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Pinanski Teaching Prize is awarded annually to members of the Wellesley College faculty to honor fine teaching.
This year's recipients, revealed at Commencement exercises on May 30, are Chris Arumainayagam, professor of chemistry; Kathleen Brogan, associate professor of English; and Joseph Joyce, professor of economics.
The following citations area excerpts from the nominations submitted by students and others.
Chris Arumainayagam, Professor of Chemistry
Attend any one of Professor Chris Arumainayagam’s chemistry classes, and you may wonder why all Wellesley students are not chemistry majors.
This professor of chemistry—Professor A, as he is known—compels students to think deeply about the world around them. As one student said: “One rarely leaves his classroom without probing questions, which he is happy to discuss in office hours.”
Students agreed that his courses are some of the most challenging and demanding that they have ever taken. And yet they would do it all over again—so long as Professor A was teaching. That’s because he inspires his students to be not only better scientists, but better people.
One student said: “He has always encouraged me to be the best in my field (which, surprisingly, is not chemistry). Through conversations with him… I have found a passion for… learning.”
Professor A cares deeply about his students and about their success. He makes himself available for extended office hours, invites students to community dinners, and he has helped arrange for students to do summer research in some of the best radiation chemistry and astrochemistry labs in the country.
One student wrote, “He provides the space, the time, the means to learn. The only hurdle facing us… is finding the inner motivation to learn. Because of his inspiration, this last ‘hurdle’ is never quite that large.”
For all of these reasons, Wellesley College awards to Chris Arumainayagam the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize.
Kathleen Brogan, Associate Professor of English
Kate Brogan’s classroom is more than a room with desks and chairs. It is a sacred space. It is a no-judgment zone. It is a place where students lead discussions.
As one student said, “Every student is encouraged to share her input, and discussion is never interrupted or cut off due to arbitrary time constraints. Professor Brogan ensures that we follow every possible idea through to its fullest, and I find myself reflecting on class discussions daily.”
This associate professor of English is also noted for her willingness to address complicated topics in class, and for her ability to push students outside of their comfort zone.
One student said: “She fosters an inviting space in which students may explore new and unfamiliar perspectives.”
That student added: “This class, more than any other, has exposed to me the wide range of encounters and viewpoints that encompass the human experience, and I find myself more aware of, accepting of, and comfortable with cultural and ethnic diversity than before.”
Ever the lifelong learner, Professor Brogan often asks for feedback on her teaching so that she may adjust to the needs of the class. One student commented: “She acknowledges the shared learning that goes on in class, and validates student contributions even when she disagrees with them.”
For her commitment and dedication to teaching and to her students, Wellesley College is proud to award to Kate Brogan the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize.
Joseph Joyce, Professor of Economics
Professor of Economics Joe Joyce has a signature move in class. He is the king of the cold-call. That is, calling on students before anyone has an opportunity to volunteer answers to his questions.
As one student said: “He did not care as much that students he cold-called necessarily got the right answer, but that everybody was learning the material and actively engaging with the material and each other.”
Professor Joyce’s “effortless and calm” style of teaching has helped introduce students to the beauty of the field. As one student said, “This course allowed us to approach economics with the heart and not just the brain. He preserves the human aspect… of economics, a field of study that is often overtaken with numbers and theories.”
Other students were surprised by his style of teaching. There was the time he read a poem aloud in class—not at all what students expected from their Economics of Globalization professor.
Over the last five years, Professor Joyce’s service to Wellesley has also extended to the Madeleine K. Albright Institute for Global Affairs, where he serves as faculty director. As one faculty nominator wrote, “His central role in the Albright Institute is an expression of his deep commitment to his calling as a teacher, a commitment that does not stop at the classroom door or at the end of the semester.”
The faculty nominator also said, “Something that stands out to me about Professor Joyce is that he really believes in every single one of his students.”
For believing in—and cold-calling—generations of students, Wellesley College is pleased to award to Joe Joyce the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Teaching Prize.