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Deadline nears for 2008 Metcalf award nominations

Click on the photos above to hear audio from Jeffrey Beatty, Eric Widmaier, and Penelope Bitzas.

Students afraid that law classes are going to be “dull and stuffy” may be misunderstanding what law is really about, says Jeffrey Beatty, a School of Management associate professor of strategy and policy: “People, and people in conflict,” he says. “That’s what makes drama.”

Beatty’s engaging teaching style, which includes his staging mini-dramas and fictional disputes in his classroom, won him the 2007 Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the University’s highest teaching honor. Students who nominated Beatty cited his “commitment to students” both inside and outside the classroom, whether cheering the crew team from the banks of the Charles River or holding late-night office hours to answer questions about an upcoming exam. Last year’s other Metcalf awardees were Penelope Bitzas, a College of Fine Arts school of music associate professor of voice, and Eric Widmaier, a College of Arts and Sciences professor and chair of biology.

Now, the provost’s office is seeking nominations for the 2008 awards, which include the Metcalf Cup and Prize and the Metcalf Awards. Established in 1973 with a gift from the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a trustee and board chairman emeritus, the awards are for “the review of the quality of teaching at Boston University and the identification and advancement of those members of the faculty who excel as teachers.” This year’s nomination deadline for the 2008 awards is October 16, and students and faculty have already submitted several candidates.

The selection committee is made up of five past Metcalf winners, along with two undergraduates and a University administrator. During the academic year, the committee will vet the 2008 candidates, looking for mastery of subject matter, engaging classroom presentations, and thorough evaluation of student work.

“These are the best teachers looking for more of the best teachers,” says Assistant Provost Michael Field.

The committee also requests statements from the nominees, asking them to describe their teaching philosophy, and reviews the student evaluations and grading patterns, considers syllabi and assignments, and solicits additional letters of recommendation from current and former students. Committee members will visit the finalists’ classes and will present their recommendations to University President Robert A. Brown in the spring. The Metcalf Cup comes with a prize of $10,000 and the Metcalf Awards with $5,000 each.

For more information about the Metcalf Committee, click here.
To find out how to submit a letter of recommendation, click here.

Chris Berdik can be reached at cberdik@bu.edu.