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2018 Awards of Excellence

close up of UW Award of Excellence medal

At a special celebration on June 7, the University of Washington presented 2018 Awards of Excellence to faculty, staff, students, and distinguished alumni to recognize their exceptional contributions to the UW and the community. Among the recipients were 11 from the College of Arts and Sciences.

The following is based on remarks made by UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Baldasty.


Distinguished Teaching Award

Megan Ming Francis, Associate Professor
Political Science
Megan Ming Francis headshot

As one of Megan Ming Francis’ undergraduate students notes, “The gift of listening is a lost art in today’s world of divisive politics and quick reposts, but Professor Francis listens willingly and encourages even the most facile debate to lead her students toward the art of finding the logic behind a point of view.” Her lectures have purpose and provoke discussions that bring a higher level of thought. Another student describes Professor Francis as “a force of nature.”

Alexes Harris, Presidential Term Professor
Alexes Harris headshot

Alexes Harris’ chair describes her impact on students as “deep and durable.” In her classes, students learn to focus their interests. Her high expectations prompt them to commit to their studies — and to their lives. She provides ample opportunities for students interested in social-scientific research by allowing them to work on her own research studies. By working with student athletes and serving as an adviser to ethnic community organizations, Professor Harris contributes significantly to the student experience.

Frances McCue, Senior Lecturer
Frances McCue headshot

At the epicenter of Frances McCue’s pedagogy is the connection between practice and reflection. In her classes, students reflect on how they learn, what they draw upon when they encounter something new and where they go to find resources. She pushes students to reach the next level as writers, thinkers, researchers, collaborators, discussion leaders and discussion participants. “The course,” one student said, “is not merely an academic exercise, it is a meditation on our lives and situations.”

Ekin Yaşin, Senior Lecturer
Associate Director, Communication Leadership Program
Ekin Yasin headshot

Ekin Yaşin brings the world into her classroom. Drawing on her own global experiences, she introduces students to contemporary issues through different cultural lenses and helps them appreciate internationally diverse points of view. At the same time, she encourages robust conversations among students. She uses humor and warmth to connect with students without sacrificing a bit of academic rigor. Moreover, in the words of a colleague, “She presents complex ideas without eliminating complexity.”

Excellence in Teaching Award

Sarah Faulkner, Instructor and PhD Candidate
Sarah Faulkner headshote

Sarah Faulkner is one of the most passionate and accomplished teachers her chair has seen in years. As the instructor of record for eight courses taught during the nine-month academic year, her students give her the highest of marks for “instructor’s contribution.” Last autumn she organized JaneFest, a celebration of the life and works of Jane Austen, drawing more than 600 participants. As one student wrote, she made “a required English class worth coming to because I knew I would learn something.”

Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning Award

P. Dee Boersma, Professor
Dee Boersma headshot

It is impossible to overstate the impact that Dee Boersma has had on conservation science education worldwide. She has inspired a generation of undergraduates to think critically about conservation issues. At the graduate and postdoctoral levels, she has taught many scientists who have become conservation science leaders in government, nongovernmental organizations and academia. Professor Boersma writes for general as well as professional audiences. She is in constant demand as an onboard naturalist for UW Alumni cruises to Antarctica and the Galapagos. Dee Boersma exemplifies the UW commitment to innovation in lifelong education for audiences of all ages, across the globe.

University Faculty Lecture Award

Quintard Taylor, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History
Quintard Taylor headshot

In the words of UW historian Michael Honey, “How can we possibly understand the complex region we live in and the complicated nation we inhabit without the deeply grounded historical work of Quintard Taylor? We can’t. It would be a great boon to all of us to hear him provide a summative, provocative, or other kind of lecture on African American and American history in the great American and Pacific Northwest.”

Distinguished Staff Award

Kelly Canaday, Adviser and Program Manager

Kelly is known as a fierce advocate for students, from helping them secure stable housing to reserving seats for underrepresented-minority students in entry-level courses. No wonder the number of students pursuing a dance major has risen dramatically since she became adviser! She is an inspired recruiter and a savvy guide who helps students navigate the dance major. Her empathy, commitment to access, efficiency and generous spirit are deeply appreciated by her whole department.

Wai Pang Chan, Research Coordinator
Wai Pang Chan headshot

Pang embodies the phrase “innovation mindset.” He’s always learning about the newest technology advances and putting that knowledge to work in keeping the Natural Sciences Division’s high-end, high-priced equipment in excellent condition. And he’s a champion at finding cost-effective ways to get the latest and greatest technology tools for our students and faculty. A born problem solver, Pang’s devotion is well known, perhaps most famously when he worked until 3:30 a.m. to restore server access while on vacation halfway around the world.

Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award

Ralina Joseph, Associate Professor 
Director, Center for Communication, Difference and Equity


Ralina Joseph headshot

Among her many accomplishments, Ralina created the Interrupting Privilege seminar, a program for students and alumni to exchange ideas about race and equity. The seminar has proven extremely popular, thanks to her leadership and passion. She is an extraordinary teacher and thinker, devoted to her students of every generation. The UW Alumni Association is deeply grateful for her partnership and service as she makes a difference in how students and alumni relate to each other and the world around them.

President's Medal

Grace Shannon Woodard
Grace Shannon Woodard

A lifelong Husky despite growing up in Cougar country, Grace has pursued her passion for developmental psychology and childhood resilience at the UW. A stellar performer in the classroom and the lab, she conducted research through the UW Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress, taking on a leadership role to support her team. She plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is an outstanding example of what passion and determination can achieve.