Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching

2021-2022 Award Winners

Congratulations banner for Graduate Student Award in Teaching Excellence Recipients.

Congratulations to Aaron Higgins-Brake (Philosophy), Yashika Kamte (Pharmacy), William King (Biological Sciences), Brad Landry (Clinical Psychology), and Brianna Ports (Biological Sciences)! They all received the Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching

2021 - 2022 Graduate Student Award Finalists

Past Graduate Student Award Winners

2021 - 2022 Award Submission Guidelines

The Office of the Provost confers a university-wide Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching at the annual spring Celebration of Teaching Excellence. Up to four $500 awards are presented each year: two to the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, one to the Bayer School for Natural and Environmental Sciences, and one to the School of Pharmacy.

The purpose of the award is to promote and reward teaching effectiveness by current graduate students and to provide award nominees with training on how to present evidence of teaching excellence.

Selection Criteria

Award dossiers need to provide evidence of the following:

  • Mastery of basics of teaching (preparation, clear communication of course content, effective use of time, engagement of students in learning, approachability and availability to students, feedback on learning, and fairness in grading)
  • Professional interactions with faculty and graduate student colleagues about teaching
  • Ability to reflect on teaching and apply what they learn from feedback


Each nominee must:

  • Is a current graduate student in my department at Duquesne University and does not hold a full-time teaching appointment at Duquesne University
  • Have taught at Duquesne University within a year of the award nomination
  • Have served as a teaching assistant (TA) for at least two courses at Duquesne University (this might include intensive or summer courses). Teaching is broadly defined to include traditional independent teaching of a class, online teaching, teaching done in pairs, as well as significant instruction in lab and recitation.
  • Participate in a Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) training program on presenting evidence of excellence in teaching and submit the resulting teaching portfolio by Monday, February 7, 2022 by 4pm.

A graduate student who is nominated, but does not win, is eligible to be nominated again in subsequent years.

Award Process

The award process was established through careful deliberation of the Provost, the Center for Teaching Excellence, and representative deans, faculty, and TAs. Our goals are to establish an award that has value and recognizes quality teaching, to provide training to TAs on how to submit a teaching award dossier, and to be equitable and open in our award process.

Nomination-- Each department chair is responsible for seeing that appropriate nominations are submitted as a single PDF by 4:00 pm on Monday, October 11, 2021 to Dr. Erin Rentschler at

The Nomination Form is to be completed by the chair or a faculty mentor from the TA's own academic department, and must be signed by the chair and dean. No other form or means will be considered an official nomination.

The number of official nominations is to be determined by each school. The university-wide award guidelines do not limit these, but clearly, nominees must meet the three selection criteria outlined above. All official nominees who complete the training process and submit an award dossier will receive recognition. Four people will receive the award.

Preparation of the Dossier--Upon receipt of the nomination letter from the department, the TA Award Committee will invite the nominee to consult with CTE in order to prepare a dossier which presents the nominee’s teaching experience. Nominees will include a copy of the official nomination letter in their dossier.

Evaluation of Dossiers--The TA Award Committee will evaluate all dossiers and choose the winners. Winners will be announced in Spring 2022.

Certificate--All TAs who are officially nominated and who complete and submit a dossier by 4pm on February 7, 2022, will receive a certificate, a book on college teaching, and a letter describing the process in which they participated. They will be recognized at the Celebration of Teaching Excellence.

Award Ceremony--The winners will receive $500, a certificate, a book on college teaching, and a letter from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs David Dausey. The awards will be conferred at the Celebration of Teaching Excellence in the Spring.

TA Award Dossier
The award portfolio will contain the following materials.

  • Official nomination form
  • One additional faculty recommendation 
  • One graduate-peer recommendation 
  • Faculty mentor teaching observation within a year of the award nomination from a Duquesne faculty member other than the one making the nomination.  Nominee must be observed while teaching a class at Duquesne University.
  • Graduate student peer observation of teaching
  • Statement of teaching philosophy
  • List and brief description of post-secondary courses taught
  • Two types of instructional materials, such as:
    • Syllabus
    • Lab assignment or prelab notes
    • Lesson plan
    • Assignment, quiz or test
  • A brief reflection on each instructional material
  • Student evaluation summaries with a brief reflection
  • Description of professional interactions about teaching

Award Timeline

  • Nomination letters are due to CTE on October 11, 2021
  • CTE consultations with nominees, October 2021 - January 2022
  • Dossiers due to CTE on February 7, 2022, by 4 pm
  • Awards will be conferred at the Annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence

Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching 2021-2022 Committee

Committee Chair
Dr. Erin Rentschler, Associate Director for Faculty Development, CTE (non-voting)

Bethany Kaser, Instructional Consultant for TAs, CTE (non-voting)

Each school will be represented by both faculty and graduate students.

McAnulty College of Liberal Arts

Stephanie Gray, Assistant Professor of Public History, Department of History 

Derek Hook, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Adam Ahlgrim, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of English

Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Paul Lummis, Assistant Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Catherine Bruno, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Biological Sciences

School of Pharmacy

Devika Soundara Manickam, Assistant Professor

Ketki Velankar, Graduate Teaching Assistant

If you have any questions, contact the Center for Teaching Excellence at 412-396-5177 or