Best & Brightests  
 



UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"I really believe in all students. I think every single one is here to be as remarkable as they can be, and it's my job to figure out how that works."


Rebecca Aanerud


Rebecca Aanerud started her college career as a musician, earned a doctorate in English, is a member of the Women Studies faculty and also teaches in the College of Education. So maybe the fact that she's been named a winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award has to do with her abilities as a learner. It certainly speaks to her adaptability and to her interest in students -- which is deep and intense.

"I really believe in all students," is how she puts it. "I think every single one is here to be as remarkable as they can be, and it's my job to figure out how that works."

Aanerud's letters of support make it sound like she has figured it out. They call her "insightful and effective," a "role model" and a "superstar travel guide" into course content. But it's almost ironic that she has made higher education her life's work, considering that her first experience of college ended so badly.

"Music was always a pretty clear love for me, from fifth grade on," she says. "I knew I wanted to play French horn professionally; the New York Metropolitan Opera was my target. When I went to the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, things were fine at first, but then they started to fall apart in a number of ways -- ways that I didn't understand at that time were related to issues of gender."

Aanerud found that as a woman she was not taken seriously in music. Then she faced sexual harassment from a faculty member and became severely anorexic, after which she dropped out of school. Her husband, who had earned an undergraduate degree in music from the UW, suggested they move to Seattle, and once here, Aanerud began processing what had happened to her. Then, she looked into Women Studies. She ultimately finished a General Studies degree with an emphasis in Women Studies in 1990, and in the process read a book called This Bridge Called my Back, by Gloria Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga, that led her to her central focus.

"It shifted a number of things for me, including challenging the way I understood my relationship to racism as a white person," Aanerud says. "I had been taught that, while racism is a problem, it's not my problem. That book was instrumental in moving me to a place where understanding what it means to be white is central to challenging racism in this country."

Aanerud now does research in the area of whiteness studies, and brings this outlook to her classes. Victoria Gardner, who is director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the School of Medicine, encountered Aanerud in a College of Education graduate course called the Moral Foundations of Education, and says this:

"Thanks to Professor Aanerud, these authors [read in the class] made me cry, made me wonder, made me question, made me think. With enthusiasm, I passed Dr. Aanerud's readings around my department." After her staff read them, Gardner reported, they talked about them. "And we're still talking and still growing."

That kind of response is gratifying to Aanerud, who says that as a teacher, she isn't interested in having students find out what she thinks. "What I'm interested in is them knowing what they think. If they can figure out how to grapple with issues and come to an understanding, then I'm satisfied. I'm really interested in their intellectual growth."

That's true whether she's teaching graduate classes like Gardner's or the introductory Women Studies class she regularly has responsibility for. She's gone to bat for grad student development by helping to create the Lead TA position in Women Studies, and she has ventured outside the University to consult with K-12 teachers and principals.

She does it all, says student Claire Fraczek, with a "deep sense of humanity, consistently checking and revising her own position in the world so that she may create a more just community for those around her."

But in the end, it all comes down to students. "The students are just central," Aanerud says. "I think they're amazing -- even the ones who seem cranky and difficult. I can't think of a more challenging, more rewarding job."