The Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning Advisory Board accepts nominations each spring for the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning Excellence in Teaching Award. This award is given to an exceptional teacher who is, at least, seven years beyond tenure but who is not on the point of retirement. This award will be made on the basis of a faculty member’s quadrennial review where excellence in teaching has come to the fore as so exceptional that it stands apart from the work of many other gifted teachers. Consequently, either a department chair or the Provost will make the nomination. It is awarded in the year following the quadrennial review at Fall Honors Day.
2014 - 2015 Award Winner
Tim Shannon, Chair and Professor of History
This academic year’s recipient of the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning Excellence in Teaching Award is Tim Shannon, who holds the position of Department Chair and Professor of History. Tim Shannon stands out for his conscientious and highly effective teaching, while maintaining an active research agenda and providing significant service to the college.
Professor Shannon teaches Early American, Native American, and British history. His most recent books are The Seven Years’ War in North America: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford, 2014), and with David N. Gellman, American Odysseys: A History of Colonial North America (Oxford, 2014). His book Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 (Cornell, 2000) won the Dixon Ryan Fox Prize from the New York State Historical Association and the Distinguished Book Award from the Society of Colonial Wars. His articles have appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly, the New England Quarterly, and Ethnohistory. His work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Huntington Library. Professor Shannon is currently working on a biography of eighteenth-century Indian captive Peter Williamson.
Professor Shannon’s students consistently rate him as an excellent instructor, a thoughtful and yet intellectually demanding professor. His commitment to student learning also extends outside the classroom through advising, serving as the faculty director for individualized summer internships, and offering an independent study course.
Professor Tim Shannon exemplifies the qualities we seek in our faculty. Because he is an exceptional teacher, scholar as well as leader within the college community, he richly deserved this recognition.
2013 - 2014 Award Winner
This academic year’s recipient of the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning Excellence in Teaching Award is Bela Bajnok, who holds the endowed position of Alumni Chair Professor in Mathematics. Before joining Gettysburg College in 1993, Professor Bajnok had a wide range of experience, teaching at an Ivy League institution, a large state university, a prestigious European university, highly selective residential colleges as well as at an inner city university with an open enrollment policy. His favorite courses to teach here at Gettysburg College are the Abstract Mathematics I and II sequence and the Mathematics Department’s three research classes for which he provides his own materials. As for Professor Bajnok’s research interests, they are numerous, and he has published widely in such periodicals as The Journal of Combinatorial Theory, The Journal of Approximation Theory, Advances in Geometry, and The International Journal of Number Theory. In addition, Professor Bajnok has published an important textbook entitled An Invitation to Abstract Mathematics. Within his department Professor Bajnok has served as chairperson, coordinated the International Math Olympiad and directed the International Mathematics Talent Search. But it is in the classroom, as one colleague points out, that Professor Bajnok has the uncanny ability to push students to their limit while still maintaining their love of and excitement about mathematics. Students concur and comment that they are grateful that Professor Bajnok has obliged them to think clearly and critically. Indeed, it is important to note that Professor Bajnok’s exemplary work in the classroom has been recognized nationally. He won the 2012 Crawford Teaching Award from the Mathematical Association of America.
2012 - 2013 Award Winner
Kris Stuempfle, who completed her Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, joined the Gettysburg College Health Sciences Department in 1997. She quickly had a very positive impact. Her expertise in Human Anatomy and Physiology, the very foundation of the Health Sciences curriculum, immediately increased the scientific rigor of many upper-level courses. Furthermore, she added breadth and depth to the program with new courses such as Environmental Physiology and Chronic Disease. Professor Stuempfle, however, always continues to seek ways to improve her courses despite ongoing positive feedback from her students. She expressly attended a pedagogical conference to learn how to use case studies in the classroom, a welcome addition because so many students in the Health Sciences Department will be going into the medical field. But it is not simply Kris’s students who benefit from her knowledge and experience. Colleagues new to the department do as well. Kris is always ready to mentor new faculty and to share her teaching materials with those less experienced so that they, too, may find the same success that she has had. Preparing to teach Human Anatomy and Physiology, one colleague wrote: “When I began to work through her teaching materials, I was certain that I would find an impeccably prepared two-semester course sequence that would provide me with a road map of how to teach these complex courses, and also give a student an excellent scientific foundation of the inner workings of the human body. What I discovered was much more than that: a curriculum that demonstrated the beauty of human physiology and forced students to think critically by taking an interdisciplinary approach.” This same colleague made a point of saying that Kris Stuempfle had been instrumental in making him more effective in the classroom. An innovative, conscientious and gifted teacher, Professor Stuempfle is held in high regard by students and colleagues alike, and with this in mind, the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning Advisory Board was proud to give its first Excellence in Teaching Award, an award expressly given to an individual at mid-career, to Professor of Health Sciences Kris Stuempfle.