Former Instructor of the Year
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR, 2021-2022 Heading link
Dr. Ralph Keen
Dean of the Honors College and Professor of History
The Instructor of the Year award is given annually to one of the many faculty members who teach our first-year Honors Core courses as well as our Honors Seminars for upperclassmen. This year’s Instructor of the Year is our very own Dr. Ralph Keen, Dean of the Honors College and Professor of History.
Dean Keen was a classics major as an undergraduate and received his PhD in the history of Christianity. Before he came to UIC in 2010 as professor of history and Schmitt Chair in Catholic Studies, he taught in the Religious Studies department at the University of Iowa, where he was also Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor (as well as supervisor of dozens of senior research projects). He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School.
During his tenure as Dean of the Honors College since 2015, Dean Keen has remained committed to bringing his enthusiasm for teaching to the Honors College classroom. In his Honors course The Uncommon Good: Social Thought in a Diverse Society, he has guided his students through diverse interpretations and critiques of the idea that a society is shaped by shared values. His nominator Mahnoor Baig credits his course with helping her to think more critically about even the more well-known texts. She says, “He went above and beyond in each class discussion to [ensure his students] comprehend the point that the author was trying to get across and always encouraged us to ponder on potential shortfalls and problems within the text itself.” She concludes, “While I may leave this class with a good understanding of the texts we read, this class also [encouraged] me to aspire to improve society for the common good.”
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR, 2020-2021 Heading link
Dr. Anna C. Roosevelt
Professor of Anthropology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
This year’s Instructor of the Year is Dr. Anna C. Roosevelt, Professor of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Professor Roosevelt specializes in two main geographic areas, the Middle Amazon and the Congo Basin. In the Amazon, she works at multiple sites, including those in Paraguay and Brazil. Professor Roosevelt’s Congo Basin research is in Bayanga in the southwestern Central African Republic, and in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo. She currently directs the Lower Amazon Project in Brazil and the Congo Basin Project in Africa.
An Honors College Fellow, Professor Roosevelt developed and regularly teaches two Honors Core courses related to her research: HON 125 Rwandan Genocide Reinterpreted and Revised in its Historical and Global Context, and HON 125 Explaining Conflict in the Congo: From Indigenous Kingdoms to Decolonization and its Aftermath. Honors student Temiloluwa Sodipe, who nominated Roosevelt writes, “I believe that a good teacher is someone who can deliver course content succinctly, but a great teacher is someone who can do that as well as provide students with the skills and experiences necessary to benefit them beyond the classroom, and Professor Roosevelt does just that, and goes beyond.”
Professor Roosevelt’s interests include human ecology and evolution. For 25 years, she has studied long-term human-environmental interaction in the tropics with funding from National Science Foundation, National Endowment for Humanities, Fulbright Commission, and Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the University of Illinois. Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Royal Geographical Society, she was awarded a 5-year MacArthur Fellowship for her interdisciplinary research. She holds the Explorers Medal, Society of Women Geographers’ Gold Medal, Order of Rio Branco and Bettendorf medals (Brazil), and honorary doctorates from Mt. Holyoke and Northeastern University, Boston.
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR, 2019-2020 Heading link
Dr. Evangelos Kobotis
Senior Lecturer, Department of Math, Statistics, and Computer Science
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Instructor of the Year award is given annually to one of the many faculty members who teach our first-year Honors Core courses as well as our Honors Seminars for upperclassmen. This year’s Instructor of the Year is Dr. Evangelos Kobotis, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Math, Statistics, and Computer Science, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Kobotis developed and regularly teaches HON 131 Mathematics Through Time in the Honors College. This popular course is a fascinating mix of reasoning, stories and discussion that traces the development of mathematics through the centuries, with a special emphasis on how different concepts were introduced and were influenced by their historical context. Honors student Anne Serban, who nominated Kobotis, writes, “His passion for the class and the material he teaches is visible and passed on to the students.”
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR, 2018-2019 Heading link
Dr. Jennifer Rupert
Senior Lecturer, Department of English and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Instructor of the Year award is given annually to one of the many faculty members who teach our first-year Honors Core courses as well as our Honors Seminars for upperclassmen. This year’s Instructor of the Year is Dr. Jennifer Rupert, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Rupert’s research and teaching interests include Transatlantic modernism, women’s literature, feminist and queer theory, the history of sexuality, twentieth century visual culture, and contemporary critical media studies and she has also been recognized by her students and the Department of English for outstanding teaching in literary and cultural studies. In 2018, she was a recipient of UIC’s Silver Circle Award for Teaching Excellence.
Professor Rupert teaches undergraduate courses in first-year writing, literary theory and criticism, the history of feminism, gender and sexuality studies, critical media studies, and modernist literature, but she has also developed and taught honors courses for the Honors College for several years. Her course, “From Hip-Hop to Horror: The Sexual and Racial Politics of American Popular Media”, has inspired social and political awareness among her students. Stella describes Dr. Rupert as the most influential professor of her college career – “She challenged our ideas and at the same time encouraged us to form our own thoughts….the class motivated me to obtain a minor in social justice and find ways to engage within the local Chicago community.”
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR, 2017-2018 Heading link
No Instructor of the Year Selected
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR, 2016-2017 Heading link
Clinical Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Health Information Sciences
College of Applied Health Sciences
The Instructor of the Year award is given annually to one of the many faculty members who teach our first-year Honors Core courses as well as our Honors Seminars for upperclassmen. . This year’s Instructor of the Year is Eric Swirsky, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences in the College of Applied Health Sciences. Professor Swirsky teaches on topics including communication skills, professionalism, and ethics. His courses with the Honors College include Honors Seminars entitled, “How We Die: Bioethics and Legal Issues at the End of Life“ and “Every Day Ethics: Maintaining Personal Integrity in Life and Work.”
Professor Swirsky’s nominator, Jonathan Aniciete, had this to say: “Professor Swirsky has taught me many valuable lessons pertaining to the ethical issues that professionals face on a daily basis, particularly in health care…[beyond] the hard sciences and a student’s ability to comprehend and recall tough material, Professor Swirsky’s seminars have taught me that an important aspect to being a physician is being a good person.”