SCS 2018 Collegiate Teaching Award Citations

The SCS Teaching Excellence Awards Committee is delighted to announce the 2018 Awards for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.

Please join us in congratulating these excellent educators.

Monessa Cummins, Grinnell College

Monessa Cummins has taught at Grinnell College for nearly thirty-five years, and she has taught almost every course offered by her department, from her original expertise in Greek poetry to Greek and Roman history and archaeology and art and Latin and Greek, to study abroad in Greece.  This is a reality for many who teach at small institutions, as is the prevalence of unrecorded overloads with individual students or small groups. But Dr. Cummins, according to both students and faculty colleagues, does all of this, and does it extraordinarily well.  Everyone speaks of her high standards, but also of the riveting way she conducts her classes, such that, to quote her nomination letter, “the students are all on and with her the whole time”: no internet in the back row here!  She incorporates a variety of newer pedagogies into her classroom, while also grounding students in the basics, not just of Classics: in lecture courses, one student is assigned to be the “recorder” for each session, and that student reviews the material for two minutes at the start of the following class meeting.  So too, one letter reports, students who have no interest in the Classical world sign up for her classes because they know it will – she will – make them better writers. 

Dr. Cummins is also, just as clearly, a role model to her students outside of the classroom.  Student letters abound with stories of her humanity, her caring attitude, and her strictness.  It goes without saying that at a place like Grinnell a teacher like Dr. Cummins is legendary: while the college does not offer teaching awards, there is a lively grapevine that has students seeking her out from their very first semester, and adding Classics as a major, either in addition to what they thought they were going to study in college, or instead of it.  One of her faculty colleagues calls her teaching “challenging, effective, and inspiring,” and this committee agrees. 

The rethinking of curriculum is of course not the kind of thing students necessarily even know about, but the letters from her faculty and administrative colleagues attest to Dr. Cummins’ hard work and achievements in this area as well.  Like many institutions, big and small, Grinnell’s classics department has created a civilization-based track, and she led the department in a reassessment and redesign process that, according to one colleague, resulted in “harmonizing our individual goals and pedagogies,” and in the creation of multidisciplinary courses that play to her particular strengths, and with subject matter that varies from the Trojan War to the debates around cultural patrimony.  

We are honored to recognize Professor Monessa Cummins for her devotion to teaching with the SCS’s 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.

Mike Lippman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Imagine how students react on the first day of a class on Athens, when their professor tells them that, in the radical democracy of this class, they will be expected to decide how the required material will be considered, how the class will run, how their progress will be assessed, and that they will have to argue for and vote on any change. Mid-semester may find them begging for a tyrant, while struggling with the untidy realities of a truly democratic society. Or consider a class on Sparta, in which students are immediately divided into messes, which will not only work together but receive both reward and punishment for the behavior of individual members. Or a class on ancient athletics in which extra credit is earned through competition with a classmate: push-ups or footraces, songwriting or painting, all are fair game. This kind of experiential learning is a hallmark of Dr. Mike Lippman’s approach to the classroom, and his students eat it up! One student remarks that the Sparta course “put [her] in a position of leadership among [her] peers, forced [her] to make hard choices, and caused [her] to think and exist outside of [her] comfort zone,” exactly the aims of a liberal arts education. Cicero would be pleased.

Dr. Lippman’s innovative pedagogy compels profound, personal, and critical engagement among his students. One of his colleagues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln comments on his “Pied-Piper-like ability to bring students into our department.” Indeed, since his arrival the number of majors has doubled. And it is not just Classics enrollments that have benefitted from his consummate teaching skills. Beginning Greek enrollments have tripled, and Dr. Lippman is now teaching the first upper level Greek classes offered at UNL in years, often creating these courses in response to specific student interests. The devotion he commands among his students is no better illustrated than by the final comment on one course evaluation: “I just want him to be proud of me.”

But his passion for the Classics is not restricted to the classroom. Since his arrival at UNL, Dr. Lippman has instituted and supported a thriving Classics Club, which among other activities, stages an annual ancient battle reenactment attended by hundreds of students and faculty. He has also organized the Homerathon, a 24-hour reading marathon. Last year, it was Stanley Lombardo’s translation of the Iliad, and readers included students, faculty, staff, a city councilor, and ... Stanley Lombardo! This fostering of community is critical to the future of Humanities in general and Classics in particular, and it takes determination and charisma to make it work. One of his colleagues calls him a “force of nature,” and we heartily agree.

We are honored to recognize Professor Mike Lippman for his outstanding teaching with the SCS’s 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.

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(Photo: "library" by Viva Vivanista, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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In light of the present administration’s brazen disregard for facts and the public good, you’ve got to admire past leaders’ nonpartisan concern to preserve knowledge for the future. 

