By Andries W. Coetzee
Feb 24, 2013
Teaching is part of the core mission of the University of Michigan, and it is a mission that the University could not live up to without the service of a host of committed and enthusiastic "Graduate Student Instructors" (GSI's). It is therefore only fitting that the University acknowledges the contribution that GSI's make to the teaching mission of the University. The highest honor that the University can bestow upon a GSI is the coveted Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. This award is given annually to only twenty from among the thousands of GSI's across the University. As described on the Rackham website, this award recognizes "the efforts and accomplishments of Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) who demonstrate a passion for sharing their knowledge and experience. These young scholars and researchers combine innovative scholarship and research with superb teaching and mentoring. They recognize the humanity of their students as they maintain rigorous intellectual standards and model professional integrity."
This year, two of these awards went to graduate students who have been GSI's in the Linguistics Department. Andrew Gurstelle, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, was a GSI for Linguistics 111 in the Fall of 2012. Although Andrew's area of specialization is in archeological anthropology, he has extensive knowledge of Bantu languages and linguistics. Andrew contributed unique perspectives to Linguistics 111, and the students in his discussion sections were all very impressed with his engaging yet challenging teaching. We are fortunate that we able to "borrow" Andrew for one semester from his home Department!
Eric Brown, a final year graduate student in our Department, also received one of the awards this year. Eric has been involved in the teaching several different classes in Linguistics during his tenure in our Department, ranging from lower-level classes like Linguistics 111 to upper-level classes such as Linguistics 370 (Language and Discrimination). As recognition for how much the Department values Eric's teaching, he was offered the opportunity in the Fall of 2012 to be the sole-instructor for Linguistics 362 (Talking and Telling). Eric is also currently serving as the "Graduate Student Mentor" in our Department. In this capacity, Eric co-taught the GSI Training Seminar (Linguistics 993) for new Linguistic GSI's at the beginning of this academic year, and he also serves as a resource for the other GSI's in the Department on all things teaching related. As another testament to Eric's commitment to providing quality learning experiences for undergraduate students, he completed the U-M Graduate Teacher Certificate offered through the University's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.
We are honored to count such wonderful and dedicated teachers among our GSI's, and the undergraduate students in Linguistics classes are fortunate to be taught by such GSI's!