By Jeremy Davidson
Daily Staff Reporter
Rather than giving thanks with a red apple, for the past 14 years Hillel has been honoring professors who inspire students beyond the classroom by rewarding them with a golden apple.
Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching, a student group within Hillel, is now accepting nominations for the 15th annual Golden Apple Award. Student nominations for the award will close on Feb. 25. The award recognizes a lecturer who reaches out to students beyond the classroom and delivers each lecture as if it were his or her last.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to show appreciation for teachers who have really affected their lives,” said LSA senior David Ravvin, co-chair of SHOUT.
After all nominations have been made, the group decides on a winner based on the number of nominations and the content of the student comments. The winner is notified in the middle of a lecture in early March.
Part of the concept for the award was inspired by a quote by Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos, who instructed his students 1,900 years ago to “get your life in order one day before you die.” Acting on this theme, the recipient delivers his or her ideal “last lecture” on April 11 in Mendelsohn Theater. The recipient receives a stipend of $1,000 to deliver this lecture.
“It’s really an honor for the teacher to be recognized by their students, and it’s really an honor to be chosen because it really shows that (the teacher) has made an impact on students’ lives outside the classroom,” Ravvin said.
Last year’s recipient was History Prof. Matthew Lassiter, who is currently on sabbatical but taught three history courses during the 2003-04 academic year. He finished writing a book last December titled “The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South” while on sabbatical. The book incorporates themes from two of the classes he taught in the fall 2003 semester — History 364: History of American Suburbia and History 688: Urban Crisis/Suburban Nation.
“It meant a lot to me (to be selected for the award) largely because it’s a student-initiated process,” Lassiter said.
Lassiter’s award lecture was titled “Alienation, Apathy and Activism: American Culture and the Depoliticization of Youth.”
“I decided to talk about news and politics in an effort to give something back to the students who nominated me for the award,” he said. “I wanted to give a lecture on something that was directly relevant to the political environment of the time.”
Lassiter said he was impressed with the organization of the SHOUT leaders for last year’s pr esentation. Lassiter plans to offer History 364: History of American Suburbia which he taught in the fall 2003 semester, again next fall.
Students can nominate a professor for the Golden Apple Award at www.umich.edu/~umshout