Three faculty members were named recently as winners of the 2014 Kathleen Compton Sherrerd ’54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prizes for Distinguished Teaching. They are: Rodger Blum, dance professor and department chair; Caroline Melly, assistant professor of anthropology; and Mary Murphy, senior lecturer of mathematics and statistics. Each year, Smith students, faculty and alumnae submit nominations for the Sherrerd teaching prize, which recognizes the distinguished teaching records and demonstrated enthusiasm and excellence of Smith faculty members. It has become a symbol of the value, commitment and dedication Smith places on superior pedagogy.
The award was established in 2002 with a generous contribution to Smith by the late Kathleen Sherrerd ’54 and John Sherrerd. Their donation was given with the specific purpose of initiating an annual prize to recognize outstanding teaching at Smith.
This year’s recipients will be formally recognized at the Sherrerd teaching prize ceremony and reception on October 16, 2014, which is open to the Smith community. View a list of past Sherrerd Award winners.
Dance Professor and Department Chair Rodger Blum has been a member of the Smith faculty since 1993; he is an accomplished dancer, ballet master and choreographer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in ballet performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts and a master’s in choreography from the University of California, Irvine. At UCI, his thesis mentor was Donald McKayle, famed choreographer and writer best known for creating socially conscious performance works during the 1950s and 1960s. While serving as chair of the dance program at the Performing Arts School in Louisville, Kentucky, Blum was honored with an excellence in teaching award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. He was also ballet master and soloist for the Raleigh Dance Theatre. At Smith, Blum teaches ballet and dance production and technique, as well as pairing dance with technology and video.
Caroline Melly is assistant professor of anthropology. She is a sociocultural anthropologist with a focus on how transnational processes and linkages—such as migration and foreign investment practices—along with technology and media, are transforming urban spaces and livelihoods in contemporary Africa. She earned her doctorate in anthropology in 2008 from the University of California, Irvine, where she received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program to travel to Dakar to conduct research for her dissertation, “Anticipating Returns: Investment, Migration and Urban Futures in Dakar, Senegal.” Melly plans to extend the scope of her research to consider how Senegalese migrants in the United States are shaping the capital city of Dakar and the nation of Senegal from afar. At Smith, she teaches courses on transnationalism and globalization, visual anthropology, gender, urban anthropology, the Internet and technology, and African studies.
Mary Murphy, senior lecturer of mathematics and statistics, is committed to reforming the methods used to teach precalculus. She holds a master of arts in teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Murphy and co-authors Judy Flagg Moran and Marsha Davis wrote the lab manual Precalculus in Context: Functioning in the Real World, now in its second edition, and have completed the second edition of the textbook Precalculus: Concepts in Context. Both books use a modern approach to teaching precalculus by emphasizing contexts in which mathematics can be used to solve problems in the real world. Murphy has volunteered several times to teach math at the Unidad Académica Campesina de Carmen Pampa, a college in rural Bolivia dedicated to providing higher education for indigenous youths. The school has been recognized by the United Nations as an award-winning model for the eradication of poverty.