A professor who combines history and science in one course, a professor who helps students of color adapt to life at Georgetown and another who serves as a faculty adviser to the Georgetown University Student Veteran Association received this year’s Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Gonda Theater on Jan. 30.
History professor Kathryn Olesko, sociology professor Leslie Hinkson and Spanish and Portuguese professor Barbara Mujica received the award, which recognizes the efforts of teachers who succeed in enhancing students’ lives both in and out of the classroom.
Faculty members nominated for the award are typically involved with contemporary research, have innovative teaching styles and are available as a resource to students outside the classroom, according to Georgetown College Dean Chester Gillis.
“Professors who can motivate students and excite students about a discipline and engage students in their research and can do it at a very high level and very consistently should be recognized,” Gillis said.
Olesko is known for her unique interdisciplinary courses that fuse history and science. Because her courses attract a diverse group of students, Olesko said her main focus in the classroom is intellectual diversity.
“Different majors in a course latch on to material in different ways. I find that difference has to be recognized from the start to ensure that the course both accommodates diverse intellectual interests and provides an opportunity for all students to appreciate different expressions of intellectual diversity sufficiently well to grow and develop together,” Olesko said.
According to Olesko, she aims to teach students through building on their existing knowledge, and hopes to give students learning experiences that are tailored to their learning styles and academic interests.
As a faculty member of color, Hinkson said she brings a perspective to teaching that is different from that of many of her peers. Hinkson makes herself available as a resource to all students, but said she is often sought out by students of color.
“Being someone who comes from a low-income background, there are things that I understand about the experiences in particular of low-income students of color and first-generation students that a lot of faculty members don’t get,” Hinkson said.
Courtney Maduike (SFS ’17) said Hinkson has had a significant impact on not just her academic experience, but also on her entire Georgetown experience.
“Professor Hinkson helped me navigate the struggles and stresses of being a student of color coming into her racial identity at a predominantly white institution,” Maduike wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Mujica, the faculty advisor for GUSVA, has done significant service in the Georgetown and Washington, D.C. communities. She has done extensive work with the university to incorporate programs for veterans at Georgetown, most notably with academic assistance.
“You come, you serve. It’s not just teaching,” Mujica said. “We have an atmosphere here where if somebody sees something that needs to be done, that person can do it.”
Mujica also takes students’ learning outside of the classroom to further enrich their academic experience, according to Tim Annick (COL ’16).
“Her teaching extends beyond the classroom, with field trips to plays, flamenco shows, and film screenings, which do more than broaden her students’ intellectual horizons. She encourages and facilitates connections between her students by allowing us to share who we are outside of the classroom with those inside it,” Annick wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Hinkson said the relationships built in the classroom are just as important as the information being taught.
“If I’m in a classroom and I’m not connecting with students, then I gotta up my game,” Hinkson said.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.