Since 1999, the Williams Fund has recognized exceptional teachers and innovative ideas with Williams fellowships and instructional project funding. Recipients have demonstrated a commitment to undergraduate education by challenging thier students academically, creating an engaged learning environment, striving to improve the learning process, and fostering interdepartmental collaboration.
For the list of the 2016-17 recipients, please see the current recipients page.
Steve Fickas , Professor of Computer and Information Sciences, 2015-16
Computer Science Professor, Steve Fickas is recognized for his extraordinary work creating immersive and hands-on classes. To teach students about the increasingly important Internet of Things, he created a miniature smart factory floor using cheap computer cards to run self-driving cars, allowing students to physically engage with the subject. Department head Joe Sventek, in his nomination letter, quoted one student from the class who said, “I love this course to my core. This is the way all college courses should be taught.” Fickas also developed a new data science curriculum for non-computer science majors. Data capture and analysis is becoming a big aspect of many fields outside computer science, and Fickas is helping nonmajors learn how to look at and use Big Data in ways that expand their skills and boost their job prospects.
John Halliwill , Professor of Human Physiology, 2015-16
Professor John Halliwill has been a key player in the development of pre-medical/pre-allied health education on this campus as he served as the Director of Curriculum for the Department of Human Physiology. Leading a curricular reform process, Professor Halliwill brought his educational roots in basic sciences and evidence-based research training in medical schools to a process that resulted in an integrative physiology curriculum that employs problem based, evidence based, and hands-on based teaching approaches to promote the development of critical thinking skills. He brings in clinicians and medical experts to teach basic general science courses on medical topics aligned with our students interests in health issues. A colleague writes that, “Dr. Halliwill has demonstrated an excellent model to follow of aspect of his performance as he uses his stature as a preeminent biomedical researcher and faculty leader to support undergraduate students in our department and across campus.”
Professor Measelle's research focuses on global health issues. He has done a remarkable job turning his research interests into rich and distinctive learning experiences that generate intellectual enthusiasm in undergraduates at UO. He brings passion, expertise, and innovation to the classroom including in his First-Year Seminars, upper division courses, and the (First-Year Interest Group) FIG he developed "Students Without Borders". Particularly impressive is his emphasis on immersion experiences for students in his classes, including real life simulations of psychological effects and practical experiences at service agencies in the community. Through his health-care related research program in Laos he is able to offer undergraduates unique research and training experiences helping to shape and implement critical health research. In addition, he has been developing new interdisciplinary avenues for undergraduates to become involved in global health. He has been described as having "a highly engaging style of teaching that incorporates contemporary stories and timely issues, using them to draw students in while teaching psychological concepts". A colleague writes, "Professor Measelle seeks to fulfill one of the unique missions of a comprehensive research university: bringing the world of research into the classroom. However, he also takes the classroom out into the world".
Frances White , Professor of Anthropology and Department Head, 2014-15
Professor White is an internationally known scholar of social relations, gender, mating patterns, and sociality among non-human primates, particularly bonobos, and uses this research excellence to advance undergraduate teaching and education. She is an energetic and engaging lecturer and her popularity and effectiveness as a teacher is reflected in many ways, including that her large undergraduate classes fill to capacity whenever they are taught. She is involved in undergraduate education in an astounding number of ways, ranging from teaching a popular FIG course to interdepartmental curriculum development to campus leadership through her committee work. She has worked hard to develop creative learning strategies that maximize the interest and learning of her students. In particular, her impressive use of laboratory materials and exercises to supplement her lectures emphasize the development of critical thinking and the creativity of explanations in science. Her evaluations reflect her thoughtful commitment to pedagogical rigor. As one student writes "She is a brilliant professor and a dedicated mentor, constantly striving to advance the sciences and young minds' interest in them."
Bonnie Mann - Associate Professor of Philosophy, 2013-2014
Professor Mann is an engaged and productive researcher in the field of feminist philosophy. The high caliber of the content of her courses and her innovative pedagogy are inspired by feminist principles of transparency, student visibility, and active engagement. Her teaching exemplifies the kind of fresh thinking and innovative pedagogy that both challenges and inspires, and her courses including Love and Sex and Feminist Philosophy have transformed the lives of our students and the culture of our campus for the past decade. Professor Mann's great success is her ability to cultivate a forum for thoughtful reflection on issues that speaks directly to students' experiences and engages them as complete human beings. As one student writes, "Professor Mann is a wonderful professor. Her lectures are interesting and interactive. I learned so much in this course that I will carry with me throughout life." Another student writes, "This is the best class I have ever taken at the UO, and probably the best I will ever take. It has taught me to critically examine the way my relationships are, and the way I am in my relationships."
