He also received the Cole Higgins Award for Teaching Excellence and was nominated twice to the Associated Student Government Honor Roll.  He is also active in administrative affairs, having served as associate chair of the mechanical engineering department, chair of the curriculum committee, and leading the departmental honors program and the ABET accreditation review process.  Nationally, Patankar was selected as a member of the Defense Science Study Group (2010-11), received both the NSF CAREER Award and the international Junior Award in Multiphase Flow and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.  He earned a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.S. at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India.


Susie Phillips
The Alumnae of Northwestern Teaching Professor 
Susie Phillips is an associate professor in the department of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.  A faculty member since 2003, she has been described as “the linchpin connecting medieval and early modern literature in the English Department.”  Phillips is filled with an infectious enthusiasm for and commitment to her course subject and this passion helps to bring Shakespeare and Chaucer to life for her students in previously unimaginable ways. For example, in one of her classes, she asks students to contribute their favorite songs and poems on the first day, then works to seamlessly weave these modern texts into her syllabus to compare popular lyrics in Shakespeare’s day and our own. She rejuvenates old classroom forms and practices, transforming large lectures into spaces for engaged and intensive discussion. And she inspires in her students a fascination with how texts were produced, published, circulated and read, through eye-opening visits to the Deering Special Collections Library. Phillips is equally engaged in advising her students. As a result of her mentoring, one student writes, “I have adopted the attitude that the point of attending university is to learn how to learn, to cultivate empathy and the ability to think critically.” Phillips has expanded her teaching repertoire by team-teaching a course in the Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program, and also has served as interim director of the Kaplan Program. She serves on the Faculty Distance Learning Workgroup and has been a Graduate Teaching Mentor through the Searle Center. Phillips completed her Ph.D. and M.A. at Harvard University. She earned a master’s degree from Cambridge University and graduated from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges with a B.A.