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Brotman Awards Honor Undergraduate Education

Two UW units were recognized for their contributions to education and to diversity as the Office of Minority Affairs Instructional Center and the Interdisciplinary Writing Program collectively won three 2001 Brotman Awards, including the inaugural Brotman Diversity Award.

Named after UW Regent Jeffrey Brotman, '64, '67, and his wife, Susan, the Brotman Instructional Excellence Award recognizes collaboration within and among departments and programs to improve the quality of undergraduate education. This year's winners receive $17,500. The new $35,000 Brotman Diversity Award recognizes outstanding programs that advance diversity in the UW community.

(The instructors) combine their skills, artistry and expertise as teachers with a gift for maintaining a center that is a warm and friendly refuge from the hugeness of the University.

The Minority Affairs Instructional Center won both a Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence and the new Brotman Diversity Award. The Interdisciplinary Writing Program won a Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence.

The Minority Affairs Instructional Center was founded in 1976 to support an influx of African American, American Indian, Chicano and Latino students. With a staff that has grown to 16 professional instructors and up to 100 student tutors, this unit has witnessed many changes through its 25 years, such as the opening of resources to all students.

While minority and disadvantaged students are not required to use the center, officials say they see more than 40,000 student visits annually. "(The instructors) combine their skills, artistry and expertise as teachers with a gift for maintaining a center that is a warm and friendly refuge from the hugeness of the University," wrote former Vice President for Minority Affairs Myron Apilado, in a letter supporting the center's bid for the Brotman.

For 24 years, Interdisciplinary Writing Program faculty and TAs have been helping undergraduates improve their writing skills with a unique approach that pairs a lecture class with an analytical writing course. Known as the biggest and oldest linked-course program in the U.S., it forces students to think in depth about a particularly relevant lecture subject.

For example, a student in a Psychology 101 lecture course takes a linked English course. The English course requires several analytical writing assignments that focus on specific ideas covered in the psychology lectures.

Director Joan Graham says the program is labor-intensive but also rewarding, while most students find that linking two courses enhances learning in both. "In the course of the last three months, I have read more, written more, and thought more than any one quarter in my three-year existence at the 'U,'" wrote one student in the nomination process. "My critical thinking has sharpened through reading material that matters to me, and then writing about it in a manner that forced me to think."


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