Michael Stern - Associate Professor of Scandinavian, 2013-2014
Professor Stern teaches courses in the German and Scandinavian department and the Humanities program, as well as FIGs and the College Scholars program. He is guided by a teaching approach that is student-centered, and students appreciate his interest in their ideas as well as the intellectual rigor he demands from them. He has been described as "going the extra mile outside the classroom as a teacher, advisor and mentor because he believes that relationships are the key to effective teaching". A student describes Professor Stern's dynamic lecture style, "I found Stern to be a gifted orator, whose passion and energy shine through with each and every lecture. Not only is he able to bring the subject matter to life, but he is able to infuse it with complex ideas in a manner that fosters student engagement."
Josh Snodgrass - Department of Anthropology, 2012-2013
The Williams Council and the President of the University have named Professor Josh Snodgrass, Anthropology, as the 2012-2013 Williams Fellow. Reflecting his outstanding teaching, his support for undergraduate students and his service to the University’s undergraduate program, this Fellowship honors Professor Snodgrass and his unsurpassed contributions to teaching and learning.
Deborah Green - Religous Studies, 2011-2012
Green, the UO’s Greenberg Associate Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, has been described as having the traits of a Williams Fellow: she is a remarkably dedicated teacher who encourages students to learn beyond what they thought possible.
She has shown tremendous range and quality of engagement throughout her work in course and curricular development, GTF and TA supervision, student advising and mentoring, thesis advising and guest lecturing across the UO curriculum.
As a student said of Green, “You taught me how to learn … and how to enjoy it.” She uses the classroom to share her deep interests in the history, literature and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.
Richard Taylor - Department of Physics, 2010-2011
Innovation, fresh thinking and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching mark the qualities Professor Richard Taylor bring to his teaching – all qualities held by Williams Fellows.
With dual backgrounds in science and art, Professor Taylor offers students a clear understanding of the connections between physical phenomena, perception and the experience of art. Through the lens of these two disciplines, he has taught what students call “one of the most fascinating classes taken that year.”
Popular, but not easy, his classes are inspired by an enthusiasm and informed by deep knowledge that provokes thought and creativity, a necessary quality in all areas of learning.
Watch "A Couple Minutes with Richard Taylor" from Inside Oregon, October 2011.
Lisa Freinkel - Department of English, 2010-2011
Combining such topics as Shakespeare and Zen, Immanuel Kant and a 13th-century Japanese monk, Professor Freinkel brings a unique academic approach to her teaching, with a particular focus on undergraduate learning.
As a way of providing ambitious undergraduate Comparative Literature students with an enhanced learning experience, she devised the NOMAD Mentorship Program, aimed at the creation of an intellectual “hearth” where students could hone their skills in a context of convivial and collegial scholarly exchange.
With such yearly topics as The Keanu Reeves Film Series and The Undead, she has piqued the imaginations of her students – and achieved those qualities found in a Williams Fellow.
Brendan Bohannan, Department of Biology, 2009-2010
Associate Professor Brendan Bohannan combines the teaching of classes that explore the diversity of life with research that looks at the causes and consequences at that biodiversity on a microbal level. Bringing that research to the classroom, thus enabling students on the undergraduate levels to engage in that research have made his classes some of the most meaningful and popular with his students. Students have consistently rated his teaching, organization, and availability at the highest levels. Motivating, yet demanding excellence, he stands out as a teacher who has raised the standard of undergraduate education at the University of Oregon.
John Nicols, Department of History, 2009-2010
Teaching for nearly three decades in Humanities, History, Classics and Honors College, Professor John Nicols continues to teach the first quarter of the introductory Western Civilization course – a course that his tenure and standing could excuse him from – with enthusiasm and originality. Drawing consistently positive student evaluations for his teaching, he also spends time and energy securing grants, working to improve large-class formats, and encouraging the use of new media in Classics, History and the Humanities. He has combined these qualities in ways that significantly improve the level of undergraduate education at the University of Oregon.
