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Two Earn Distinguished Teaching Award

UC Riverside Academic Senate Honors Two Distinguished Teachers

Historian Roger Ransom and Biologist Leah Haimo Earn Top Honors

(May 22, 2003)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- The Academic Senate at the University of California, Riverside today awarded Professor Roger Ransom in the Department of History and Professor Leah Haimo in the Department of Biology the Distinguished Teaching Award for 2002-2003. The annual awards are based on student evaluation and peer reviews.

“Both recipients richly deserve this recognition for their passionate and inspiring teaching of undergraduate and graduate students,” said Sharon Salinger, a professor of history who chaired the selection committee.

Professor Ransom, writes a former colleague, “is brilliant, brimming with energy, generous, and utterly committed to his students.” He is also a celebrated scholar of economic history whose research on the American Civil War and Post Bellum Southern history has gained international attention. Ransom was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1987-88, and next fall he will become president-elect of the Economic History Association.

Professor Ransom came to the UC Riverside Department of Economics in the fall of 1968 and moved to the Department of History in Fall, 1984. For the past ten years he has been a fixture in the “20th Century World” class that regularly fills the largest lecture halls on the campus. “Students comment that they approached this required course reluctantly only to be transformed by Professor Ransom’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and commitment,” Salinger said.

Professor Ransom has experienced even more success in his upper division courses, especially in his specialty the American Civil War. These classes fill to capacity. Students report how passionate he is about the material and how he makes the maps come alive. A student noted, “His enthusiasm for history was infectious.” Professor Ransom has been a dedicated mentor for graduate students as well. He served as the graduate advisor for many years and offers core seminars for the program in American History.

“Winning this award is very special for me,” Ransom said. “In my classroom I try to make history come alive for the students in the hope that it will encourage them to realize that the past is the present and the future too. To have my efforts recognized by my students and my colleagues is truly a great honor.”

Professor Haimo, who arrived at UC Riverside in 1980, is a dedicated teacher committed to all levels of instruction. She has taught large lecture courses for non majors as well as the required introductory course for biology majors. She regularly teaches an upper division class in cell biology and she created a laboratory based course in cell and molecular biology.

"I try to impart to students a sense of the excitement of scientific discovery which makes the field of cell biology so fascinating," she said. "My philosophy of teaching is to try to stimulate students to think critically and analytically rather than simply to learn what is known. It is very rewarding when students willingly leave the comfortable realm of memorization of facts and instead learn to think like a scientist."

Students in Professor Haimo’s classes cite her energy and enthusiasm, and comment on her high standards. Many express how grateful they are that she pushed them to achieve their best. Students who work in her laboratory admire her patience and clarity. Graduate students praise her rigor in the laboratory and her commitment to her research and to them. Over the course of her career at UCR, Professor Haimo has taught huge numbers of students and their comments reveal that she has had an enormous impact on their lives.

Mark Springer, chair of the biology department, praised her teaching excellence and the way she inspires her students to work through challenging research problems. He noted that she has been invited to teach courses at the prestigious Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Professor Haimo’s dedication includes serving as the undergraduate advisor in Biology and the graduate advisor for cell, molecular, and developmental Biology.

"The Distinguished Teaching Award is an unexpected honor, and I sincerely thank my colleagues and students for their support," said Haimo. "I feel humbled to be in the company of my distinguished colleagues who have won this award in years past and know that there are many others on this campus who could have been chosen for this award and whose excellent teaching I hope will be so honored in the future."

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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