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Freedman, Taylor honored for undergraduate teaching

Professors Estelle Freedman and John Taylor received Lilian and Thomas B. Rhodes Prizes for excellence in undergraduate teaching during recent departmental ceremonies.

The award to Taylor was presented June 15 at the Economics Department diploma ceremony after the university-wide commencement exercises. Freedman received her award on June 5 at the annual reception honoring students and faculty in the interdisciplinary Program in Feminist Studies.

Freedman was honored for her contributions to, and leadership of, the program. Taylor was honored for his service to the undergraduate curriculum.

Established in 1991, the Rhodes Prizes celebrate the dedication and commitment to teaching of the Stanford faculty. Selection is made by the dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, acting upon recommendations from department chairs and associate deans of the schools of Earth Sciences and Engineering. Each prize carries a stipend of $4,000.

Freedman, who joined the Stanford faculty in 1976, is a professor of history and chair of the Program in Feminist Studies. Faculty colleagues described her teaching in personal terms. One wrote, "I came away from her lecture feeling uplifted, inspired and enlightened. From the looks on students' faces, they had the same experience as I." Another commented on how "her work has enriched the lives of countless young women and men who have benefited from the courses and programs she inspired."

Students praised Freedman's special qualities with exclamations of appreciation ­ "best lecturer I ever had!" "SPECIAL," "amazing," "wonderful" ­ and said their lives changed as a result of Freedman's classes. One wrote, "I now see the world differently and I see myself differently. This class was truly about educating." The award honors Freedman for her leadership in building the interdisciplinary program and for her energy and enthusiasm for high standards of scholarship in the field.

Taylor is the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics and the current director of the Center for Economic Policy Research. He joined the faculty at Stanford in 1984 and has earned a reputation for teaching excellence. In his course in elementary economics, which is taken by large numbers of undergraduates, Taylor has achieved "unprecedented levels of enthusiasm on the part of students," according to a colleague. His service to undergraduate education extends to leadership of the Academic Council's Committee on Undergraduate Studies, which Taylor will chair in 1997-98.

Students praised Taylor's humor, dedication, patience and commitment, and many were inspired by his teaching to pursue advanced study in the field. One student wrote, "No professor ever has made me want to come to class so much. It is obvious that he really cares about the students." Another found that Taylor's "patience and compassion were endless ­ he would stay at office hours until everyone understood the answers to all their questions."


By Kathleen O'Toole