Three College Professors Honored at Faculty Convocation & Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Awards
January 13, 2020 – Nathan Hensley (Department of English), Catherine Keesling (Department of Classics), and Manus Patten (Department of Biology) will receive the prestigious Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award at Faculty Convocation. This award is given to those faculty members who have demonstrated that they are exceptional educators deeply committed to enriching the undergraduate experience.
“Georgetown College is privileged to count among its faculty members such masterful and dedicated teachers,” says Dean of Georgetown College Chris Celenza. “Their work links research to the classroom evinces a finely-honed sense of intellectual curiosity and embodies the spirit of cura personalis for which we all strive at Georgetown. I congratulate them and am proud to be their colleague.”
Hensley researches nineteenth-century British literature, critical theory, and the novel in addition to Anglophone modernism, environmental humanities, and the cultures of contemporary globalization. He has collaborated on such projects as the Georgetown Environmental Initiative and the Modernities Working Group, and he directed the 2015 Lannan Symposium, “In Nature’s Wake: The Art and Politics of Environmental Crisis.” He is particularly grateful for the support and recognition of his peers.
“I’m thrilled to have been awarded one of this year’s Deans’ Awards for Excellence in Teaching. It’s particularly meaningful to me because I was nominated for it by my colleagues in English, which means that some of my own mentors — the people I think are the best teachers around — have seen something in what I’ve been doing that they value. This means a lot.”
He also notes the enormous impact that his students have had during his time teaching at Georgetown.
“Everyone who teaches here knows it’s an enormous privilege to think alongside our brilliant Georgetown undergrads,” says Hensley. “The students have taught me so much: they’ve pushed our thoughts in surprising directions and opened new angles, every single class session, on what I thought I knew. I think of this award as a testament to those conversations, which means it’s a collective honor. I’ll keep the plaque on the shelf in my office, so any former student can come claim it for a day or two. It really belongs to them, and I’m grateful for the chance to hold onto it on their behalf.”
Hensley’s continued dedication to his students and research have not gone unnoticed by his peers.
“The Department of English is lucky to claim Nathan Hensley as a colleague,” says Department of English chair Ricardo Ortiz. “He’s as gifted a teacher as he is brilliant a scholar, and he brings those gifts to bear every day in his work with students: in the classroom, in his mentoring of student research, and in his commitment to the value of cura personalis. Prof. Hensley embodies the best in humanities education, through the unique opportunities he offers students to read carefully, think critically, and care for the worlds they encounter, both in their reading and beyond.”
Keesling is a professor of Greek sculpture, Greek epigraphy and ancient historiography at Georgetown. She has published two books, Early Greek Portraiture, and The Votive Statues of the Athenian Acropolis and teaches classes such as Monuments and Memory and Ancient Greek Religion. She attributes her success as an instructor to her fellow educators and the students that she is able to interact with every day.
“To say I am honored to be given this award is a major understatement,” says Keesling. “It is easy to become a good teacher when you have such great students and such a supportive department, as I do.”
Keesling is able to transcend her rich knowledge of the subject matter to modern times, which makes her classes particularly engaging and thought-provoking.
“Catherine Keesling is a brilliant teacher of the history, archaeology, and language of ancient Greece,” says chair of the Department of Classics Josiah Osgood. “Students in her classes learn how to study the lost landscapes of ancient Greece — and the present-day cityscape of Washington DC. In doing so, they become aware of the history and memories that surround us and the way that buildings, monuments, and other works of art shape our culture.”
Patten is a teaching professor for the biology department at Georgetown. He has been published in Evolution, Molecular Ecology, Nature Plants and Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Patten attributes his success as an instructor to his colleagues.
“I’m grateful for the recognition,” says Patten. “I belong to two teams when it comes to teaching—the Biology faculty and the college’s Full Time Non-Tenure Line teaching faculty—and this feels like recognition for the good work both teams do.”
Patten teaches several courses, and regularly leads Foundations in Biology II. Though the course is larger in size and is rigorous, he takes the time to mentor each student. This level of dedication to undergraduate success has not gone unnoticed.
“Manus Patten has been a very strong positive influence on teaching and scholarship in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University,” says chair of the Department of Biology Mark Rose. “Among his many standout qualifies, Manus champions original undergraduate research, running our Research-Intensive Senior Experience program, as well as mentoring his own students, many of whom have become co-authors of research papers. He is an outstanding lecturer, creating an environment where students have a great time while engaging deeply with the science. Finally, he is fully committed to increasing diversity in the sciences.” Referring to his work with the Regents Science Scholars program, he says “I want for all my students to feel like they belong… to see themselves as scientists.”
The nominees will receive recognition for their superb instruction on January 22, 2020 in the Davis Center’s Gonda Theatre.
-by Shelby Roller (G’19)