April 24, 2012
SBS Outstanding Teaching Awards Recognize Faculty
This year’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award goes to Lynn Phillips, chief undergraduate advisor and lecturer in Communication, and Associate Professor of Journalism Nicholas McBride ’76 (political science).
These inspirational teachers have been heralded for their innovative pedagogical approaches, exceptional performance, and written comments, including rousing endorsements by students and colleagues. Both have made a positive impact on the academic growth of students, as well as on their sense of living in the world.
Phillips, who holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, has transformed student advising and mentorship in a department of about 800 undergraduate majors through her groundbreaking work developing the Peer Advising Program. Launched in 2010, the program has received outstanding evaluations. Phillips’ students feel supported, respected, and guided as individuals and as a valued part of a team in a warm and welcoming environment. The fact that other campus departments are using the program as a model and that other universities are consulting with Phillips, following her various presentations at conferences, to develop their own programs speaks volumes.
About a dozen PAs work closely with Phillips, receiving intensive pre-service training and participating in her pioneering yearlong Integrated Experience, 300-level seminar. This course immerses students in readings and in-depth discussions of issues such as multiculturalism, critical pedagogy, stereotype threat, social perception and attribution, interpersonal communication, cultural capital and the hidden curriculum, and early adult development. PAs examine how these play out in college students’ diverse experiences. The course has proven successful in giving PAs tools they’ll need to help Communication majors make effective decisions about courses of study and requirements and connecting them to university resources. For more information about the Communication Peer Advising Program, click here.
Phillips also teaches a range of classes, from small seminars to large lecture courses, proving equally adept at reaching students in all of them. Said one student in her Comm 121 Intro to Media and Culture, “This was the best class I ever took. It has made me look at the world in a new way. The discussions were really inspiring and helped me learn a lot.”
This is not Phillips' first recognition for outstanding teaching. Before coming to UMass Amherst in 2005, she received the Distinguished University Teaching Award from the New School University in New York. Phillips’ research interests include the subjective and social implications of media images related to hypermasculinity and the hypersexualization of young girls, the commercialization of children's culture, and the health and environmental impacts of media driven consumerism. Her scholarship sits at the nexus of social and developmental psychology, critical cultural studies, and feminist media studies, with a particular focus on issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality.
Says Phillips, “It is incredibly fulfilling to be recognized for my teaching, as it’s really the core of my work as both an educator and a researcher. My goal is to create safe and intellectually stimulating spaces that prompt students to try on new ideas, to wonder out loud, and to develop the analytic tools to pursue complex and important questions about the world. Being honored like this by my students and other faculty members is extremely rewarding.”
Nicholas McBride, who is a UMass alum having earned his BA in 1976 in political science, is a stellar teacher and mentor. His pedagogy and curriculum development, engaged classroom teaching, and community service learning/community partnership development, and mentorship both academically and professionally offer a model for excellence in multifaceted teaching.
Recognizing McBride with the SBS Outstanding Teaching Award this year is richly deserved. In 2005, soon after the Department of Communication and the Journalism Program were integrated, his extraordinary accomplishments with students were acknowledged with a University Distinguished Teaching Award. Since then McBride’s contributions to SBS classrooms have been immeasurable and his teaching continues to develop in innovative ways.
A dedicated teacher, committed to dynamic, interactive classes and civic awareness and engagement, McBride offers courses such as Philosophy of Journalism, Community Journalism, Politics of Sport, Journalism Ethics, and Covering Race, among others including a very popular interdisciplinary seminar on American Music as History, Politics and Metaphysics. Students consistently praise McBride’s ability to stimulate and challenge them to engage in dialogue and think critically while “sharing and exchanging thoughts and ideas openly and respectfully.”
McBride has developed a community partnership with Commerce High School in Springfield with his UMass students in Community Journalism. The weekly mutual mentoring experiences that bring together undergraduates and high school students to work on print and multimedia journalism projects, students say, are “life-changing.” For example, commentary from students who have taken his Covering Race class indicate, “There should be more courses like this—intellectually stimulating and socially relevant." Clearly, McBride’s impact on UMass students has been profound.
Having taught at UMass since 1990, McBride says his emphasis is on teaching and learning. “Real teaching is humbling your self enough to be a student for life, to know that wisdom and insight come from everyone, especially your students.” Over the past two decades McBride has been involved with various teaching initiatives related to recruitment and retention of minority students as well as being a fellow at the Center for Teaching and Community Service Learning. Before joining academia, McBride had a rich career in journalism and community and social service, gaining more than twenty years’ experience first as a youth advocate and then as a writer for various media outlets including the Washington Post, the District of Columbia government, and the Christian Science Monitor. He holds a master’s degree from the School of Journalism at Columbia University (1986) and an MEd from Harvard University (1990).