Pinanski Prize Full Citation

Presentation of the Awards

Rebecca B. Bedell

Describing Rebecca Bedell, assistant professor of art, as a “brilliant scholar and a wonderful mentor,” student nominators praise her for combining a nurturing personality with a masterful ability to explain complex concepts with clarity. In the words of one student: “her classes have been the most intellectually stimulating, challenging, and ultimately, rewarding academic experiences I have had in college.”

Professor Bedell creates for her students a sense of belonging to a community of scholars. Her students express their appreciation for being “attuned to the fact that she is an author, facing many of the same obstacles we are learning to navigate, such as deadlines and perfectionism.” This experience creates, in the words of one student, “scholar-to-scholar empathy,” so that they don’t feel alone in the writing process.

Students leave Professor Bedell’s classroom having learned to consider different perspectives and to rethink their original positions. They appreciate the intellectual intensity and challenges of her classroom and the feeling of growth they experience from having taken her class. Her masterful explanation of a complex concept created for one student a “Wellesley moment” in which she felt she truly understood the true value of a liberal arts education.

Students also commend Professor Bedell for her commitment to her students beyond the classroom and her generosity with her time. One nominator writes: “The level and quality of attention she gives to each student is so great that I think she truly inspires each of her students to produce better work. She is extremely patient and kind, but she sets the bar extremely high and everything about her attitude encourages perseverance and success in her students.” Indeed, “inspirational” is a word that appears repeatedly in her nomination letters.

Professor Bedell’s care for her students and dedication to teaching is obvious from the nominating letters. One student sums it up with these words, “Professor Bedell’s extremely high level of intellectual engagement and her passionate commitment to her students epitomizes the spirit of the prize.”

It is with pleasure that I award the 2009 Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize to a true Wellesley Woman, Rebecca Bedell of the Art Department.

Donald E. Elmore

Donald Elmore, assistant professor of chemistry, is praised by his student nominators for his interest in his students in and out of the classroom, his clear passion for biochemistry, and his unique and innovative teaching style. They see him as the embodiment of excellence in teaching.

His students express their appreciation for the learning and growth that Professor Elmore fosters in the classroom. In particular, they commend his emphasis on collaboration and his willingness to enhance his courses based on student feedback. Students frequently describe the group work he assigns as central to their learning experience. In the words of one nominator: “Through these exercises we are forced to work as a team, to communicate our ideas in clear ways that are understandable to others, and to actually get to know our classmates.”

Professor Elmore’s passion for biochemistry and its applications are evident and inspiring to his students. They describe him as “charismatic”, “enthusiastic”, and “engaging.” These attributes, as several students point out, are especially valuable in a course taught at 8:30 a.m.! One student, after confessing to having grown disinterested in anything biology-related, notes that Professor Elmore’s biochemistry course taught her that biology can be fascinating. Paired with his enthusiasm for his subject is an ability to explain very difficult chemical concepts in a simple, understandable manner, particularly through the use of analogies.

Student letters describe a professor who is unfailingly committed to his students’ learning, in the classroom and beyond, and one who serves as a resource to students in their academic lives. Students value his frequent inquiries about their independent research projects and their other classes during even brief encounters outside the classroom.

Professor Elmore is described by his students as one of the best professors they have had at Wellesley. As one puts it, Professor Elmore is “teacher, mentor, guide, and motivator” all in one. Another writes that he “has had a profound impact on the academic route I have taken in my studies here, and on the plans I have for my future.”

I am honored to present the 2009 Anna and Samuel Pinanski teaching prize to Professor Don Elmore, who is an asset to both the Chemistry department faculty and to the entire Wellesley College community.

Charlene A. Galarneau

In their nomination letters, students describe Charlene Galarneau, visiting lecturer in women’s studies, as an exceptional and inspirational individual. Student letters remark on Professor Galarneau’s contagious passion for her subject matter, and give clear evidence of their admiration and affection for this teacher whose impact on them extended far beyond the classroom.

The letters portray a classroom in which each student is challenged to take a stand and to discover her own voice, while coming to understand the need for many voices and perspectives on any issue. Professor Galarneau guides these discussions rather than leading them, providing opportunities for students to build communication and leadership skills. Students praise her for challenging them when they hold strong or rigid views and for encouraging them to critically evaluate these views and consider different perspectives. “The discussions were invigorating and demanding,” writes one student, “and deliciously wonderful.” Another student, refl ecting on a particularly challenging discussion related to religion, describes it as “the most mind-opening of my entire four years at Wellesley.” She characterizes Professor Galarneau as “the most passionate I have ever seen a professor.” Several students praise the animated conversations that would continue long after class ended.

Professor Galarneau’s students remark on her masterful skill at imparting knowledge, encouraging critical thought, and nurturing personal development. Her nomination letters are fi lled with student descriptions of powerful and transformative moments that occurred in her classroom. These students write of how the complicated issues related to healthcare and ethics challenged everything they believed before they started her classes. One nominator spoke of her own feelings of frustrations as she grappled with particularly complex issues and refl ected that these moments are “why I love learning and love being a student and they are depend on excellent teachers. I have Professor Galarneau to thank for them.”

Again and again, student nominators express gratitude to Professor Galarneau for motivating, challenging and inspiring them and creating a learning environment in which they found their passion and developed a clear sense of their life’s aspirations.

In the words of one student nominator, “It is my greatest hope and wish that she will receive this award not only to recognize her as an excellent educator, but to allow her students and friends to say thank you: Thank you for always being willing to help us, without fail.”

I am honored to present the 2009 Anna and Samuel Pinanski teaching prize to Charlene Galarneau.

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2009 Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Read the full citations.