Lilly Fellows Stories

Lilly Fellows Stories

Lilly Fellows Stories

The Lilly Fellowship for Teaching Excellence supports the university's strategic interest in developing and supporting academic leaders in the area of teaching. Here's what past fellows have to say about the broader outcomes and benefits of the program.

Dr. Shannon Roberts

"Lilly gave me dedicated time to reflect, discuss, and improve upon myself as an instructor, which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I spent time reading about in-class activities, pedagogy, and class preparatory tasks that have been invaluable. I also had the opportunity to think more deeply about what it means for me to teach and for a student to learn and how those roles can be reversed. After I gave a brief presentation about my Lilly experience to faculty in my department, many came up to me afterwards (and even a year later!) to ask for my material and general teaching tips. My time in the Lilly program also helped me outside of my teaching duties — I have been able to incorporate some of the principles into my research grants. More specifically, I applied for and received a NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Site grant wherein I will be mentoring undergraduate students in research. With this grant, I can apply the principles I learned from the Lilly program, e.g., how to interact with students, how to scaffold their learning, and how to provide multiple opportunities for learning, to mentoring and guiding undergraduate students in research."

Dr. Shannon Roberts (2021-2022), Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Bradley Bennett

"I greatly benefited from the Lilly Fellowship. The Lilly Fellowship helped me match different approaches and classroom tools to the different materials and objectives for the courses, and helped me be more cognizant of the students’ experiences. I liked having a cohort of colleagues from different disciplines. I not only learned a lot about their disciplines and specific (sometimes unique) challenges they face in their courses, but I was able to identify some “overlap” with my own objectives or course material. Hearing about their successes and challenges with their teaching styles and/or pedagogical approaches fueled discussion for when/how/and why alternative approaches may be helpful. After participating in the Lilly Fellowship, I changed my undergraduate course to use in-person class time for information assimilation, instead of dissemination (which I now do before our class time, leveraging technology). I have received positive feedback and nominations for teaching awards in the school, as well as nomination for the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award."

Dr. Bradley Bennett (2016-2017), Accounting 

Alexandra Meliou

"I participated in the Lilly Fellowship cohort in the 2016-2017 academic year, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had on campus.  I learned a lot, both from the program itself and from the other fellows, and I was surprised at how much hearing experiences about teaching in other disciplines would help evolve my own pedagogy.  The Lilly program was instrumental in assisting me towards a redesign of one of our undergraduate courses to a flipped classroom model, which has allowed me to maintain interactivity and hands-on support to students, even while scaling the class to a much larger size.  My participation in the Lilly cohort and the tremendous support from CTL have truly helped me become a better educator."

Dr. Alexandra Meliou 2016-2017, Computer Science

Caitlyn Butler

"Being a Lilly Fellow afforded me the opportunity to improve the way I deliver my classes and better understand my students’ needs. Rare are opportunities to reflect how to teach, and rarer are opportunities to have a community of practice to share in the development of new styles of teaching and skills to support student learning. The Lilly Program makes space for faculty to grow as instructors, and the prestige of the program validates the investment of time as departments recognize the experience will benefit students. For me personally, my Lilly Fellowship year was transformative in terms of how I think about course design and how I motivate student engagement in my classes. I used that year to transform how I teach CEE 250 Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer (Thermo), a core course that does not have obvious connections to Civil Engineering in the eyes of the students required to take it. Overall, satisfaction in this course has improved. And the practices I established as part of my Lilly Fellowship year have been adopted by other instructors of Thermo and my colleagues in general. My cohort of faculty was instrumental in my success in the adaptation of new instructional practices. Their support, camaraderie, and encouragement were invaluable and a few members of my cohort continue to be resources for me now."

Dr. Caitlyn Butler (2017-2018), Civil & Environmental Engineering  

Patrick Flaherty

"The Lilly Fellowship has been a transformative experience for me as an instructor of STAT535, Statistical Computing. Through the fellowship, I learned how to align my course objectives, assessments and activities with evidence-based practices and student feedback. I redesigned the course to include a project-based component where students apply their statistical computing skills to real-world problems and teach their peers about their chosen topics. This has increased student engagement, motivation and learning outcomes. The students also appreciate how the course prepares them for careers in data science and helps them showcase their abilities to potential employers. I am now Undergraduate Program Director and Associate Head for Curriculum in math/stat and I've been able to share the lessons I learned from the Lilly fellowship with my colleagues more widely. I'm grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Lilly Fellowship and improve undergraduate education at UMass."

Dr. Patrick Flaherty (2017-2018), Mathematics & Statistics

Dr. Madelaine Bartlett

"The Lilly fellowship was transformative. The discussions, readings, and workshops gave me the opportunity and space to figure out who I was as a teacher. The exposure to many flavors of excellence in pedagogy was thought-provoking, liberating, and inspiring. In addition, the fellowship provided the rare opportunity to connect deeply with faculty from across campus. This teaching community, and the breadth of perspective and expertise held by the fellows in my cohort, was almost as enriching and valuable as the more formal training of the fellowship. The Lilly fellowship made me a more effective teacher, and set me up for a long, rewarding career in education."

Dr. Madelaine Bartlett (2019-2020), Biology

Theo Eisenman

"The Lilly Fellowship was an invaluable opportunity to develop my teaching skills. Through engagement with a curated set of resources on university pedagogy, constructive dialogue with UMass colleagues, and targeted exercises, I developed new teaching strategies for the Junior Year Writing course that I instruct in our department. This included new graphic teaching tools specifically geared for our students, many of whom tend to be visual learners; it also included new lesson plans geared towards meta-awareness of the writing process itself. Additionally, the Fellowship motivated constructive changes to syllabi across the courses that I teach."

Dr. Theo Eisenman (2020-2021), Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning

Jasmine Kerrissey

"The Lilly Fellowship was a defining highlight of my time as an Assistant Professor at UMass.  Its community and training provided me with critical support. Now, seven years later, I regularly draw upon its lessons to help newer faculty design their courses. The Lilly didn't just help me be a better teacher— it helped our whole department."

Dr. Jasmine Kerrissey (2016-2017), Sociology

Kathryne Young

"I was confident in the classroom before the Lilly Fellowship, but even so, the Lilly was absolutely game-changing.  Learning how a chemist or a mechanical engineer tackles the same challenges I face as a social scientist allowed me to see teaching from new angles and think more creatively about how to interact with students.  The Lilly Fellowship undoubtedly made me more effective in the classroom, and perhaps even more importantly, equipped me with the skills and confidence to help other professors become better teachers.  It is because of the Lilly Fellowship that I now approach teaching as a fundamentally shared endeavor, and have sought out leadership and mentorship roles, formal and informal, to share what I have learned (and to keep learning from others!).  The Lilly experience was both formative and energizing for me."

Dr. Kathryne Young (2019-2020), Sociology