2010 Collegiate Teaching Excellence Award Citations
Professor Peter Anderson of Grand Valley State University has inspired his students, his colleagues, and the larger classics community through his commitment to innovative teaching and to fostering intellect. A scholar of Seneca the Younger and Martial, Professor Anderson brings to his classes the best qualities of each author: philosophical and contemplative thought together with wit and literary knowledge. His department chair praises him for his insight as well as the grace with which he delivers it: “He has become an object of fascination for his students—and the subject of a Facebook page dedicated to his quips and classroom exploits—without seeking to foster a cult of personality or playing to the crowd.”
Professor Anderson has taught an impressive range of courses from “Imagining Troy” and “Stoicism and the Happy Life” to “Latin Composition” and “Hot Summer Nights with Cicero and Caesar: Caesarian Speeches with Correspondence or Come Learn to Pity the Man You to Hate.” His former students have nothing but the highest praise for the demands he places upon himself and the class. As a recent graduate notes, “He constructs his classes around a teaching philosophy of shared responsibility between instructor and pupil, and his high expectations for himself and for his students lead to challenging, but immensely rewarding learning experiences.” In addition to his regular teaching assignments, Professor Anderson has offered countless independent studies and has served as a mentor for numerous senior Honors theses. One of his students received a prestigious university prize for her project on Renaissance commentaries on Martial, and her remarks convey the high esteem in which his students hold him: “…it was a tremendous honor, but the fact that Dr. Anderson traveled back to Grand Rapids from Cincinnati (where he was away on fellowship at the time) to present me with the award meant every bit as much.” Most striking, however, is the wide variety of students drawn to Professor Anderson’s courses; he has made Classics come alive for future scholars and teachers as well as for small business leaders. Under his guidance, they have excelled in the classroom, in his summer Latin sight-reading group, and in the student-led Classics Society.
Professor Anderson’s dedication to teaching also extends beyond Grand Valley State University. He has published several articles on teaching Latin, and colleagues far and wide praise the suggestions offered on these pages. One of these readers writes, “Although I do not do exactly what he outlines in this article, I owe most of my success in teaching Intermediate Latin to him. I have shared Professor Anderson’s article with other teachers in Oklahoma, and I am pleased to say that many of them have had similar success in adapting his methods to their own classes.” Professor Anderson has also authored for the Michigan Department of Education a report on state standards for Latin teaching as well as criteria and items for the statewide Latin certification exam. Professor Anderson’s contributions to these projects not only benefit those Classics students at Grand Valley State interested in pursuing a career in P-12 teaching but also serve our profession in a profound and purposeful way.
We are honored to recognize Professor Anderson’s distinguished record of teaching, his scholarship on Latin pedagogy, and his work on Latin teacher education in the state of Michigan with the APA’s 2010 Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level.
Mary C. English
“Krevans rocks” says a student evaluation of Professor Nita Krevans of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota. A colleague remarks more decorously: “The undergraduate programme here in Latin and Greek Studies was once described to me as ‘one of the hidden glories of American Classics’. If this is true it is not least thanks to Nita Krevans.” This energetic, engaging, and caring teacher and scholar has been a beloved presence in the department for over twenty years, teaching an astonishing range of courses in Greek and Latin language, and in ancient civilization. She offers Homer, Hellenistic poetry, Lucretius, and Medieval Latin Lyric with equal ease. A course on the Age of Alexander rubs shoulders with Myth. But in all of them she receives praise for her accessibility, her detailed feedback on assignments, and her “exceptional skill in reading the abilities, interests . . . and needs of her students.” A former chair remarks on her “extraordinary creativity and limitless energy,” while a departing graduate student wrote: “without your support I would have quit in a huff years ago and now be working as a parking lot attendant.”
Professor Krevans has been effective both as an undergraduate and a graduate advisor, as a valued mentor for Teaching Assistants, and as an important force in curriculum design. Her influence is thus felt in every area of teaching concern for a large department. But as is so often the case, the greatest appeal is lodged in details: in her use of film clips from The Matrix to illustrate the ritual aspects and dramatic tension of Homeric armoring scenes, in the breadth of scope evident in her survey of minotaur imagery from Knossos to Picasso’s “Guernica,” and in what she describes as one of her favorite teaching tools, the student forgery. This project asks students to fake an ancient document, complete with ancient dating formulas and honorifics, and then produce scholarly commentaries on each other’s forgeries. Or there was the collaboration with a graduate student that led to a Greek language production of the Alcestis. Or the time when she encouraged a graduate student to bring Aratus’ Phaenomena to life at the Minnesota Planetarium. Clearly then, this is a teacher and scholar who brings Classics out of the classroom and into the community. She gives interviews for Minnesota Public Radio and local newspapers. She takes her classes to the Minnesota Institute of Arts, lectures to local high school students and their teachers on the coin collection at the Weisman Museum, advises the Classical Association on using local resources, and has been involved in workshops supporting the teaching of Latin in high school. We are proud to recognize her learning, her dedication, her outreach and her innovation with the APA’s 2010 Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level.
Last updated December 20, 2010.