Please join me in congratulating UNC Asheville’s 2012 Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, Dr. Ellen Holmes Pearson. Having joined the History Department in 2003, Ellen Pearson teaches History and Humanities as well as Honors and LSIC courses. She encourages her students to make cross-cultural connections and enhances diversity in the curriculum whether in an American history survey, Humanities 324, or one of the new courses she has developed such as American Indian History and History of the Atlantic World. Students describe her as engaging, challenging, constructively critical, and inventive. One states, “she has the ability to captivate an audience, whether she is describing the suffering of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears during a lecture in the Humanities Hall or discussing the earliest colonial settlers in her classroom.” Exemplifying her inventiveness and creativity, she once responded to the challenge of helping her students sense the amazement felt by indigenous men and women in the early sixteenth century when first confronted with Europeans by dramatically bursting into the classroom reciting an excerpt from El Requiremiento (in bad Spanish, she claims, but spoken loudly and authoritatively). Students were able to experience briefly how startling it must have been for Native Americans to be told in a language they did not understand of demands to be subject to Spanish rule or be enslaved. No wonder one student wrote that class was never boring but added that earning an A was something to be proud of from this demanding, excellent teacher.
Ellen Pearson’s book, Remaking Custom: Law and Identity in the Early American Republic, was published last fall and praised as a valuable, well-written and thoroughly documented study of the development of the American legal system. In addition to her excellence in teaching and scholarship, Dr. Pearson serves many important roles on campus and in the community from the South Asheville Cemetery Association to the Madison County Arts Council and is described by her Department Chair as an “exemplary faculty citizen.” In nominating Dr. Pearson, a colleague said “she represents a great many aspects of what a first-rate university professor ought to be doing as a scholar, as a teacher, as a citizen, and as a human being. . . . She deserves this teaching award.”
Congratulations, Dr. Pearson!
Jane K. Fernandes
Jane K. Fernandes, PhD | Provost & Vice Chancellor
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