During this unprecedented time of the coronavirus, the Division of the Humanities at UChicago conducted a virtual Convocation—not out of choice but of necessity. The importance of commemorating its students’ and faculty’s achievements is captured on film and is available starting at 4:30 p.m. on June 12.
In addition to celebrating the achievements of more than 200 graduating students with master’s and doctoral degrees on June 12, Dean Anne Walters Robertson and Dean of Students Shea Wolfe honored several Division of Humanities students and faculty members during the Graduation Ceremony—Zoe Hughes, Lester (Zhuqing) Hu, Olga Sánchez-Kiselewska, Elizabeth Asmis, and Jason Riggle.
Zoe Hughes, Dean’s Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence
Zoe Hughes, a PhD candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature, received the Dean’s Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence for her outstanding performance as a graduate student teacher for undergraduate and master’s degree students.
One of her students described Hughes as a brilliant teacher, with the ability to craft an engaging and balanced English course showcasing her tremendous pedagogical skill and passion, while another student found Hughes could dissect complicated theory and explain it in an accessible way.
Lester (Zhuqing) Hu, Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award
Humanities scholar Lester (Zhuqing) Hu received the 2020 Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation award for his outstanding scholarly contributions to the study of music. He earned his doctoral degree in the Department of Music in the spring term of 2019 for his dissertation “From Ut Re Mi to Fourteen-Tone Temperament: The Global Acoustemologies of an Early Modern Reform to Chinese Musical Tuning.”
Under the direction of Martha Feldman, the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Music, Hu delved thoroughly into multiple sources, marshalled rigorous arguments, and displayed his versatile skills and knowledge in many fields to advance toward a new global musicology.
Feldman describes his outstanding dissertation as the product of Hu’s once-in-a-generation scholarly talent, his amazing language skills, and his stunning multidisciplinary intellect. In fall 2019, Lester began a tenure-track position at the University of California, Berkeley.
Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska, Janel M. Mueller Award for Excellence in Pedagogy
Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska, lecturer in Music Theory in the Department of Music, received the Janel M. Mueller Award for Excellence in Pedagogy, named in honor of former dean and professor emerita Janel Mueller. This award recognizes the contributions of lecturers and senior lecturers within the Division of the Humanities.
Sánchez-Kisielewska displays excellence in teaching, mentoring graduate students, and enhancing the intellectual life in the Department of Music. Her extraordinary pedagogical acumen keeps students engaged in learning at all times. Sánchez-Kisielewska’s students learn skills like counterpoint from different angles: memorizing keyboard patterns, composing, analyzing, singing, performing on their instruments, and making videos.
When the arrival of coronavirus necessitating remote learning, she quickly showed leadership and adaptability in decoding technology solutions, mentoring her course assistants to facilitate remote singing and playing, and moving course materials online. Her classes lost nothing in terms of depth of engagement, and her students continue their interactive playing and singing.
Elizabeth Asmis, Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
Elizabeth Asmis, professor in the Department of Classics and the College, received the University-wide teaching award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring.
By cultivating a remarkably capacious view of the scope of philosophical inquiry, Asmis unites students and scholars from across the University in the study of classical texts. Hers is a generous voice in multiple workshops, and her recent service has included advising across five departments.
Her belief in her students grants them space to flourish—to hear praise as earned and criticism as constructive. Her scholarly generosity allows them to find, develop, and refine their own projects, which in turn allows them to find their own voices and thus to become scholars in their own right. All this—and a warm humanity—makes her an outstanding mentor.
Through outstanding generosity and intellectual support, Elizabeth has aided generations of students in the shared study of classical philosophy.
Jason Riggle, Bobbi Josephine Hernandez-Sze, AM’93, and Morgan Chia-Wen Sze, MBA’93, Teaching Award
Jason Riggle, associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and the College, received the Bobbi Josephine Hernandez-Sze A.M. 1993 and Morgan Chia-Wen Sze M.B.A.1993 Teaching Award. Bobbi and Morgan met when they were undergraduate students at Cornell University. In the early 1990s, the couple studied at University of Chicago; Bobbi completed her master’s degree in English, and Morgan earned his master’s degree in business administration.
Bobbi and Morgan experienced wonderful teachers here and wanted to encourage excellent teaching within the Division of the Humanities. This award honors faculty members who guide the intellectual development of undergraduate students through exceptional teaching and mentoring.
Riggle’s students and colleagues commend his phenomenal ability to teach complex topics such as “The Language of Deception and Humor” and “Language in an Age of Micro-aggression” in lively, well-constructed formats that encourage active student participation. Riggle creates the kind of energy that is simultaneously intellectual and grounded in daily living. As a result, Riggle’s students can readily understand the relevance of the class to the everyday and have a transformative kind of learning experience.
Additionally, Riggle excels in the classroom as a dynamic teacher-scholar with a lively style that involves students and challenges them. Riggle is a creative thinker, integrating current information in supervising individuals’ research. Through his own research and students’ projects, Riggle engages students in hands-on research experiences.