NYU Professors Identified as Distinguished


Collage Courtesy of Euan Prentis

The six NYU faculty members — Heidi White, Elena Cunningham, Gregory Erickson, John Halpin, Benard Dreyer and John Gorshman — have been awarded the 2017 University Distinguished Teaching Award. The recognition — received by nominations from students, faculty and alumni — is given to faculty who show prowess in their teaching ability.

Herman Lee, Staff Writer

Students aren’t the only ones who have been thinking outside the box, as demonstrated by the talent recognized by the University Distinguished Teaching Awards.

The winners of the awards for the 2016-2017 academic year were announced March 20 in an email to the NYU community. According to the email, six faculty members were given the award: basic science and craniofacial biology clinical professor Elena Cunningham, pediatrics professor Benard Dreyer, clinical associate professor Gregory Erickson, Wagner clinical professor John Gershman, chemistry clinical professor John Halpin and LS clinical professor Heidi White.

The award was designed to recognize faculty who have demonstrated excellence as educators over a sustained period of time, as explained on the NYU website. The winners are chosen based on nominations by students, faculty and alumni, and each school within NYU selects one candidate to send to the All-University Committee to make the final recommendation.

Cunningham said she thinks the award was granted to her because of the excellent teaching community at NYU. She also credited her success to the motivated students in her classes.

“I feel like I have a very great community that I work with, and so there is a lot of support to try new things,” Cunningham said. “There’s a real sense of community about finding the best way to teach, and that is very helpful in becoming a good teacher.”

Cunningham said that in addition to her fellow faculty members and the administration, her students at the College of Dentistry have also helped her cultivated a great teaching experience.

Halpin said that he enjoys teaching at NYU because of the students he interacts with. He particularly appreciates that he can help students understand their potential.

“Instead of struggling to help them to learn, it’s helping them to learn just how capable they can be,” Halpin said. “I’m an NYU graduate myself, so it’s very nice to still be here and see how the student body has changed since I was a student.”

Halpin also said that he is glad that the profession of teaching can have such a direct impact on students. He enjoys the immediate gratification of watching his students succeed.

One of Halpin’s students, School of Medicine graduate student Ravi Pancholi, said that Halpin is an inspirational professor who gave her helpful direction on teaching.

“He gave me some of the best advice I ever had when I first started off teaching,” Pancholi said. “[He said] something along the lines of, ‘The role of a teacher isn’t just to provide their students with information — it is to inspire them and to lead them along a path based on the teacher’s own experiences, giving them the information that can make them better learners.’”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 27 print edition. Email Herman Lee at [email protected].