College gives teaching award to student, professor

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

Margaret Wan and Zuzana Tomas received the Ramona W. Cannon Award in the College of Humanities for notable teaching.

Wan, a professor in languages and literature, received the award for teaching excellence. Members of the awards committee sat in on Wan’s classes as part of the process to decide who would receive the award.

Wan said she works to show her students she cares about their learning and she encourages her students to be active and participatory in their learning. When students are learning languages, it is important to get out and use the language, Wan said. When reading literature, students should participate in discussions about the literature, she said.

Tomas, a graduate student in linguistics, received the award for her work as a teaching assistant. Tomas worked on her master’s degree from 2002 to 2004 at the U and now is about to enter into her last year at the U for her doctorate degree. She has been student teaching since 2002. Tomas was nominated by several of her professors, a colleague and a former student.

Tomas hopes that as she teaches, she will maintain a connection with her students. She wants students to feel comfortable about coming to her after the semester as well as during.

“It is important for students to know that you continually care,” Tomas said.

Tomas is proposing her dissertation in April and will finish it before she graduates in May 2010. Tomas’ focus is on the future of English teaching and how it correlates with those who know English as a second language.

“It’s such a great surprise when you find out you have won,” Tomas said.

Wan earned her undergraduate degree at University of Kansas and her doctorate degree at Harvard University. She taught at the University of Notre Dame before coming to the U six years ago. At Harvard, Wan received an award based on student evaluations.

Recipients for the award are nominated each year by faculty, graduate students and by the Student Advisory Council. Nominees’ names are then given to the awards committee, which is comprised of people who have received the award in the past.

[email protected]

Margaret Wan