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2003 Pinanski Prize citation
Presentation of Awards
"Talented," "nurturing," "dedicated," "enthusiastic," "phenomenal." These are just some of the words used by student nominators to describe Stanley Chang, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.
In the words of one student, "His intellectual curiosity and brilliance overwhelmed me." Admired by first-years and seniors alike, Stanley Chang "effortlessly blends intelligence and humor," and "finds the most illustrative examples for the most abstract concepts."
One student remembers trying to figure out for days how "in a non-proof, he proved that everyone's name is Julie." (Now there's a puzzler!) Students recognize that Professor Chang uses his humor to affirm his "single-minded devotion to academic excellence." In addition, students commend him for "bringing a sense of integrity and honor to his profession."
"Inspiring students to work to their fullest, Professor Chang consistently sets the bar for his courses high, and expects his students to rise to the challenge," wrote one student, speaking for many. In return, Stanley Chang provides a new way of approaching mathematics. One student described having "detested math ever since tenth grade" and being utterly convinced that "multivariable calculus would be no exception. That was before taking a class from Professor Chang," she added, attributing her transformation to the fact that "he wanted me to succeed and knew that I could, which made me want to prove to him that he was right."
Another student, proud of her accomplishments in Professor Chang's demanding course, credits her newfound confidence to his teaching, "I know that I will thrive because I have learned how to work well in difficult and sometimes frustrating situations. I have learned to succeed and I know that Professor Chang will be a large part of my success story."
Students expressed pride not only in their own successes in Professor Chang's classroom, but also in those of their peers, delighting in seeing their classmates "excited about solving puzzles." His students are certain that Professor Chang is "one of the reasons why Wellesley is the great place that it is." Quite simply, as one student wrote, "He's just that good.
Roxanne L. Euben
"What exactly makes Professor Euben different from every other professor I've had at Wellesley?" asked one student nominator of Roxanne Euben, Associate Professor of Political Science. "She is different because she terrified me on the first day of class."
Students consistently describe Roxanne Euben's classes as both the most challenging and the most fulfilling of their Wellesley careers. In the words of another student, "No one gets off easily in Professor Euben's classes. Woe to the student who makes a comment without being prepared to support her position against the strongest possible objections to it."
Students speak of the high expectations Roxanne Euben has for them, and of their strong motivation to meet those expectations. They describe a professor who works her students hard and works hard for them, who pushes them to question their assumptions and to approach life with a more critical eye through their applied study of political theory. Describing Professor Euben's Comparative Political Theory class, one student commented, "No other class in my Wellesley career gave me as much delight in academic struggle."
The intensity of the classroom experience with Roxanne Euben is apparent, but students speak as well of her unceasing efforts to create a comfortable classroom environment for intellectual exploration. They commend her for her deft facilitation of lively class discussions. Roxanne Euben's students cherish her teaching, they say, not only because her dynamic and challenging classes bring political writings to life, but because her lessons affect and inspire them beyond their one semester of political theory - or two, or three, or four semesters for some Euben fans.
Professor Euben has taught me "as much about pedagogy as … about political theory," one student nominator wrote. Some seniors were lamenting a future without a Professor Euben class, while others were reflecting on the impact they know she will continue to have on the next stage of their lives. One praised Professor Euben for "teaching students what real intellectual activism is," describing this as "a skill that I have taken to my other classes, my job search, and even my personal relationships."
In the words of one student nominator, expressing a sentiment that ran strongly through the many letters students wrote in praise of this beloved teacher, "She truly is a gift to the Wellesley community."
Nominators of Marilyn Sides, Senior Lecturer in the English Department, provided vivid accounts of an intellectually-electric classroom focusing on students and their work. Ms. Sides often structures her creative writing courses as workshops with roundtable discussions, establishing for her students a "community of writers."
One student characterized this learning environment as one in which: "We are all readers, we are all writers, and thus we are all experts, and all amateurs." Another student wrote of leaving these classes "not only invigorated about writing, but also having learned much about myself."
Part of the magic of these writing classes, according to student accounts, was the special way in which Ms. Sides was able to find in their stories powerful moments of which they, themselves, were only vaguely aware. When she brings such a passage to the attention of its author, one student wrote, it's a bit "like Gene Kelly breaking into song and dance at the moment in the rain when words just won't work. You watch her and suddenly you, too, understand the moment exactly." And, as another student testified, in every teaching encounter, Ms. Sides approaches the student writer with the same respect and seriousness she would bring to a professional peer with a record of published work.
Marilyn Sides received high praise as well from fellow faculty members. One long-time colleague wrote: "Each student that Marilyn teaches is an individual to her, with unique talents that she needs to tap … I constantly recommend students to Marilyn (and they return to me just as often to thank me for steering them there). I have such faith that she will meet them where they are and bring them along to a new and better place in their work."
Students say they accumulate in a course with Marilyn Sides a portfolio of stories that show the evolution of many drafts and the insights from her "concrete suggestions and detailed comments on how to improve." Even more importantly, they take from her courses the ability and the desire to continue on with their growth as writers. According to one student, it was Ms. Sides's "focus on turning her students into wonderful writers, helping us to improve our technique and motivating us to never stop writing that helped me to re-discover my love for creative writing."
Marilyn Sides guides all her students in discovering their own stories, and for some she becomes an integral part of their own Wellesley story. As one student concluded, "She is that perfect professorial blend of sheer brilliance, dedication to her students, creative genius and wacky personality that makes every class an adventure... Marilyn Sides is the Wellesley professor that I will be telling stories about for years to come."