Outstanding faculty honored with teaching awards at commencement.

A pastor, an artist and a professor so talented she has been dubbed “the dissertation whisperer” are among the most outstanding faculty of 2014.

Three exceptional professors were nominated by students and their deans and awarded Teacher of the Year accolades this spring. Their names were announced at Drew’s commencement in mid May.

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. “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,” said Drew President Vivian A. Bull.

These three faculty members were nominated by students and deans.

Bull presented the award to West, a noted author and public speaker, on behalf of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

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 exhibit 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, this teacher oversaw a period of significant growth. He secured funding to create a new digital lab for the increasingly popular classes in animation, video and photography,” Bull said of Stein.

Liana Piehler, an adjunct professor in the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, was the recipient of the Thomas H. Kean Scholar/Mentor of the Year. Previously, she was given the Merrill Skaggs Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Graduate Student Association.

Piehler teaches a range of courses in the Arts & Letters program – including “The Joy of Scholarly Writing” which helps students begin their dissertation preparations and has been affectionately dubbed “the dissertation whisperer.”  She also teaches a popular series of water color practicums involving painting with water colors in an interdisciplinary approach to learning, explained Dean Robert Ready.–Elizabeth Moore