Kenneth Doxsee, Department of Chemistry, 2008-2009
Professor Kenneth Doxsee is known for his remarkable commitment to undergraduate teaching and his excellence at that craft. His students comment on his enthusiasm and his love of his subject. Further, with his distinguished colleague, Dr. James E. Hutchison, Professor Doxsee has been instrumental in rejuvenating the university’s organic chemistry laboratory courses and giving these courses national prominence as pioneering efforts in green chemistry education.
Sarah Hodges, Department of Psychology, 2008-2009
Described as a brilliant instructor with a gift for communicating the intellectual excitement of psychology in a stimulating, informative and scholarly manner, Professor Sarah Hodges combines classic studies with discussion of contemporary issues. Her excellence as a researcher in the field of empathy and the ways people are able to understand the emotional experiences of others benefit directly her undergraduate teaching as she supervises undergraduates in her lab and communicates her love for psychology to those just approaching the discipline for the first time.
Daniel Dugger, Department of Mathematics, 2007-2008
Dan Dugger brings to teaching the same enthusiasm he gives to his research interests – algebraic topology, K-theory, and commutative algebra. His ability to communicate the intricacies of statistics and probability or differential equations both to math majors and to those merely filling requirements is a gift appreciated and respected by his students.
Janet Hodder, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, 2007-2008
Janet Hodder manages to excel in two areas, as associate professor of biology and as academic coordinator of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. While her research interests range from the ecology of marine birds and mammals to the biological consequences of introduced species, her gifts also lie in helping undergraduate students explore their scientific interests in learning experiences that, they report, are highlights of their university careers.
Scott Pratt, Department of Philosophy, 2007-2008
Scott Pratt’s teaching and research combine Native American worldviews with
those of the European American philosophical traditions, emphasizing pluralism and its implications for cultural differences in the twenty-first century. From logic to the philosophy of music, from multiple worldviews to the interpretation of communities, Scott Pratt brings to his teaching a richness of intellect as well as a recognized ability to communicate that textured richness to his students, philosophy majors and nonmajors alike.
Robert Davis, Romance Languages, 2006-2007
As director of the UO Spanish Language Program for more than 10 years, Professor Robert Davis’ impact in teaching, teacher training and the development of teaching materials has made a lasting impact on thousands of students, GTFs and instructors. His restructuring of lower division Spanish courses has resulted in proficiency gains, lowered grade inflation and increased student accountability and motivation in the learning process. His tremendous energy and intellectual curiosity foster collaboration both within the department and across the campus. As a teacher and scholar, leader and innovator, he continually offers new initiatives, an expansion of offerings and a constant reassessment of “the way we’ve always done it.”
Tom Bivins, Journalism, 2005-2006
A tenured professor since 1985, Tom Bivins has a long history of experience with undergraduate education, leading the public relations program in the School of Journalism and maintaining the highest standards, even in mass-lecture classes. Known by his students as a compassionate yet rigorous instructor, he has been instrumental in turning the school’s small ethics offerings into a series of courses that have drawn national and international attention.
With interest and energy being put into developing interactive course modules to better serve his students, he also is working with the UO’s Philosophy Department and Business School to develop further courses in professional ethics.
Karen Ford, English, 2005-2006
Selfless dedication to her students, to the campus community and to the profession at large, mark the teaching career of Karen Ford. At the University of Oregon since 1992, Professor Ford brings to her teaching a passion for poetry, an ability to patiently and supportively draw out students’ ideas, and a desire to help students develop their abilities as writers in order to engage in the exploration of ideas.
In the classroom and through leadership activities designed to improve the undergraduate curriculum, she has, among other accomplishments, expanded undergraduate offerings to include a series of courses in ethnic literatures, comparative ethnic literatures, and developed a plan to create a visiting professorship in ethnic literature.
Her dedication to teaching, says her department head, “is legendary,” and the legend lives up to itself through the daily creativity and attention she offers to her students.
A full-time employee of the University of Oregon since 1991, Peter Wetherwax teaches a wide range of courses, from lower level non-major courses to upper level ones of his own design. One of his most popular classes, which will be offered for the fourth time this year, is a Neo Tropic Ecology class set in Ecuador. Students who return from this class (as most do) refer to it as a life-changing experience.
