Celebrating Faculty Who Change Lives

Dear Tulane Community,

Last week, I wrote to announce the distinguished guests who will receive special recognition at the Unified Commencement Ceremony. Today it is my great pleasure to announce the faculty members who will join these illustrious honorees on the platform to receive Tulane’s highest awards in undergraduate and graduate teaching.

The Suzanne and Stephen Weiss Presidential Fellows Awards are bestowed annually on two faculty members for excellence in undergraduate teaching, student advising and instructional improvement and development. The Tulane President’s Awards for Excellence in Professional and Graduate Teaching are given annually to two faculty members who have a sustained and compelling record of excellence in teaching and learning and an ongoing commitment to educational excellence.

The first Weiss Presidential Fellow for 2023 is D. Jelagat Cheruiyot, Professor of Practice in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the School of Science and Engineering and the Kylene and Brad Beers II Professor of Social Entrepreneurship in the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking. A former student of “Dr. C” who is now a Tulane employee told the selection committee: “To say that Dr. Cheruiyot has changed my life would be an understatement. Dr. Cheruiyot has been the most impactful educator that I have had at Tulane University, serving as both a mentor and pillar of support for the duration of my four years as a student, and continues to be an advocate and guide through my professional career at the University.”

The second Weiss Presidential Fellow is Allison Emmerson, Associate Professor in the Department of Classical Studies in the School of Liberal Arts. One of her students wrote: “Professor Emmerson set us up to engage with issues and topics that are difficult and prompted us to question our own thoughts as well as the thoughts of well-known scholars….Professor Emmerson is an amazing scholar but, more importantly, she is [a] caring individual… She is ready to help students in any ways that they might need and is willing to look [at] any draft you give her (which is rare but the sign of an amazing professor). She challenged us daily and encouraged us to grow. It was an honor to be her student.”

The first President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching this year goes to Katherine Andrinopoulos, Associate Professor in the Department of International Health and Sustainable Development and Director of Doctoral Programs in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. A former graduate student wrote: “It is an honor to nominate the most influential person of my career trajectory. Due to the technical training, support and encouragement I received from Katherine, I have been able to fully engage in my passion for making population-level impact… Her attentiveness to detail both in her technical subject matter expertise and emotional intelligence surpasses that of anyone else I have met. I’ve always told everyone who would listen that Katherine was and is the best mentor I always dreamed of having.”

The second recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching is Kris Lane, Frances Vinton Scholes Chair of Colonial Latin American History and William Arceneaux Professorship (I-III) in Latin American History in the School of Liberal Arts. One of his former students told the selection committee: “As a first-generation scholar I can say that Prof. Lane’s support helped me gain the confidence necessary to understand not only that my work matters, but also that my voice is important and necessary. Put simply, he has instilled in me a deep belief in the importance of the Humanities and Liberal Arts.”

All four of these faculty members understand that as we continue to produce groundbreaking and innovative research, our impact as an institution is multiplied when we also mentor the next generation of scholars and leaders. These outstanding professors lead by example in their dedication and commitment to their students. Please join me in congratulating them on their well-deserved awards.