Report of the Committee on Graduate Student Teaching Awards at Columbia University


We heartily endorse the recommendation of the Katznelson Committee that the recognition of outstanding teaching be extended to include recognition of the contributions made by the graduate student members of the Columbia community. In general, we would like the process of selecting and honoring graduate students to parallel the process for faculty. Because the committee was constituted relatively late this year, we recommend streamlining the nomination process this one time in order that the first graduate awards can be offered at the same time as the first faculty awards.

Below are our recommended procedures. Unless specified otherwise, we assume congruence with the procedures and assumptions of the committee on Faculty Teaching Awards.

1. Composition of the Committee:  The Committee on Graduate Teaching Awards will typically consist of five faculty and three graduate students chosen to represent the various areas of the University where graduate students do significant teaching. Graduate student membership will usually include one representative from the Humanities or Social Science departments within the Arts and Sciences, one member from the Natural Sciences or Engineering, and one from the professional schools.

2. Number and Nature of the Awards:  Three awards, each of $2,500, should be awarded at a public occasion at the end of the academic year, preferably at Commencement or at the same ceremony where faculty teaching awards are distributed.

3. Eligibility:  Graduate teaching will be inclusively defined to include student officers holding the rank of TA1, TA2, Preceptor, and Associate III who perform significant teaching duties. In cases where the nature of the graduate student's individual and independent teaching contribution might not be clear, letters of nomination should specify the exact nature of the graduate student's duties and achievements as an instructor.

4. Distribution:  As with faculty awards, no a priori allocation across schools or fields should be mandated, but there should be sensitivity to the desirability, over time, of recognizing different kinds of graduate teaching as conducted in the various parts of the University.

5. Criteria:  Outstanding teaching by graduate students will, as with the teaching of established faculty, take many forms. In general, the committee wishes to recognize teaching marked by the active and critical engagement of the teacher with his or her students in exploring a domain of knowledge and marked, as well, by the demanding nature of these pedagogical interactions.

6. Nominating Procedures:  Nominations for graduate student teaching awards should be requested by Provostial letter from all members of the Columbia community, including, but not limited to, faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in all branches of the University in which graduate students serve as officers of instruction. Consideration should be given to mailing these letters in conjunction with the letters requesting nominations for faculty awards. Nominations should be made in the form of a detailed letter outlining the nature of the outstanding teaching contribution made by the nominee. These letters of nomination will be screened by the selection committee, and for the most promising candidates, full teaching dossiers will be requested from the appropriate program or department. Dossiers will consist of teaching evaluations, syllabi, class observation reports, further letters of support, or any other material deemed relevant.

Because the committee feels strongly that graduate student teaching awards should first be given in the same year as the faculty awards are initiated, we are recommending that, for the academic year 1995-96 only, nominations for this award will be solicited solely from department and program heads. This will allow the selection process to be completed by May 1.

7. Selection Procedures:  The Committee on Graduate Student Teaching Awards will select up to five winners from among those whose nominations are supported by full and persuasive dossiers.

8. Timing:  Ordinarily, the work of this committee will parallel that of the Committee on Faculty Teaching Awards. Letters requesting initial nominations should be sent out to allow at least three months to be devoted to the various stages of the nomination and selection process. This should be completed by April 20 of each academic year.

Ann McDermott
Jean Howard, Chair
Michael Mauel
Jack Snyder
Kendall Thomas
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