Congratulations to SBS Teaching Award Winners, Spring '23

May 4, 2023
Amy Fatzinger, Margaret Wilder, Orhon Mayadar, and Andrew Charles

Amy Fatzinger, Margaret Wilder, Orhon Mayadar, and Andrew Charles

Congratulations to the recipients of 2023 Teaching Awards for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences! We thank Margaret Wilder, Orhon Myadar, Amy Fatzinger, and Andrew Charles for their dedication to students and for creating innovative and impactful curriculum.

Margaret Wilder
Professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment; Professor and Acting Director of Center of Latin American Studies

SBS Undergraduate Lower-Division Teaching Award

This award recognizes superior and innovative teaching in lower-division undergraduate courses.

Margaret Wilder

Margaret Wilder is a human-environment geographer with a distinguished record of scholarship on water governance and social and environmental movements

in the Southwest, the U.S border region, Mexico, and Latin America. Her transformative teaching draws directly on this research experience to help students understand the global connections that shape our everyday life in the Borderlands.

Wilder's nominators noted her "innovative and energetic teaching" of EVS 260: Introduction to Environmental Studies: Individuals, Ideas, & Institutions, a course Wilder created. The class included an interactive “Water Summit” project, a student-led, extended role-play exercise involving a fictional western water conflict.

"Dr. Wilder consistently incorporates undergraduate engagement into her classes,” wrote Carl Bauer, professor and director of the School of Geography, Development & Environment (SGDE), and Elizabeth Oglesby, associate professor in the Center for Latin American Studies and SGDE. “Her classes stimulate critical thinking, promote analytical skills, develop students’ knowledge on threshold concepts, and bring these abilities to bear in a final cumulative project."

One student wrote, “This class was an eye opening experience, and a class that I will remember forever."

Another wrote, “Honestly, I would say this is my favorite exercise I have ever done in a class, and I wish that more teachers would take a similar approach to incorporate an interactive project in class that emulates a real-life scenario."

Orhon Mayadar, Associate Professor, School of Geography, Development & Environment

SBS Undergraduate Upper-Division Teaching Award

This award recognizes superior and innovative teaching in upper-division undergraduate courses.

Orhon Myadar

Orhon Myadar teaches the course GEOG373: Political Geography, covering important themes such as nationalism, territory, borders and mobility, conflict and militarism, geopolitics, globalization, human security, and intervention.

Myadar helps students engage the concepts and theories from class to everyday contexts through applied assignments. In one assigment, students are given real cases of people who were wrongly convicted of crimes. They are then divided into groups and assigned the roles of judge and jury. Students learn how easy it is for innocent people to find themselves behind bars, and how the system disproportionately targets those who are already marginalized in society.

The award committee noted, “Dr. Myadar demonstrates an ability to effectively combine rigor, structure, and empathy to a course that is inherently challenging to lead. She asks students to critically engage with the literature and apply their learning to current global politics.”

One student wrote, "Professor Myadar was an exceptional professor. Throughout the course I learned so much through the content she prepared, the lessons, and her passion for teaching."

"Coming from a vastly different cultural and linguistic background, Dr. Myadar noted that the journey to become an effective educator in her third language in an institution has been one of the most challenging but deeply invigorating and rewarding experiences of her career," wrote Margaret Wilder, a professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment and acting director of the Center for Latin American Studies.  “It is clear she has succeeded in becoming a caring educator who brings excitement to students’ learning and does so by creating an inclusive and welcoming educational space."

Amy Fatzinger, Associate Professor, Department of American Indian Studies

SBS Graduate Teaching Award

Amy Fatzinger

This award recognizes superior and innovative teaching in graduate courses.

Amy Fatzinger teaches courses in American Indian cinema and literature. Her research also focuses on Indigenous adaptions and representations of American

Indians in literature and film. 

“Professor Fatzinger is an outstanding teacher who consistently goes above and beyond in her efforts to engage students in high-impact teaching practices,” wrote Matthew Sakiestewa Glibert, head of the Department of American Indian Studies. “She creates a supportive and inclusive classroom environment that encourages students to take risks and challenge themselves. Her courses are grounded in Indigenous perspectives, and she works tirelessly to ensure that her course content is both rigorous and up-to-date.”

Gilbert said that Fatzinger is deeply committed to creating opportunities for student engagement beyond the classroom, and she has organized numerous extracurricular activities. This spring, Fatzinger brought in mentors from journals to guide her students in the submission of their first book review.

Fatzinger has been a driving force behind developing new courses and integrating Native knowledge systems into existing practices. She also organized a poetry reading from the acclaimed Navajo poet, Luci Tapahonso, to benefit the broader community.

“Dr. Fatzinger's commitment to experiential learning and community engagement has left a lasting impact on her students,” Gilbert said. “Her passion for literature, innovative teaching methods, and dedication to serving the community make her an exemplary candidate for the Faculty Award.”

Andrew V Charles, Ph.D. student, Department of Linguistics

SBS Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant/Associate Award

This award recognizes superior and innovative work by a graduate teaching assistant or associate.

Andrew Charles

Regents Professor of Linguistics Tom Bever nominated Linguistics graduate student Andrew Charles for the GTA Award, noting that Charles has been a graduate student in his lab for four years, has TA-ed two new courses with him, and also worked with him on developing a new undergraduate minor in Consciousness Studies. Charles has excelled as a teaching assistant, a mentor to students, and managed several years of a successful Communiity Classroom course, Bever added.

“In my 60 years of teaching undergraduates, Andrew stands out among the three best TAs, out of roughly 80 graduate students at MIT, Columbia University, University of Rochester, and now the University of Arizona,” said Bever. “Andrew is a natural scholar and unstoppable teacher.”

Six faculty and multiple students contributed to the nomination letter.

“Andrew is an outstanding instructor. His work has made my classes better in every respect – he has made important contributions to course administration and organization, in-class instruction, and out-of-class assessment and student support,” wrote one professor.

Sample student comments included, “He was able to set a time to meet with me outside of office hours to go over any questions I had”; “He gave good feedback on graded assignments and was super approachable!”; “Very open and kind towards the students and their questions.”

One student in his Linguistics 315 class on phonology wrote, “I am certain many students will never forget Andrew’s name. He is never pretentious, is kind, warm, compassionate, and truly cares about everyone in his orbit. He made the unfamiliar style of online classes engaging and enjoyable.”