Eight profs receive Columbia’s top teaching award

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Biological sciences chair Stuart Firestein is presented the Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award by his former student Eleonora Spinazzi ’10CC. / Photo: Eileen BarrosoOn February 8, the University honored eight professors for their classroom skills and commitment to mentoring students. At a celebratory dinner at Casa Italiana, the professors were presented with Distinguished Columbia Faculty Awards, which include stipends of $25,000 per year for three consecutive years.

The honorees were American studies scholar Rachel Adams, biologist Stuart Firestein, political scientist Mahmood Mamdani, medieval art expert Stephen Murray, environmental scientist Paul Olsen, historian Susan Pedersen, philosopher Achille Varzi, and classicist Katharina Volk.

The awards are funded by a $12 million donation from Trustee Gerry Lenfest ’58LAW, ’09HON.

Firestein says that being a good science teacher requires humanizing the research process: “Too often, science is taught as a mere accumulation of facts. But that’s not how scientists think. We need to be passionate and full of questions. I try to show my students that.”

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