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 07/10/2020 - 9:04am by Nandini Pandey.

The SCS Board has joined many other scholarly societies in endorsing this letter imploring the federal government to "reinstate the temporary visa exemptions for international students and faculty members while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including at least the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters."

You can read more at the link above.

If you want to take action, please consult the National Humanities Alliance's action alert on the issue here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 6:46am by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers

February 27th, 2021

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

Fourth University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium

The mythology of different cultures has left a lasting impression on societies across the globe, from the Ancient Greek tragic tradition to 21st-century American superhero movies and brand names. Permeating the world of economics, politics, literature, and entertainment, the enduring quality of mythology hearkens back to the human desire to justify the esoteric and to explain the unknown. In our world of scientific and technological advancements, what place does mythology still hold? We seek to answer that question by gaining insight into the significance of myth in multiple cultures and communities around the world.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:33am by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers

The Fourteenth Conference on Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World will take place in Jerusalem (Israel) from Sunday 20 June 2021 to Wednesday 23 June 2021. Classicists, historians, students of comparative religion, the Hebrew Bible, early Christian and Rabbinic traditions, as well as scholars in other fields with an interest in oral cultures are cordially invited.

The conference will follow the same format as the previous conferences, held in Hobart (1994), Durban (1996), Wellington (1998), Columbia, Missouri (2000), Melbourne (2002), Winnipeg (2004), Auckland (2006), Nijmegen (2008), Canberra (2010), Ann Arbor (2012), Atlanta (2014), Lausanne (2016), and Austin TX (2019). It is planned that the refereed proceedings once again be published by E.J. Brill in the “Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World” series.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 7:28am by Erik Shell.

Body and Medicine in Latin Poetry’, which will take place online on the 17th and 18th September 2020. 

The ongoing epidemic crisis brought forth by the spread of Covid-19 compels us to rethink the concepts of body and disease in light of  their effect on human nature, as well as seek new methods to cope with the sense of anxiety and vulnerability generated by such pandemic diseases. 

This conference will navigate the relationship between Medical Science and Humanities in Antiquity, with papers exploring how medicine can be integrated into poetry and how poetry, in turn, can propagate medical knowledge across various social classes and cultural contexts. Further to that, the conference will explore the extent to which such a relationship reflects our individual concerns about the validity and consistence of medicine as a science of the Human.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 07/06/2020 - 5:57am by Erik Shell.

Finishing my third trimester in the midst of a pandemic was not what I had planned for the last months of pregnancy. Since the Ides of March, we have sequestered ourselves in our house in Iowa City and cancelled any and all social gatherings––including the planned baby shower––as has almost everyone else across the globe. Although I lamented not being able to celebrate with family and friends in person, every day it seemed, small book-shaped cardboard boxes began to populate the front stoop. Their opening revealed that our academic friends had sent us their favorite books in hopes that reading to our little one might bring comfort, amusement, and maybe a little sleep into our lives. As her library began to grow with the reading selections of our fellow classicists, archaeologists, and university librarians, the broad selection of children’s books focused on the ancient Mediterranean became apparent.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 9:28am by Sarah E. Bond.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. This post centers on projects that promote emotional well-being and use Greek texts to facilitate conversations on current social justice issues, from New York to Chicago and San Francisco.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/26/2020 - 7:31am by .

Dear members (and past Annual Meeting participants),

After extensive research and discussion, AIA and SCS staff and officers have decided that the January 2021 Joint Annual Meeting scheduled to take place from January 7-10 in Chicago will now be a virtual event. We know that many of you were looking forward to attending paper sessions and other events, to seeing old friends and colleagues, and to making new connections and we recognize that a virtual event cannot substitute in many ways for a face-to-face experience. However, after full consideration of the public health risks and significant impact of COVID-19 on the ability of most of you to travel to and participate in a large conference in the upcoming months, AIA and SCS have decided that a virtual event is the most prudent course.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 06/25/2020 - 7:13am by Helen Cullyer.

In 2018, a group of scholars founded Mountaintop Coalition, an SCS-affiliated group with a shared interest in advancing the professional goals of Classicists who identify as members of ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in the field. Mountaintop’s activities focus on practical issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in professional settings.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:30am by Samuel Ortencio Flores.

Froma I. Zeitlin retired from Princeton University in 2010, where she was the Charles Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature in the Department of Classics and Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature. Dr. Zeitlin received her B.A. from Radcliffe-Harvard in 1954 and her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970. She is a specialist in Greek literature from Homer to late antiquity, with particular interests in epic, drama and prose fiction. Her publications include Under the Sign of the Shield: Semiotics and Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes (1982; 2d ed.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/12/2020 - 8:50am by Claire Catenaccio.

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