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Northwestern University

2016 Recipients

David W. Gatchell

Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Clinical Professor

David Gatchell is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University. He is driven to help all of his students identify their passion and realize their potential by understanding their intellectual, social, and emotional needs through which he can connect with them personally. In his courses, workshops, and advising, he applies best pedagogical practices from the literature to create effective learning communities that are centered around making prior knowledge visible and assessing the gain of new knowledge in a timely manner (formative assessment). In teaching, he offers what one student described as “an impressively personal education to all of his students,” and values the ability to look at a problem from multiple perspectives, encouraging his students to do so as well. His students note that through his teaching they become skilled in learning from obstacles and mistakes, which keeps them thinking critically. As one student describes, “He has an original way of looking at things as opportunities instead of dead-ends that is inspiring as a student when classes or team relationships become difficult.” His students are also grateful for the time he takes to support their learning outside of classes, and reflect that he teaches them to connect theory to practice. As one student states, “he makes sure that we understand how our work could impact the world, and he empowers us to think big and push past our limitations.” Gatchell is also the Director of the Manufacturing and Design Engineering (MaDE) program in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering, where he advises students on their class choices, internship opportunities, extra-curricular activities and post-undergraduate aspirations. Professor Gatchell received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University and his A.B. in Physics from Bowdoin College.

Elizabeth M. Gerber

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Elizabeth Gerber is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and Communication Studies in the School of Communication. She is a campus leader in design education, utilizing project-based learning and interdisciplinary collaborations to impart real-world design and innovation skills to her students. Gerber is known to adapt and personalize her course based on live feedback from her students, always working to ensure that they get the most out of their time in class. Of her unique, dynamic pedagogy, one student stated, “What I loved about having Dr. Gerber as a teacher was that she turned our classroom into a community.” In addition to her teaching and research, Gerber places a high priority on mentoring her students, and many of them have contributed to peer-reviewed papers in the design field. One student claims, “I have gleaned such an abundance of knowledge regarding the world of academia, research, and design via Professor Gerber’s mentorship.” She has also had a tremendous impact in the design teaching space through her founding of the undergraduate co-curricular initiative, Design for America (DFA), in 2009. DFA was created to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to partner with community businesses and design products that will have a real societal impact. The influence of this program on other design engineering programs has been enormous, and DFA can now be found at nearly 40 institutions across the United States. The impact upon student development cannot be understated; one former student attests, “Through Prof. Gerber’s teachings, which trickle down to every level of Design for America, I now feel that I have the power to address some of the biggest issues that affect society today.” Dr. Gerber received her Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering and her M.S. in Product Design, Art and Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and her B.A. in Studio Art and Engineering from Dartmouth College.

Erik Gernand

Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer

Erik Gernand is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film in the School of Communication, where he teaches both writing and production courses such as Media Construction, Playwriting for Filmmakers, and Producing the Sitcom. In his teaching, he draws upon his industry experience in managing a video production company for nearly a decade, and the multiple award-winning short films he has written and directed. During his time in the department, he has helped to deepen the community for students and faculty by creating and continuing to run the annual 48-hour film festival for first-year students. He has also helped to organize the first-year experience and develop a 3-quarter sequence where student teams produce an original sitcom. Gernand has been elected three times to the Faculty and Administrator Honor Roll by members of the undergraduate student body. Students enroll in his courses because of his reputation for creating a space where creativity can blossom. One student claimed, “I believe that work in the arts relies on the artist’s ability to be vulnerable, and I have never felt more comfortable being vulnerable than in Erik’s classroom.” The personalized feedback he provides on all aspects of his students’ work challenges them to think of their projects in new ways.  As one student says, “What separates Erik…is his ability to take any student…and find a way for them to improve themselves.” Erik earned his M.F.A. in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern University, and his B.A. in Telecommunications and German from Ball State University.

Daniel J. O'Keefe

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Daniel O’Keefe is the Owen L. Coon Professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Communication, where he teaches Theories of Persuasion and a Communication Studies Research Seminar. He is an accomplished scholar and researcher in persuasion and argumentation, having received six national association awards for articles he has authored, in addition to two distinguished research awards. He is also a talented educator who is committed to the success of his students in his classes and beyond. His teaching strategy demonstrates his commitment to deepening students’ thinking about the persuasion process and improving their writing abilities. He teaches both larger classes (which can reach up to 80 enrolled students) and smaller seminars; in the latter, he is known for providing detailed, thoughtful, and constructive criticism of his students’ written assignments in ways that provide tangible opportunities for their learning. Student testimonials and comparisons of their writing samples before and after his class demonstrate marked improvements in their grasp of persuasion and writing in both theory and practice. As one former student recalled, “Dr. O’Keefe posed carefully crafted questions that, in turn, made me rethink the structure and content of my paper…I learned to care more about critical inquiry than a grade, transforming me from a passive student to an active learner.” His teaching methods also include incorporating real world examples to contextualize theoretical understanding of course material in the classroom and in his students’ everyday lives, a practice that resonates profoundly with his students. For example, one student said that Professor O’Keefe’s course “taught me the importance of empathy and humility when studying the world around me. It has made me…a better academic, and also a better person.” Professor O’Keefe earned his Ph.D., A.M., and A.B. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Wendy Lee Wall

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Wendy Wall is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities in the English Department of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, where she specializes in early modern literature and culture. In the classroom, she strives to make literature and language of the early modern period accessible to her students in a way that influences their perspective on the world today. In her courses, she demonstrates pedagogical respect for her students by holding high expectations for the work they produce. As one student says, “One of her greatest strengths in the classroom is the ability to discern how best to challenge her students.” Her students note that, even in classes of up to 70 students, she engages everyone through her genuine interest in their perspective and insights. The impact that her teaching has on her students’ perceptions of the world also lasts far beyond graduation. Through encouraging her students to interrogate the contextual history of language down to specific words, she instills in them the understanding that no ideas, past or present, are either self-evident or unchanging. One former student, now a medical professional, reveals the impact of Prof. Wall’s focus on imparting the power of words and language: “literature transcends pages and words and is entwined with life.” She has been the director of the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities since 2013, where she has implemented a summer Humanities Plunge that exposes participating students to myriad immersive experiences including theater, film, culinary arts, and writing. One student described her leadership of the Institute as that of “a dynamic leader, who never fails to speak enthusiastically and infectiously about each and every topic within the humanities.” Professor Wall earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, and her B.A. from the University of Alabama.

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