History Sweeps LAS Teaching Awards

Date

02/10/20

The Department of History heartily congratulates Professor Rana Hogarth for winning the LAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and PhD Candidate Beth Ann Williams for winning the LAS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant.  These awards testify to Professor Hogarth's and Beth Anne's exceptional teaching record, their willingness to go above and beyond in guiding and supporting their students, and their commitment to innovative and inclusive pedagogy. Additionally, they continue the History Department's tradition of excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

Dr. Rana Hogarth's teaching record is, in a word, superlative. A historian of slavery, race, and medicine in the Atlantic World, Dr. Hogarth joined the Illinois History Department in 2013. Since then, Dr. Hogarth has taught no fewer than nine different courses at virtually all levels: From  introductory courses in U.S. History (HIST 171) and methodology (HIST 200) to advanced courses focusing on public health (HIST 475), historiography (HIST 492), and slavery and society in the Atlantic World (HIST 570). Her colleague and Chair of the History Teaching Awards Committee Dr. Tamara Chaplin lauds Dr. Hogarth for imbuing "our campus with sensitivity, wit, and compassion, guiding students in the acquisition of the key skills - critical thinking, textual analysis, lucid oratory, fluent writing - that enable them to analyze both the historical past and the contemporary present." The most popular adjective undergraduates use to describe their experiences with Dr. Hogarth is "empowering": Dr. Hogarth inspires them to think about why the study of history is so deeply important to understanding the world and to develop their own voices as budding historians. Dr. Hogarth combines rigor, seriousness, humor, and empathy in equal measure in her teaching and mentoring; it is no surprise that many students enroll in multiple classes with Dr. Hogarth during their time at Illinois. Ultimately, the highest praise for Dr. Hogarth's teaching comes directly from her students: "Everyone should take a class with her - not only would they learn a lot, but we would all get along so much better if we all studied the kinds of things that she teaches us about."

Beth Ann Williams is a historian of gender and religion in post-colonial East Africa dedicated to offering her students the ability to find the confidence to voice their own views and  to develop evidence-based arguments. Although a specialist in Modern African history, Beth Ann's teaching at the University of Illinois has ranged from serving as a teaching assistant for a course on race formation in America (HIST 281) to teaching an advanced course on digital history and the public humanities (HIST 491). She has also had an opportunity to teach within her specialized field, teaching "Introduction to African History" (HIST 110) in Spring 2019. Beth Ann's pedagogy is based on the principle of collaboration: "Turning students into teachers empowers them to serve as specialists on their material." She seeks to instill in her students a "combination of intellectual ability and ethical engagement [that] will equip them to make thoughtful decisions about their lives and goals for the future." Students enthusiastically praise Beth Ann for "helping [them] to think critically and not accept common perception as fact," for being "both inclusive and understanding," and for "pushing her students to take their ideas and expand them." Beth Ann's passion for teaching and care for her students is evident to her students, one of whom has summarized Beth Ann's teaching philosophy as follows: "Ms. Williams' constant goals as a teacher consist of helping each student grow as a communicator, so they can better live our their drams and values; to give students a better understanding of the world around them so they can move through it more justly and kindly."

The Department of History is lucky to have teachers of the quality of Dr. Hogarth and Beth Ann in its faculty and graduate student ranks. While recognizing their excellence, we would also like to acknowledge the unceasing and phenomenal work of all our faculty and graduate assistants in teaching as well as research. History at Illinois is proud to have them as colleagues and as friends.