October 18, 2011
The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) has selected Alexander J. Werth, Elliott Professor of Biology at Hampden-Sydney College, as the 2011 recipient of The Hiter H. Harris, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The award recognizes Werth for his clear and abiding commitment to the craft of classroom teaching, the teaching-learning process, and the development of each student as an individual.
The Harris Award was created through an endowment gift from the family of the late Hiter Harris Jr., a leading Virginia banker and a member of VFIC's board from 1973-98 and includes a stipend to support the recipient's scholarly research and professional development activities. The Harris family endowed the award to highlight the special features of VFIC colleges and universities by recognizing faculty members "whose professional history reflects a strong, clear and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences."
In announcing the 2011 Harris Award recipient, Robert Woltz, chairman of VFIC, noted that "the selection committee focused on four criteria in the review process - the nominee's impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and, endorsements from colleagues and current or former students. We are pleased to recognize Dr. Werth for his 19-year commitment to the students at Hampden-Sydney College and around the country."
A graduate of Duke University with a Ph.D. from Harvard, "Dr. Werth is an accomplished scholar who publishes extensively within his scientific discipline; he publishes articles at a rate that is laudable for a scholar at a small liberal arts college with an especially heavy teaching load," notes Robert Herdegen, dean of the faculty at Hampden-Sydney College. "He is an extraordinary teacher, who teaches by example. Students see that he puts into practice the lessons that he gives them, demonstrating that one can gain full appreciation of the world in which we live only with a knowledge and understanding of sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Students learn these lessons in his classroom, but they also learn by emulating the example he sets for them."