June 2005 -


Departments Honored With Brotman Awards

"Looking back to when I graduated from high school with limited English skills and a 2.2 GPA," writes Marciano Rodriguez, '92, '99, "I do not know that I would have predicted my academic accomplishments." Those include a B.A. in psychology, a B.S. in zoology, and a master's in health services administration. But it is the faculty of the math department that Rodriguez credits with making the most decisive difference, "providing one-on-one tutoring outside the classroom, well beyond midnight."

This is precisely the sort of commitment to student success that the Brotman Awards for Instructional Excellence were created to recognize. Established in 1998 through a gift from UW Regent Jeffrey Brotman, '64, '67, and his wife, Susan, the awards go not to individuals but to programs, departments and groups that excel in the promotion of undergraduate learning. The department of mathematics, whose faculty recently accepted a teaching load increase to support a highly successful reform of its calculus courses, is a sterling example. It and the other two 2005 Brotman Award recipients-the ceramic arts program and the space grant-will be honored at a University-wide recognition ceremony June 9 in Meany Theater.

Ranked third in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, the ceramic arts program in the School of Art is constantly reminding its students of the world beyond the walls of academe. "All ceramics students, from the very beginning level, have the opportunity to meet and talk with professionals in the field, to hear them speak on their work, and to see the work itself," writes Layne Goldsmith, professor and chair of the fiber arts program, in his nominating letter. Several recommenders add that the full-time ceramics facult-Doug Jeck, Akio Takamori, and Jamie Walker-are, themselves, significant figures in the field. Postdoctoral fellow Susie Lee praises the professors for remaining available and attentive to students "even while continuing to create iconic and relevant work."

The Washington NASA Space Grant Program in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences aims to attract the state's most promising math and science students to the UW. According to nominator Ron Irving, divisional dean of natural sciences, the program's many selling points-including its own dorm floor and a dedicated student adviser-"have led high achieving seniors to choose the University of Washington over Ivy League institutions aiming to draw off the most talented recruits from our state." The testimony of former space grant scholars seems to bear this out. "Although I was originally set against attending the University of Washington," writes Peter Norgaard, '04, a 2003 Goldwater scholar, "I believe I have received an excellent education which has changed my future in ways I would never have expected."

Each of the winning academic units will receive $11,500, for use "in any way that improves undergraduate education at the University."