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Three Receive UM College Of Liberal Arts Teaching Honors

Lee Cohen (second from left), dean of the UM College of Liberal Arts, congratulates (from left) Matt Long, Carey Bernini Dowling and Steven Davis on their teaching honors announced Friday. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi recognized three faculty members Friday (May 13) for their excellence in teaching.

The Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year award went to Matt Long, associate professor of art. Steven Davis, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was given the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen. The Liberal Arts Outstanding Instructor of the Year honor was presented to Carey Bernini Dowling, instructional assistant professor of psychology.
The recipients were recognized at the university’s spring faculty meeting and honored Saturday at the university’s 164th Commencement. They each receive a plaque and $1,000, and their names are added to award plaques in the dean’s office.
“The recipients of this year’s outstanding teaching awards join the cadre of past honorees recognized as the best and most accomplished faculty within the University of Mississippi,” said Lee Cohen, dean of liberal arts. “We commend each of them for dedication, excellence and service to our students and their educational pursuits.”
Each recipient reflected upon the meaning of his selection for the prestigious honors.
“Clearly, I was more than flattered to be even nominated for such an award,” said Long, who completed his Master of Fine Arts at Ohio University. “What a wonderful feeling to be told by your colleagues and students that what your doing is worthy of recognition. I am honored!”
Long, who has worked at UM for 12 years, received the University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring last year.
Davis said he is pleased and honored that his students and the college have chosen to recognize his commitment to teaching.
“It is a great honor to be included in the list of awardees,” said Davis, who received his doctorate from the University of Virginia and has been on the UM faculty for 28 years. “I really enjoy working with freshman students as they adjust to college and begin their academic training here.
“Ultimately, I hope my students view my class as gaining skills to be used throughout their careers, not just as a grade to move onto the next class in their majors.”
Winning his teaching award makes Dowling, who joined the faculty five years ago, feel gratified.
“It is difficult to express how much this nomination and award mean to me,” said Dowling, who earned her doctorate from Stony Brook University of State University of New York. “To receive recognition for something I care so deeply about is truly an honor.”
Criteria for Teacher and Instructor of the Year awards include excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare.
Established 30 years ago by Cora Lee Graham of Union City, Tennessee, the Graham award aims to help retain better professors who teach freshman classes in the College of Liberal Arts. Criteria for this annual award also include excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students, and concern for students’ welfare.
Administrators said all the honorees are worthy of the recognition.
“Matt is one of those teachers that makes such an impression, students take one class with him and then change their major,” said Virginia Rougon Chavis, chair and professor of art. “He is one of those teachers who is informative in the classroom and raises the bar without the students realizing they are working.
“He is recognized at the top of his field by his contemporaries with celebrity-like status and is sought after by institutions across the country to have him lecture or give a workshop.”
Greg Tschumper, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said Davis is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated teachers he’s ever worked with.
“He has become one of the department’s most effective instructors for our first-year general chemistry sequence, aka Freshman Chemistry,” Tschumper said.
“This course is the source of much anxiety for many freshman students. Yet Dr. Davis has consistently been able to maintain a perfect balance between maintaining high standards and still making some challenging material very accessible to the university’s newest family members.”
Similar praises for Dowling came from Rebekah Smith, chair and professor of psychology.
“Dr. Dowling provides intellectual challenges and meaningful contributions to supporting student success in the classroom and beyond,” Smith said. “Dr. Dowling is an ideal instructor who takes teaching very seriously and is always exploring ways to build upon her already superior performance.”

By Edwin Smith
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