Rosie Bsheer and Joanne Freeman among six faculty members awarded Yale College teaching prizes

May 10, 2018

Generous,” “innovative,” “engaging,” “refreshing,” “dedicated”: These are just some of the words students used to describe this year’s winners of Yale College teaching prizes.

The six winners of the university’s top prizes recognizing undergraduate teaching excellence were honored in a ceremony on May 7 in Sterling Memorial Library attended by many of the students who nominated the faculty members, along with some of their colleagues. This year’s winners are Joanne Freeman, Andrew Ehrgood, Timothy Newhouse, Harrison Huibin Zhou, Rosie Bsheer, and Kurt Zilm.

Yale College Dean Marvin Chun presented the annual awards. Calling Yale “the research institution most dedicated to teaching and learning,” he explained that what makes this university special is that its faculty members are both distinguished scholars in their fields and highly dedicated teachers who make classroom learning a top priority.

Chun noted that the teachers were chosen for the awards based on the recommendations of students, who applauded and cheered as their teachers were presented the awards by Chun. 

The following are the awards and citations:

Joanne Freeman — The Sidonie Miskimin Clauss ’75 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities

Joanne Freeman, professor of history and of American studies, your students have praised you over the years for bringing “the past to life,” and for your dedication to teaching, both in and out of the classroom.

They say again and again how generous you are with your time and advice, and in particular how their writing has improved under your guidance. Your students love your stories as much as they love your teaching style.

One of them appreciates how you teach that “what is often most interesting about history is that which initially goes unnoticed or unappreciated.” Another says, “I am so thankful that I have been able to start and finish my time here at Yale with a professor who is exactly the kind of person I always envisioned Yale’s professors to be: an expert in her field, with a clear passion for it, who is able to inspire that passion in others.”

For your enthusiasm and devotion to teaching, Yale College proudly awards the Sidonie Miskimin Clauss ’75 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities to you, Joanne Freeman.

Rosie Bsheer — The Sarai Ribicoff ’79 Prize

(This prize is award to a non-tenured member of the Yale College faculty in the humanities division whose “instruction and character reflect the qualities of independence, innovation, and originality” that were exemplified by the life and thought of the distinguished alumna for whom it is named.)

Rosie Bsheer, assistant professor of history, your students praise your “ferociously extensive knowledge” and are grateful for the “desire for knowledge” that they have after taking your courses.

From your teaching in an “exceedingly popular and coveted” first-year seminar, “Oil and Empire,” to your advanced courses on Middle East History, you have a “reputation for encouraging students to strive for rigorous and careful thought.” Students who have taken your first-year seminar feel as though you’re giving them a foundation for their future terms at Yale with your expectations and assignments.

Your students note your ability to change the way they “perceive the world.”  They appreciate how you challenge them, one of them noting that your courses are “popular not for their ease but rather for their difficulty” and that a teaching prize should go to someone who is “inspiring students to seek out new challenges, to question popular assumptions, and to stretch the limits of their understanding.”

For these reasons, Yale College proudly bestows the Sarai Ribicoff ‘75 Award for the Encouragement of Teaching to you, Rosie Bsheer.