The Central European University (CEU) established the European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities in order to promote excellence in teaching across the European Higher Education Area. The honour is the first and only pan-European award for excellence in teaching. The inaugural winner is Dr Eleanor Denny, an assistant professor of economics at Trinity College Dublin. Members of CEU’s leadership presented the award to Dr Denny as part of CEU’s 2012-2013 academic year opening ceremony on September 14.
“The committee was greatly impressed by Dr Denny’s overall achievements and teaching record, sophisticated and innovative teaching methods, effective integration of teaching and research, and her enthusiasm and leadership in teaching and learning at Trinity,” said chair of the selection committee Professor Patricia Albjerg Graham, Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education, Emerita, Harvard University.
Dr Denny, an early-career professor, is well known at Trinity for her interactive classroom activities and her commitment to sharing successful teaching methods. In September 2010, she was appointed director of undergraduate teaching and learning in the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Student evaluations reflect an overwhelming positive view of Dr Denny and her teaching style.
“I have always been passionate about teaching and learning and I find it incredibly rewarding to see my students grasp complex concepts and form their own opinions of the material I cover,” Dr Denny said. “I believe it is this passion combined with a creative imagination that continually spurs me to try new-and hopefully engaging-teaching and assessment methods. To have been singled out and awarded this prize is not only an incredible honor but an overwhelming and humbling experience. I cannot thank my own teachers, my colleagues, and CEU enough for this award and I sincerely hope that, through this award, I can assist CEU in continuing to promote excellence in teaching throughout Europe.”
Dr Denny’s recent initiatives outside the classroom include establishing teaching workshops for social science faculty and a mentoring programme for new faculty members and postgraduate teaching assistants. “She not only ensures that colleagues change their teaching, she leads us to want to change,” said her colleague, Professor James Wickham, dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “Indeed, thanks to her, we learn to learn.” She is also a winner of the Provost’s Award for Teaching at Trinity in 2010.
On the morning of Sept. 14, before receiving her award, Dr Denny participated in a roundtable discussion about teaching innovations with select CEU faculty and students at CEU’s Center for Teaching and Learning.
CEU’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Liviu Matei initiated the award as a way of calling attention to the importance of excellent teaching as well as research within European higher education. A selection committee of recognized experts considered 25 nominees from 10 countries.
The European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities will be bestowed annually, aligning with CEU’s commitment to distinguished and innovative teaching. The award and its accompanying 5,000 euro prize were made possible by funding from an anonymous donor “In Memory of Ilona Diener.”
For video clip of Dr Denny receiving the award visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViZ5Vh0S1ZQ.