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2014 Dean’s Award: Clifford Robinson

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

One of the faculty members who nominated Clifford Robinson for a 2014 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching called him a natural in the classroom. Robinson, however, isn’t one to rely on innate affinity alone.

Robinson has sought out numerous opportunities to improve as a teacher, such as serving as a classroom instructor and taking part in professional and pedagogical development. He has participated in three programs offered by The Graduate School—the Certificate in College Teaching program, the Preparing Future Faculty program, and the Bass Instructional Fellowship.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Multiple faculty members who nominated Robinson for the award remarked about the work he has put in to improve his teaching. The students in his classes have taken note, too. For instance, the student evaluations of his Latin classes improved from his first to second term, and students have praised his accessibility, responsiveness, flexibility, and ability to make the subject interesting.

One example of Robinson’s effort to meet students’ needs is the solution he devised to cope with the limited time available to address cultural questions that students raise in Latin courses. He created a WordPress blog, where he provides maps and images with commentary to clarify the texts. He is also working with his students on a collective translation project that will be disseminated into the public domain.

“This project speaks to Cliff’s creativity,” one faculty members says, “and to his desire to inspire students by helping them complete a project that will give them a sense of accomplishment.”

Comments from Faculty and Students

“His ability to conduct class discussions, bounce ideas off the students, and teach the subject matter is fantastic. Latin is at times a tiresome and laborious language, but Cliff makes it interesting and fun.”

“He communicated the material clearly, concisely, and with an obvious love for the subject … dividing the nearly two-hour session into a variety of activities, each of which opened up the texts students had prepared in different ways.”

“[Robinson] is one of the few ‘naturals’ I have observed in a long career of such observations, with an unusual ability to digest student remarks, find commonalities or points of particular interest, and turn that into an interesting or even inspiring comment or question. He is, in short, a very skilled leader of discussion, a talent which obviously translates beyond the role of instructor.”

“His dossier is unusual for a graduate student in that he has had to muster and command the full panoply of the tools of the trade in order to make such a diversity of courses and populations ‘work.’ He is now at the top of his game.”

About Clifford Robinson

Clifford “Cliff” Robinson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Classical Studies. His dissertation research is titled “The Politics of Consolation: Ambivalent Mourning in Latin Consolatory Literature.” Robinson is also completing a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and a Certificate in College Teaching. He earned his BA with honors in English, philosophy, and multidisciplinary studies (classics) at East Carolina University. 7271