Three UC Berkeley
professors will receive Distinguished Teaching Award on April
- In nearly everyone's life there was a special teacher, one
who brought inspiration and enlightenment to the classroom.
week, at the University of California, Berkeley, three such
instructors will receive the Distinguished Teaching Award, the
campus's highest honor for teaching. Since 1959, when the award
first was given, only 191 of the 4,000 professors who have taught
at UC Berkeley have received it.
recipients - Claire Kramsch, professor of German; Nilabh Shastri,
professor of molecular and cell biology; and Eleanor Swift,
professor of law - will be honored on April 25 at a 5 p.m. ceremony
in Zellerbach Playhouse.
UC Berkeley, a professor's responsibilities are threefold -
research, teaching and service. But it's usually research that
brings a professor recognition, said Jasper Rine, chair of the
committee that selected the awardees and a professor of molecular
and cell biology.
is one of those things that, to do it well, requires an enormous
amount of effort and is recognized only by the students," he
said. "And accolades are not received through any conventional
unique Distinguished Teaching Award, said Rine, "represents
these selfless, unsung efforts."
Department of German
but exciting and popular, is the way students describe Claire
Kramsch, a UC Berkeley professor of German and education since
1989. And that's "a sign of an excellent teacher," said Daniel
Wilson, chair of the German department. "Students come from
far afield to study with her, and they rave about her classes."
in France, Kramsch said she follows the French model of teaching,
which makes little distinction between teaching and research.
"I can't imagine teaching anything that I haven't discovered
for myself," she said.
is known on the national and international language scenes for
her work in applied linguistics and second-language learning,.
Her 1993 book, "Context and Culture in Language Teaching," is
considered a pioneering attempt to re-conceptualize foreign
language teaching as the crossing of cultural boundaries. In
1998, she won the Goethe Medal from the Federal Republic of
Germany for work to foster inter-cultural dialogue.
a youth in France, Kramsch's foreign language options were German
or English. She chose German, although, she said, "it was the
language of the enemy, it was the language hated by my (Jewish)
Kramsch is working on a book about authors such as UC Berkeley
lecturer Maxine Hong Kingston, who write in a language that
is not their native tongue.
also is director of the Berkeley Language Center, which offers
language and language teaching resources to students and instructors.
students are awed by "how many projects she can successfully
juggle at once, and how she still finds time to bake quiches
and invite us all over to her house on a regular basis," said
Margaret Perrow, a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Education.
I once asked her how she integrated theoretical reading into
a busy research and teaching schedule," Perrow said, "she laughed
and said, 'Theory is my bedtime reading!'"
Molecular & Cell Biology
Shastri, educated in India, strives to be more than just a teacher
in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology. He wants to be
guru," the associate professor said, "is one of the most revered
individuals in society in the Indian tradition - a personal
instructor, but one who was historically reserved only for royalty.
I believe students at Berkeley deserve no less."
line with the guru tradition, Shastri said he makes a special
effort to get to know his students, despite the large size of
lecture classes. "I attempt to bring discourse to a personal
level," he said.
Shastri was a great mentor to me," said Andrea Itano, one of
Shastri's former students. A graduate student instructor for
Shastri, Itano said he showed her how to lead a productive discussion
section, design test questions, and organize a class syllabus.
are all things that benefit a student who wishes to go into
teaching someday," said Itano, who now works at the University
of Minnesota's Center for Immunology.
lecture classes, Shastri's students appreciate the everyday
examples he uses to explain difficult scientific concepts, such
as immunological phenomena. "They were the kind that made students
say, 'Ah! That's how it works,'" said Itano.
describing important accomplishments in the field, Shastri would
move beyond the obvious, providing the history behind the experiments,
their rationale, and sometimes even information about the researchers.
Shastri's genius as a teacher derives from a rare talent for
explicating difficult materials," said David Raulet, head of
the campus's division of immunology, "a natural ability to connect
with his students, and a steadfast dedication to improve the
quality of his teaching."
School of Law (Boalt Hall)
professor of law at Boalt Hall since 1979, Eleanor Swift said
she incorporates three perspectives - theoretical, professional
and ethical - in teaching courses on the adversary system of
aim," she said, "is to introduce students to the practice of
law under a system of rules, to develop their ability to critique
those rules, and to enable them to experience the ethical dilemmas
of lawyers acting in role."
Kline, a 1999 graduate of Boalt Hall, said Swift's three-pronged
approach "not only made me a far better lawyer - more careful,
diligent, thoughtful and precise - but her extracurricular guidance
helped me shape my career and life as a lawyer.
lasting imprint of her message, moreover, makes me want to use
my legal education to make the world a slightly better place."
an associate dean at Boalt Hall, made a lasting contribution
to the law school's teaching mission through her work in helping
to establish in 1998 the law school's Center for Clinical Education.
There, students get experience practicing law in the areas of
international human rights and federal criminal practice.
Hill Kay, Boalt Hall's dean, said Swift is "all business" in
the classroom. "She starts at the most basic level of detail
- what happened," said Kay. "Then, she proceeds in an orderly
manner to the highest level of abstraction. She is an excellent
classroom teacher, one who uses the Socratic method in a constructive
Professor Marjorie Shulz, Swift's colleague, "Swift is a master
teacher who knows every inch of her craft, uses it to its fullest,
and is capable not only of modeling outstanding teaching, but
also of advising others about how to do it better. She is a
tremendous resource for the campus in the art of teaching."
Distinguished Teaching Award is given by the Committee on Teaching,
a committee of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.
April 25 ceremony, which is open to the public, also will honor
this year's recipient of UC Berkeley's Educational Initiatives
Award - the College of Natural Resources for its "American Environmental
and Cultural History" course.
For more information about the awards or the ceremony, call
Steve Tollefson at (510) 642-6392 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.