Students consistently rate his courses and his teaching high, which is remarkable because of the high standards and demands he makes of them. Many, however, state that he is the best instructor they have had at the University of Oregon. He also has worked on programs with middle and high school teachers, helping them to become more effective in their efforts to educate. He is acknowledged as an exceptional teacher by his colleagues, who commend the innovative and creative techniques he uses to engage his students in actively learning new materials.
Jon Brundan, Math, 2003-2004
At the University of Oregon since 1997, Jon Brundan previously recieved the UO's Ersted Award for excellence in teaching. Brundan's work in algebraic representation theory is recognized as a major contribution to the field by fellow mathematicians and his teaching is praised by students - who consistently reward him with glowing evaluations.
Brundan used his Williams fellowship to purchase two new Macintosh computers - a desktop model for his office and a laptop that connects to the overhead projectors in several of the classrooms in Deady Hall. Brundan hopes to eventually use the computer program Mathematica to sketch graphs and 3D surfaces interactively in class.
The remainder of his funding was used for course development, primarily to free up time to investigate changes to the math 105/106 sequence, a course favored by non-science majors.
Daniel Falk, Religious Studies, 2003-2004
An expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Daniel Falk's research focuses on early Judaism and early Christianity. Falk is consistently praised as a devoted, innovative and entertaining instructor.
Falk has used some of the funds connected with the Williams Fellowship to purchase a large collection of high-resolution digital images related to his teaching (the Bible, early Judaism, early Christianity). The collection comprises more than 6000 images of the Middle East and the Mediterranean area, including archeological remains, artifacts, geography, and aerial views. The collection comes with generous copyright permission, so Falk has been able to include hundreds of these images on web-sites for his courses and in Powerpoint presentations in his classes.
His remaining Williams funds will be used on two projects:
1. Falk plans to invest in a sophisticated atlas and virtual fly-over program based on satellite photographs for use in classroom instruction. This program allows one to walk/fly through a specified route in 3-D geography (e.g., a battle scene) which can be projected. There are related projects in development which give very detailed 3-D reconstructions of specific ancient cities (e.g., Jerusalem, Qumran) that can be explored in real time. Falk hopes that he will be able to purchase some of these programs for classroom use when they become commercially available.
2. Falk has developed a large web site (over 200 pages) for one of his courses -REL 222 Early Judaism. The site contains all the primary texts used for the course as well as many images; the web site is the basis of the core readings for the course and also for classroom presentations (internet connection and projection). Falk hopes to refine this web site considerably, both in terms of content and presentation, and has had interest expressed in developing this as a commercially-available course resource. This would require an enormous amount of work, for which he would like to hire some student help. Falk is currently discussing with colleagues how best to improve this material.
Dave Dusseau, Business, 2001-2002
Dave Dusseau has been associated with the University of Oregon in teaching positions since 1984, and currently is the Donald A.Tykeson Senior Instructor of Business at the Lundquist College of Business.
"At the time I received the Williams Award, I was teaching eight sections of BA101- Introduction to Business - to about 1,800 students a year," says Dusseau.
"The central problem of my teaching was to make a connection with a very large number of students. Because I couldn't do it one-on-one, I had to connect through the structure of the course. The size of the enrollment dictated a 'lecture' format. However, a lecture is not an active educational experience and is largely irrelevant in the context of life-long learning. Advancements in instructional technologies should have provided alternatives, but I was using them to support an ineffective course structure."
"I received (and framed) a student evaluation that read, 'I had your course before. You were boring. Now you have a web site and use PowerPoint. Now you are electronically boring. Congratulations... and they say there is no such thing as progress.'
"Receiving the Williams Award inspired me to take a fundamentally different approach to my job. I redesigned the course around a computerized business simulation that was not designed for an introductory course. I organized students into groups. (In the first term, I had about 1,200 students in 336 groups.) Instead of a text, information was scattered between five different sources. Instead of lecturing, I gave students questions to answer and problems to solve every class meeting. Instead of two exams, evaluations were based on in-class quizzes, performance on the simulation, written assignments and exams. Instead of reading about business, students were running their own companies.
