Excellence in Teaching

Posted: April 19, 2013


Denison University honored two professors with the prestigious Charles A. Brickman teaching excellence award at the college's Academic Awards Convocation held on Friday, April 19, in Swasey Chapel. Jessen T. Havill, professor of mathematics and computer science, and Mary Tuominen, professor of Anthropology & Sociology, were honored for their consummate dedication and commitment to their students. 
Provost Bradley Bateman said of Havill, "A veteran professor emphatically describes Jessen as 'one of the top quality teachers and scholars on this campus, truly first rate and a 'work horse' in the best sense of the word,' spending long hours preparing his courses, mentoring students, collaborating with colleagues and stewarding the development of the curriculum. Another colleague wrote, 'the key word that comes to mind when I consider Jessen's contribution to Denison is 'relevant,' whether to students and colleagues or to non-majors who can see its relevance by applying computational science to other areas, even if that means he has to develop a course featuring real-world applications where a text does not otherwise exist.' Meanwhile, many alumni have noted that the upper-level courses he designed impressed employers who did not expect students from a liberal arts school to be so well versed in such advanced, relevant material."
Describing Tuominen, Bateman said, "The steady theme at the core of all her courses is a commitment to facilitating critical and analytic thinking in students. In this, Mary plays a catalytic role. The combination of intellectual challenge, clear direction and constructive feedback is a hallmark of her teaching, recognized by students and fellow faculty alike. For all the energy Mary puts into the classroom, she devotes an equal amount as an academic and research advisor, Posse Mentor, and member of the campus and local communities, continuously striving for dialogue, understanding, respect, equality, as well as inspiring others to do the same. A professor wrote, we can appreciate Mary's 'insight into the ways in which we must all continue to work to bring about the structural change necessary to 'truly become a multicultural institution.' "
The Brickman Teaching Excellence Award was established in 1997 in honor of Denison trustee Charles A. Brickman, an alumnus from the class of 1954. Having joined Denison's Board of Trustees in 1973, Mr. Brickman is a life trustee of the college, and he served as chair of the Board from 1983 to 1998.
Winners of the Brickman Award are chosen annually by a faculty committee of previous awardees, along with the provost and associate provost. Nominees must be tenured members of Denison's teaching faculty who are models of commitment to teaching and who also have strong records of dedication to students inside and outside the classroom. Recipients must have demonstrated a vibrant interest in the learning process, as well as an understanding of teaching as a continuously evolving art form: someone who embraces the teaching and mentoring of students, not just as a profession, but as a calling.
Havill teaches a variety of courses in computer science, and his research largely focuses on the design and analysis of algorithms for online network routing and machine scheduling problems. He received his bachelor's in computer science and religion from Bucknell University and his master's and doctorate in computer science from the College of William and Mary.
Tuominen teaches courses in gender and race ethnicity, political economy, work/family, social change and public policy. She researches the concerns of child-care workers about their low wages, lack of benefits and the lack of equal and economic value accorded their work. Tuominen received her bachelor's in education followed by her master's in public administration from Seattle University and her doctorate from the University of Oregon.
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