CHASS Distinguished Teaching Award 2008-09

Traise YamamotoTraise Yamamoto, Associate Professor of English, is the recipient of the 2009 CHASS Distinguished Teaching Award. As the recipient of this award, Professor Yamamoto also receives the Patricia McSweeny McCauley Chair in Teaching Excellence.  For the senior level award, it is important for the recipient to be both visible in her field, and effective in the classroom.  Her nominating letter from the department notes that Prof. Yamamoto is a nationally recognized scholar of Asian American literature, and at the same time has "created a rich and exciting curriculum in Asian American Studies.  She also offers large, successful classes in twentieth-century American Literature" and interdisciplinary courses such as "Queer an Asian-America."

Professor Yamamoto's undergraduate teaching stands out in several respects. First, her quantitative student evaluations are consistently high.  But more importantly, there is ample qualitative evidence in her file that she achieves the highest pedagogical goals of intellectually challenging her students in a manner that they find accessible.  Her nomination letter notes the "challenging level of her courses and her remarkable skill in breaking down complex ideas through well-structured class discussions, quizzes, and frequent writing assignments."  The nomination letter highlights a quote from one student in her Critical Theory course, "She taught exceedingly difficult material and made it fun.  (She did the impossible)....  I became a better reader and a more disciplined student."

Professor Yamamoto has also demonstrated exemplary teaching at the graduate level, and this is particularly important in the senior-level award.  Her nominating letter notes, "her record of graduate instruction in seminars and directing qualifying exams and dissertations... is truly extraordinary."  One graduate student in her Seminar on Minority Discourse writes, "Amazing amazing amazing.  Pedagogically effective structuring of course, very professional.  Very encouraging to all students; values what everyone has to say."  Another student writes, "Prof. is demanding but good.  Hard but enjoyable class."

Professor Yamamoto has chaired or co-chaired thirteen dissertation committees and was a member on eight others.  Her nominating letter notes that students do not select her as a "path of least resistance" to finishing.  Instead, "graduate students who found her seminars so transformative have understandably chosen to work with her on qualifying exams dissertation committees."  She has a successful record of placing students in tenure track positions, such as at Hunter College (CUNY), Ewha Woman's University (S. Korea), and Kyungwon University (S. Korea).  In addition, her letter notes that graduate applicants express interest in working with Prof. Yamamoto and note her presence in the department as a reason to apply to the program.

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