Georgetown College Professors Honored for Excellence in Teaching
February 5, 2014 – Three Georgetown College professors representing language and culture, the arts and sciences were recognized with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for taking the extra steps to encourage their students inside and outside of the classroom.
Astrid Weigert, visiting assistant professor of German; Maya Roth, associate professor and chair of performing arts; and Gina Wimp, assistant professor of biology, were recognized by their students and peers and received their awards, in honor of their outstanding service, during Georgetown College’s annual faculty convocation on Jan. 23.
“Our students deserve good teachers. These are among the College’s best,” says Chester Gillis, dean of Georgetown College. “They are conscientious, creative and committed to teaching and to student learning. The College commends them for bringing cura personalis to the classroom without sacrificing rigor.”
Exposure to New and Foreign
Weigert, who has been teaching at Georgetown since 1999, has developed courses in the College on German romanticism, German business culture and germanophone countries.
“My goal in teaching is to always improve approach, my assignments, my involvement with the students,” Weigert says. “As a professor in a foreign language department, exploring a new culture and language with my students means guiding them through new territory with an eye towards understanding themselves [and] their own backgrounds better through exposure to the new and foreign.”
In addition to her teaching, Weigert has also been involved in the broader university community, participating in both the Doyle Faculty Fellows Program, a campuswide teaching initiative that infuses themes of intercultural competence and understanding into undergraduate courses,and the Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning, which brings health and wellness issues into the classroom.
Mind, Heart, Body, Spirit
Roth, who served as founding artistic director of Georgetown’s Davis Performing Arts Center from 2005 to 2007, is credited with shaping the university’s theater program.
Many of her courses – World Theater History, Macbeth: Witches, War and Performance and Contemporary Women Playwrights – are cross-listed with other departments and programs – from women and gender studies to comparative literature.
“Part of what I love is fostering a rigorous context for reflecting on complex historical moments and diverse cultural perspectives by drawing on research from many fields and places,” Roth says.
Roth’s interaction with students isn’t limited to the classroom. She also lives among them as a faculty-in-residence and spends hours with them while working on plays.
“When I am directing a play, I spend an average of 200 hours per play with a cadre of students – evenings, weekends. This is a profound community and profound learning experience that engages the whole person – mind, heart, body, spirit,” Roth says. “I come to know these students incredibly well… We collaborate. We share deeply from our range of fields. We reflect on life experiences and ethics as they intersect with the project, and we cultivate imaginations.”
Preparation for the Obstacles
Since her arrival at Georgetown in 2007, Wimp has helped sharpen the focus and curriculum of the environmental biology major, and developed two new courses for that major – Ecological Analysis and Global Climate Change Ecology.
Wimp has received funding from the U.S. Forest Service, National Geographic and the National Science Foundation, among many other entities for her work on sustainability, biodiversity and plant genetics.
She says there’s a delicate balance between being a devoted researcher and engaged teacher, and it’s the kind of challenge she wants her students to be able to manage as scientists.
“In their career as scientists, they will have to learn how to overcome many obstacles. They will conduct thoughtfully designed experiments that nonetheless completely and utterly fail. They will submit well-written manuscripts that are rejected by reviewers,” she says. “I therefore require a great deal from my students, but give them a tremendous amount of support and encouragement to ensure their success.”