"For the first year or so, it was a chaotic mess. I didn't really know how anything would work and a lot of things didn't work very well. But it was fun. And it was a significant improvement over what I had been doing. The students learned. I learned. Things got better. Enrollment in the course has grown every year. "
Jon Erlandson, Anthropology, 2000-2001
At the UO since 1990, Jon Erlandson specializes in the archeology of western North America, with a focus on Pacific Coast cultures and the role of the sea in human history. Erlandson is a Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and also received the Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2000.
Erlandson used a portion of his Williams funds to pay a Native American graduate student a summer stipend to prepare an undergraduate class in the Department of Anthropology's Participatory Learning Experience program. Beginning in 2000, undergraduate interns learned archival research methods in anthropology by working with Knight Library staff members to index roughly 50,000 pages of historical documents on western Oregon Indian tribes. The materials, collected during the nationally-recognized Southwest Oregon Research Program, are being integrated into the Oregon section of Special Collections where they are contributing to a variety of research projects by UO undergraduate and graduate students.
Erlandson used additional Williams funds to support undergraduate students working to digitize a large collection of slides related to the teaching of archaeology classes. The digitized images have been used in transforming the popular "Introduction to Archaeology" class to a completely electronic PowerPoint format.
Finally, Williams funds help pay for graduate student and faculty research related to the development of an undergraduate class called "Human Impacts on Ancient Environments," which Erlandson hopes to teach in coming years.
Leon Johnson, Art, 2000-2001
Leon Johnson has also been recognized with the UO's Ersted Award in 1998.
For Leon Johnson, the Williams Fellowship provided critical support for the documentation of the United Kingdon summer tour of his intermedia production of "Faust/Faustus: A Duet for Devils." The fellowship funds enabled him to secure a digital video camera and support equipment needed to edit a feature-length film he entered into several film festivals starting with the Northwest Film Festival in August. Johnson is making that equipment available for student film productions.
The Williams funds that went to the department were used to create a year-long visiting artist program (The Williams Lecture Series) aimed at undergraduate audiences. Johnson notes that "we have been without a visiting artist program since the funding cuts of Measure 5. Visiting artists contribute richly to the educational experience on campus - and now we have one! Students are involved at many levels including the designing of publicity materials and hosting class visits for the visitors where student work is reviewed."
Madonna Moss, Anthropology, 2000-2001
Madonna Moss, an anthropological archaeologist, aims to incorporate and synthesize various types of information to study the human past. The range of her work illustrates the holistic way in which she brings together ethnographic, ethnohistorical, and ecological sources to expand understanding of the archaeological record. The geographic focus of her research is the Northwest Coast of North America, extending from southeast Alaska through British Columbia into the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Moss was recognized with the UO's Thomas F. Herman Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2000. She has been at the UO since 1990.
Moss used Williams Council support to revitalize ANTH 150, Introduction to Archaeology, borrowing some ideas from Jennifer Freyd's innovations in course development (also supported by the council). In the future, she hopes to use Williams funding to institute a capstone experience that takes upper-division anthropology majors with special interest in archaeology through the full range of stages in archaeological research. This also involves collaboration with Indian tribes in western Oregon who have specific needs in archaeological resource and heritage management.
Deborah Exton, Chemistry, 2001-2002
A senior instructor at the University of Oregon since 1993, Dr. Exton has focused much of her work on undergraduate teaching. This includes the development of a highly successful peer-assistance-program called SUPeR Chemistry, for which she was granted a Williams Award in 1997-98 and again in 1998-99.
Says Exton, "I face my greatest challenges in the large, introductory-level General Chemistry courses, which I have taught every year that I have been at the University of Oregon. General Chemistry is a service course, enrolling students with a broad range of backgrounds, learning styles, and interests.
"Student demographics change every year, but one thing is a constant - the percentage of chemistry majors in the course is very low. Therefore, rather than teaching a course which addresses the educational needs of chemistry majors, I am challenged to make chemistry interesting and relevant to all of the students and to instill an interest in learning, rather than merely achieving. My challenge is to assist students in acquiring the thinking and methodological skills necessary for a lifetime of learning.
"This award means that I will have the opportunity to work on some projects and pursue goals that I haven't been able to accomplish until now."
Time, Exton says, is her biggest need, so a portion of the award went toward acquiring some release time winter term so she could work on course development, curriculum changes, and laboratory development.