Pamela Kittelson, 2017 Carlson Award Winner, Biology Department Posted on May 29th, 2017 by

Pamela Kittelson

Pamela Kittelson

Every year, former recipients of the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching meet to review the new crop of nominations. In 2016, those former recipients established several criteria that they would look for in the nominees. This year’s recipient has garnered praise from students and colleagues in all of those areas, and has been nominated for this award many times – dating back to the last century.

This year, we recognize a faculty member known for rigorous, challenging, transformational teaching. A colleague writes that this faculty member sets high standards for students, as well as a clear path to success, and provides constant encouragement to help students succeed. A recent graduate wrote that this professor “pushes [me] and others to strive to do our best [and] genuinely cares about our education….” A hallmark of this professor’s teaching is a stress on effective writing, and a member of the English department faculty notes that students who have worked with this year’s recipient “are among the best prepared, most articulate, careful writers” in her classes and that the students “rave about the time [this year’s recipient] takes to work with them on their writing….”

This professor is also reflective, innovative, thoughtful, and intentional about teaching, and constantly works to improve. A regular participant as well as a faculty leader in teaching-related programs sponsored by the Kendall Center, this faculty member is always alert to changing student needs and adapting courses to meet those needs. Among the high-impact practices used by this professor, field work plays a key role – everything from local and regional to out-of-state and even international. This professor has developed courses to meet the needs of non-majors as well.

Majors have thrived under her mentoring. Many have been admitted to first-rate graduate programs, and credit our honoree with their success. One writes that she received advice about the right programs to apply for, had regular meetings to review and improve her application, and got help preparing for interviewing. This professor has also co-authored about a dozen published articles with students and participated in countless joint research projects and conference presentations, all helping to establish the confidence in them to be successes in their field.

She has contributed to high-quality teaching at Gustavus in many ways beyond her own classroom and department. She mentors new faculty members both individually and through New Faculty Orientation, has served on the Writing Across the Curriculum Advisory Board, and contributes to the college’s curriculum discussions in countless ways formal and informal.

Before officially announcing this year’s recipient, I would like to read something that she herself wrote: “My objectives are to help students weigh evidence, read and think critically, reflect thoughtfully and express ideas with precision and grace. I help them become persons who have learned how to learn, who love connections among ideas, and who revel in the intellectual journey as much as the destination. … I help students gain a sense of vocation. I help students explore their deep idealism and desire to work toward a socially and environmentally just world. I advise them, challenge them, encourage travel across the globe or in the wilderness so they can observe and better understand ‘otherness.’ I try to help them recognize how the world’s issues intersect with their life choices, to recognize their own power and privilege and to work toward helping others, including non-humans, thrive.”

It is my privilege and pleasure to announce that the recipient of the 2017 Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching is Professor Pamela Kittelson, Department of Biology. Pam received her BA from The Colorado College, her MA from Humboldt State, and her PhD from the University of California, Davis. She joined the Gustavus faculty in 1999 and was promoted to professor in 2011. She teaches courses ranging from the introductory Biology courses for both majors and non-majors to 300-level courses on plant physiology and ecology. And, as noted before, she is an active researcher and conference presenter, often with her students – a model of the teacher-scholar.

Presented by Eric Carlson
Professor of History
2016 Recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award


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