2015-2016 Excellence in Teaching Award Winners
Six faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music received an Excellence in Teaching Award for the 2015-2016 academic year. The recipients are Professor of Physics Stephen FitzGerald, Associate Professor of Music Theory Jared C. Hartt, Professor of Music Theory Rebecca V. Leydon, Associate Professor of Politics Michael Parkin, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature Claire Solomon, and Professor of Oboe and English Horn Robert Walters. The Source asked the faculty members to share what this recognition means to them.
Stephen FitzGerald, Professor of Physics
Stephen FitzGerald started his physics training in Ireland, obtaining a bachelor’s degree at Trinity College Dublin. He received a PhD at Cornell University and caught the teaching bug during a one-year position at Colgate University. His preparation for Oberlin was rounded out by a postdoctorate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“Receiving this award is a true honor that is made all the more special by reading the names of the previous recipients. Being a faculty member at Oberlin has been a dream job for me. Every day I interact with wonderful students in the classroom, research lab, and throughout the campus. It is a privilege to introduce these students to the wonders of physics, in general, and quantum mechanics, in particular. I have learned so much from them in this process. I also owe a debt to my colleagues in the department who have encouraged and inspired my teaching throughout my time at Oberlin.”
Jared C. Hartt, Associate Professor of Music Theory
Jared Hartt has taught at Oberlin since 2007. His research focuses on the music of Guillaume de Machaut, as well as the medieval motet in general. He has published extensively on sonority and syntax in the ars nova and has also presented his research at numerous national and international conferences. He is the editor of a forthcoming volume, A Companion to Medieval Motets, to be published by Boydell and Brewer in 2018. Since receiving his PhD in Music Theory from Washington University in St. Louis, Hartt has become actively involved in the International Machaut Society, serving as its treasurer, secretary, and archivist. He is also a senior piano examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music.
“I am honored and humbled to receive Oberlin’s Excellence in Teaching Award. I thank especially all of my students from the past ten years. Indeed, it is because of them that I truly love coming to the classroom every day; my daily interaction with students fuels my energies as a professor. I believe that the strong rapport I establish with my students constitutes one of the most essential ingredients for a successful, enjoyable, meaningful learning experience. I also thank my colleagues for their mentorship, as well as my own previous teachers who served as admirable role models. I look forward to several more decades of teaching the gifted and dedicated students of the conservatory and college.”
Rebecca V. Leydon, Professor of Music Theory
Rebecca Leydon earned a PhD in Music Theory at McGill University, an MA at the Eastman School of Music, and Bachelor of Music at the University of Toronto. She has been a member of the Music Theory Division in the Conservatory since 1998, teaching courses in music theory to students in both the conservatory and the college. Her research explores musical semiotics, especially in 20th-century works; her publications appear in the journals Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, Perspectives of New Music, Popular Music, and numerous anthologies.
“I’m honored to receive this award. I am continually motivated by the energy and achievements of my colleagues and students in the Conservatory, especially my fellow music theorists, and I continue to draw inspiration from the great teachers I encountered during my own education.”
Michael Parkin, Associate Professor of Politics
Michael Parkin received a PhD at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on the relationship between political candidates, the media, and voters in the United States. He is particularly interested in how candidates use "new media" (e.g., the Internet, entertainment television) and the effect this has on voters. His research has appeared in American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and The Social Science Computer Review. He teaches courses on political psychology, media and mass political behavior, campaigns and elections, quantitative research methods, and American politics.
“It's obviously a tremendous honor to win this award. There are so many fantastic teachers at Oberlin, and it's humbling to be added to such an impressive list of past winners. I'm very grateful to the students who have challenged me with their passion for learning and my colleagues who have supported me and offered great advice over the years. For me, this award celebrates the positive and inspiring educational environment at Oberlin.”
Claire Solomon ‘98, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature
Claire Solomon received a BA at Oberlin College and an MA and PhD at Yale University. Solomon’s Spanish-language courses include seminars on novels like Julio Cortázar’s Rayuela and Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad, thematic surveys like Melodrama and Anxiety and Youth in Revolt, and introductory courses in literary and cultural analysis. Her courses in comparative literature, including Avant-Garde in América and Autonomy and Economics in Literature of the Americas, pose research questions that can be pursued both as themes within literature and ways of analyzing literature in relation to its conditions of production. She is the author of Fictions of the Bad Life (Ohio State UP, 2014), which was a finalist for the South Atlantic Modern Language Association book prize.
“I feel very grateful and honored. It's particularly meaningful to me given the distinguished group of faculty who have won this award in the past. At a moment when teaching, and particularly teaching in the humanities, is undervalued, it feels great to be recognized for the work I do.”
Robert Walters, Professor of Oboe and English Horn
Robert Walters joined the Cleveland Orchestra as solo english horn in 2004, and two years later began teaching at Oberlin. Prior to his appointment in Cleveland, he served in the same capacity with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. His varied career has led to appearances as guest soloist with top orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Beijing Radio Symphony, and festival performances at Banff, Bard, Caramoor, Grand Teton, Spoleto, and the Music Academy of the West. In November 2015, he premiered Bernard Rands’ Concerto for English Horn with the Cleveland Orchestra, which was commissioned for Walters as part of Oberlin Conservatory’s 150th anniversary celebration.
“Being nominated for Oberlin’s Teaching Excellence Award is a great honor for me both personally and professionally. As a fourth-generation college music professor on my father's side of the family, the enterprise of undergraduate education is quite literally ‘in my blood.’ As a graduate of both the Curtis Institute of Music and of Columbia University, my own education was formed in deep parallel to Oberlin’s unique mission of offering world-class conservatory training amidst the culture and rigor of a premier liberal arts education. It is hard to express the almost molecular sense of vocational home I feel teaching here on a daily basis. I am truly grateful for this award and for my ongoing association with this great institution.”