David Haskell named Tennessee’s top professor


For the fourth time in eight years a member of Sewanee’s faculty has been named Tennessee Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

David Haskell, a member of the biology faculty since 1996, was selected from among more than 300 top professors in the United States.

“I’m humbled by the recognition, and I dedicate the award to the many Sewanee students who have made my work as a teacher so enriching,” Haskell said. “It is a privilege to work at a University that esteems excellence in teaching, and to share my work with brilliant and caring colleagues on the staff and faculty.”

Prof. David Haskell teaches a class outdoorsThe many students who think of Haskell as both a mentor and friend say that among so many excellent teachers, Haskell is the best teacher they’ve ever had. “The ‘Sewanee experience’ is simply not complete without the insight of Dr. Haskell,” wrote Jordan Casey,C’09, in her essay supporting the nomination. “His intelligence is seemingly infinite, and his courses and lectures attract students from fields as diverse as economics, philosophy, and art history. Every student becomes immersed in the topic with a passionate intensity for learning.”

Both Casey and former student Bert Harris, C’06, praise Haskell’s training and support, which allowed them to conduct, present, and publish research while still undergraduates. “The independence I learned with Dr. Haskell, in addition to all aspects of the scientific process, served me very well as a research associate in Ecuador and now as a Ph.D. student. My career achievements were all made possible by Dr. Haskell’s unparalleled teaching,” says Harris.

“The scale of David’s favorable impact on undergraduates is unsurpassed at Sewanee,” adds Dean of the College John Gatta. “Students and faculty members alike repeatedly cite his intellectual passion and ability to inspire. One sign of this high esteem is that the Society of Sewanee Scholars named him as the Teacher of the Year in 2007.”

David Haskell named Tennessee's top professorHaskell earned his degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and his doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. His teaching at Sewanee is known for combining class material with action in the world, whether through hands-on exploration of biodiversity or work in the local food bank. Haskell’s own home and farm serve as an example of sustainability for students, and his Saturday morning bird walks attract a cross-section of faculty, students, and other community members.

“David Haskell embodies the ideal of a Sewanee professor,” said Vice Chancellor Joel Cunningham. “He is an outstanding scholar and innovative teacher with an abiding interest in the lives of his students. He also is an exemplary member of the Sewanee community whose contributions outside the classroom have enriched the lives of many here. His inclusion among the three other faculty awardees here at the University is richly deserved, and we are pleased he has been recognized for his work.”

Past winners of the award from Sewanee include Bran Potter, Snowden Professor of Geology, who received the award in 2002; Cassie Mansfield, associate professor of art history, recipient in 2003; and George Poe, professor of French, honored in 2006.

“I try to infect my students with an unabashed love for learning,” Haskell said in a personal statement for the award. “From this love, I hope will grow great scholars, engaged citizens, and lives that are a little more whole.”

More about the Professors of the Year Awards

The U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel as teachers and influence the lives and careers of their students. CASE and the Carnegie Foundation have been partners in offering the awards program since 1981. This year, there are 38 state winners. Haskell was selected from faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.

More about the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie “to do all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of teaching.” The foundation is the only advanced-study center for teachers in the world and the third-oldest foundation in the nation. Its nonprofit research activities are conducted by a small group of distinguished scholars.

More about the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of education institutions, serving nearly 3,400 universities, colleges, schools, and related organizations in 59 countries. CASE is the leading resource for professional development, information, and standards in the fields of educational fundraising, communications, marketing and alumni relations.

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