Faculty

UVA Awards Outstanding Teachers, Including McIntire Professor Andrea Alston Roberts, Citing Empathy, Technology, and Collaboration

Roberts, who received UVA's Alumni Association Distinguished Professor award, says, “I tell people that being a professor is the best job in the world,” and she still feels that way “after 20-plus years of teaching, all the changes in academe, and a global pandemic.”

By Anne E. Bromley, anneb@virginia.edu

The outstanding professors range from an assistant professor who created a card game that students play in Biology classrooms around the world, to an associate professor who gives his students an assignment to write a “fabulous, funky, or fresh” report analyzing issues, to an education professor who teaches a class speaking only Romanian, to let her teaching students know what it feels like for someone learning a new language.

2022 Teaching Award Honorees

  • Alumni Association Distinguished Professor: Andrea Alston Roberts, Associate Professor of Commerce, McIntire School of Commerce
  • Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Award: Amanda Gibson, Assistant Professor of Biology, Arts & Sciences

All-University Teaching Awards

  • Shannon Barker, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Nada Basit, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science, with courtesy appointment in School of Data Science
  • Rose Buckelew, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Arts & Sciences
  • André Cavalcante, Associate Professor of Media Studies and of Women, Gender & Sexuality, Arts & Sciences
  • Sarah Craig, Assistant Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing
  • Rachel Harmon, Harrison Robertson Professor of Law and Class of 1957 Research Professor of Law, School of Law
  • Nitya Kallivayalil, Associate Professor of Astronomy, Arts & Sciences
  • Marc L. Lipson, Robert F. Vandell Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business
  • April Salerno, Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education, School of Education and Human Development

This cohort of esteemed teachers, whose awards are administered by the UVA Provost’s Office, was honored at a reception this week.

During the pandemic, Andrea Alston Roberts helped students adapt to changes. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)

During the pandemic, Andrea Alston Roberts helped students adapt to changes. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)

The instructors created exciting learning environments that helped their students not only think like a nurse, astrophysicist, evolutionary biologist, criminal lawyer, financial manager, or public intellectual, but also act like one in academic and other professional settings.

Several students mentioned that the teachers so inspired them, they decided to pursue the same or similar professions.

Among the many superlatives found in the awards nomination letters from students, fellow instructors, deans, and other UVA community members, several themes recurred: how professors stressed empathy and ethics, showcased big data and advanced technology, and engaged learners, including with opportunities to collaborate.

“I tell people that being a professor is the best job in the world,” wrote Andrea Alston Roberts, and she still feels that way “after 20-plus years of teaching, all the changes in academe, and a global pandemic.”

One of her reasons is having a positive impact on a young person’s life. “I am fully aware that this opportunity comes with great responsibility, and my teaching philosophy centers around that. Whenever I engage with a student, I consider myself a teacher, whether that engagement is in the classroom, during office hours, a mentor meeting, traveling abroad, or sharing a meal. My teaching philosophy is to create spaces where my students and I are learning partners, and we can learn and grow.”

In turn, students trust her, whether they are graduate students or students from the Posse Foundation, for which she was a faculty mentor. The Posse Foundation program provides scholarships to a group of disadvantaged students and provides resources for all four years.

Roberts’ Accounting courses attract a range of students from majors in the Commerce School to non-business students. Dean Nicole Thorne Jenkins and Associate Professor Adam Koch, who nominated her, said she is approachable and adapts to different learning strengths. For example, she gives untimed exams that emphasize learning the material rather than speed.

When the pandemic forced online and hybrid instruction, “she was at the forefront of our school in experimenting with online options” and increased her office hours to be more available, her nominators said, inspiring her colleagues to do the same.

Read more about all of the award recipients in the original UVA Today story, first published May 11, 2022.

 

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