Drew’s Top Profs
The university names its 2014 professors of the year in the Theo School, Caspersen and CLA at Commencement.
With so many outstanding professors at Drew, it’s hard to narrow down the field, but three exceptional individuals were given Teacher of the Year accolades at Drew’s commencement on May 17. These teachers were chosen by their deans or the university president based on performance and student evaluations.
The Rev. Dr. Traci West, a professor of ethics and African-American studies, was awarded the Scholar/Teacher of the Year for the Drew Theological School. A former pastor, she remains an ordained elder in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and is a popular public speaker and author. She is also the author of several books and articles. In her remarks about West, President Vivian A. Bull said, who presented the award on behalf of the UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, “She is known as a teacher who presents difficult issues and empowers her students to think for themselves, to challenge one another and build their own ethical framework.”
Theo School Interim Dean Virginia Samuel T’75 went on about West, “She is exceptionally good at combining her knowledge of the church and her classes. She’s always connecting her academic world with the practical world of the church. It’s extremely helpful to students.”
Liana Piehler, an adjunct professor in the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, received the Thomas H. Kean Scholar/Mentor of the Year Award. Piehler teaches a range of courses in the Arts & Letters program, including “The Joy of Scholarly Writing,” which helps students begin their dissertation, and a popular series of practicums involving painting with watercolors in an interdisciplinary approach to learning, explained Caspersen Dean Robert Ready.
“She enables their creativity,” he said of Piehler. Bull, in her remarks, said of Piehler, “Every year this teacher helps doctoral students achieve their scholarly and creative best, building a final product that is more than merely defensible.”
Finally, in the College of Liberal Arts, Associate Professor Raymond Saá Stein was given the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has taught drawing, sculpture and senior studio projects at Drew since 2001. In addition, he continues to work in many mediums—including sculpture, drawing and painting—and exhibits his own work, which has been recognized by the Pollack Krasner Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“During his term as chair of the art department, Stein oversaw a period of significant growth,” said President Bull. “He secured funding to create a new digital lab for the increasingly popular classes in animation, video and photography.”
Read more about Drew’s 2014 Commencement.