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The Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award


Hunter Hamilton Award recepients
Previous Hunter Hamilton Award recepients include (clockwise from bottom left) Bill Mahony, Sally McMillen, Lou Ortmayer, Cynthia Lewis, and Gail Gibson.

"I left his classroom a different person," an alumna wrote, nominating a favorite Davidson professor for the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award. If you feel that way about one of your Davidson teachers, consider nominating her or him for this year's awards, to be presented at Commencement on May 20.

To be eligible for the Hunter-Hamilton Teaching Award, a nominee must:

  • Be a full-time faculty member having taught at Davidson College for at least five years, including any subbatical leave;
  • Have established a record of contagious enthusiasm for classroom teaching and tutelage;
  • Be dedicated and patient with students, with service to them being at highest priority;
  • Have the ability to stimulate extraordinary accomplishments in students, including those with average abilities as well as those with exceptional abilities;
  • Have an ability to clarify complex matters for students;
  • Be able to build in students self-esteem, self-reliance, and a desire to learn;
  • Treat students with dignity and respect as impressionable persons with individual hopes, fears, pains, and histories -- making every effort to know them by name.

    Award recipients receive $15,000, half of which is awarded directly to the individual and half to an academic program or department of the recipient's choosing. Carefully detailed letters of recommendation should address the above criteria. For more information, or to submit a nomination, please contact Kay Thomasson, Office of the President, Davidson College, P.O. Box 7145, Davidson, N.C. 28035-7145, or 704-894-2202, or kathomasson@davidson.edu.

    The 2002 winners of the award were Scott D. Denham and Randy F. Nelson. Denham, associate professor and chair of German and Russian, was described by his nominators as "challenging," "passionate," "approachable," and "patient." One nominator noted, he "consistently stretched us to places that, without his help, we could not have envisioned." He completed his bachelor's degree in German at the University of Chicago, and went on to graduate work at Harvard University. His dissertation on Germanic languages and literatures focused on "Visions of War: The Ideology and Imagery of War Fictions in German Literature Before and After the Great War." He has been teaching at Davidson since 1990.

    His scholarly interests range from writing across the curriculum to studies of German literature and culture, and include Ernst Juenger, modernism and narrative, and cultural studies. As stated in his citation, "His academic outpouring sets an inspiring standard for Davidson."

    A twenty-five year veteran of the faculty and an award-wining fiction writer, Nelson serves as Irving professor and chair of English. The award recognized his "unexpected approaches to teaching expected texts -- and bold and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching unexpected texts," along with his ability "to cure that most threatening disease -- senioritis."

    A native of Mooresville, N.C., Nelson arrived at Davidson in 1977 after a one-year appointment at the University of Louisville. He received his undergraduate and master's degree from North Carolina State University, and earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University. His long list of courses includes the art of prose, legal fiction, modernism, the 1930s, and science fiction. As his citation noted, "His lectures are famous for their humor and conceptual brilliance, his courses famous for both their rigor and the extraordinarily high regard in which students hold this demanding teacher."

    Previous Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award Recipients: Sally McMillen, Gail Gibson, Bill Mahony, Cynthia Lewis, Cole Barton, Lou Ortmayer; Alberto Hernandez-Chiroldes, Malcolm Partin, Tony Abbott; Felix Carroll, Gil Holland, Tom Kazee, Charlie Ratliff, and Don Kimmel.

    Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson recently launched "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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