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 his history of the long and costly war between Athens and Sparta, the historian Thucydides explained that he had written his narrative to be “a possession for all time” and to be of assistance to those of future generations “who want to see things clearly as they were and, given human nature, as they will one day be again, more or less."1 Thucydides was a shrewd observer and analyst of human behavior, and his work has frequently been cited in times of crisis by those who see patterns in history.  At the famous ceremony dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863 at which Lincoln also spoke, former Secretary of State Edward Everett delivered a eulogy

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/03/2020 - 8:10am by .

As we all contend with the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I want to start by highlighting a gratifying fact: the indispensable expert and voice of reason, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, majored in Classics as an undergraduate at Holy Cross!  This is a timely and inspiring reminder that Classics majors go on to distinguish themselves in many different careers and to perform many kinds of vital service.

I also want to emphasize that, despite the ongoing crisis, the SCS is fully up-and-running. Our three fulltime staff members, Helen Cullyer, Cherane Ali, and Erik Shell, have made a seamless transition to working remotely, thanks to careful advance planning on their part. They are maintaining regular business hours even as they work remotely, and are available to help our members however they can.

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Sun, 03/29/2020 - 2:22pm by Helen Cullyer.

­­The 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. In this post we focus on projects that bring creativity and science into the Classics classrooms of secondary schools from California to Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/27/2020 - 6:25am by .

The SCS Board of Directors has endorsed a statement by the American Sociological Association on faculty review and reappointment during COVID-19.

Read the statement and full list of signatories at this link

https://www.asanet.org/news-events/asa-news/asa-statement-regarding-faculty-review-and-reappointment-processes-during-covid-19-crisis

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Mon, 03/23/2020 - 4:26pm by Helen Cullyer.

As the pandemic known as COVID-19 grips the globe, thousands of instructors in the United States and elsewhere have been asked to transition their courses online for the remainder of the semester. To some instructors, such as the superb Classics professors at the Open University, distance learning has become a normalized pedagogy. To many others facing teaching online: this is uncharted territory.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 8:43am by Sarah E. Bond.

Please see the following on access to digital resources during COVID-19:

1. The digital Classical Loeb Library recently announced that it is making its subscription free to all schools and universities affected by COVID-19 until June 30, 2020. Librarians should email loebclassics_sales@harvard.edu for more details. In addition, SCS members can access the library for free until June 30, 2020 via the For Members Only page of our website. Log on to https://classicalstudies.org and access the For Members only page via our Membership menu. 

2. Johns Hopkins University Press and a number of publishers that contribute content to Project Muse are making books and journals freely accessible for several months. JHUP journals include AJP, TAPA, and CW. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 9:03am by Helen Cullyer.

Results and materials from the Classics tuning project we've mentioned in prior newsletters are now available publicly. See the below press release from the project's authors for full details:

THE ACM CLASSICS TUNING PROJECT: REPOSITORY OF MATERIALS

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 03/18/2020 - 11:02am by Erik Shell.

We're proud to announce the digital publication of "Careers for Classicists: Undergraduate Edition." This work is a completely new version of our previous "Careers for Classicists" pamphlet, providing the latest insights on how undergraduate classics majors can best prepare for jobs in a variety of fields.

You can read this newest publication in our online book format here: https://classicalstudies.org/careers-classicists-undergraduate-edition

We'd like to thank Adriana Brook, Eric Dugdale, and John Gruber-Miller for doing so much work in putting this volume together. The print version of "Careers" will be available in a few months, and will be one of several benefit choices for departmental membership.

And, in case you missed it, you can read the Graduate Student version of this publication here: https://classicalstudies.org/careers-classicists-graduate-student-edition

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/16/2020 - 12:51pm by Erik Shell.
We realize that this is a time of unprecedented turmoil, disruption, and challenge in all our personal and professional lives. SCS is delaying deadlines for 2021 annual meeting program submission in the hope that some extra time will be helpful to anyone planning to submit. The new deadlines are:
 
- April 21 (by 11.59pm EDT) for all submissions other than individual abstracts and lightning talks
- April 28 (by 11.59pm EDT) for all individual abstracts and lightning talks
 
As circumstances change, we will continue to adapt. While it is too early to say what effect COVID-19 will have on our annual meeting in January 2021, we will adjust as necessary and provide an annual meeting in some form. 
 
View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 03/15/2020 - 4:26pm by Helen Cullyer.

Here is a modest aggregation of some helpful links and resources that link out to other resources. Thanks to all who have shared their wisdom online:

https://classicalstudies.org/about/so-you-have-teach-online-now

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 03/15/2020 - 9:51am by Helen Cullyer.

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