Arts faculty honored for teaching and advising

College of Arts and Sciences faculty members Benjamin Anderson and Saida Hodžić have been awarded the Robert and Helen Appel Fellowship for Humanists and Social Scientists, and Vivian Zayas and Edward Swartz have been awarded the Robert A. and Donna B. Paul Academic Advising Award.

The four will be honored at a May 26 trustee-faculty dinner recognizing universitywide teaching and advising, and newly tenured faculty.

The Paul academic advising fellowship was established in 1992 to honor undergraduate advisers who make a difference in the lives of their students. Recipients receive a stipend and a TA package for their department. Appel fellowships have recognized faculty excellence since 1995 and give recipients a semester’s sabbatical leave at full salary to write, develop new courses, conduct research or otherwise enrich their teaching and scholarship.

“These awards celebrate faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the college and to our students,” said Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences. “We are grateful to the Appels and the Pauls for their commitment to teaching and advising in the college, and their generous support of our exemplary faculty.”

Anderson, assistant professor of history of art and visual studies, focuses his research on the visual and material cultures of the eastern Mediterranean, with a particular focus on late antique and Byzantine art and architecture. His book, “Cosmos and Community in Early Medieval Art,” presents the first comparative study of cosmological art between 700 and 1000 A.D. and received the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award. In evaluations, students praise his pedagogical skills and innovative teaching methods, as well as his generosity with his time and expertise.

Hodžić, associate professor of anthropology, has research interests in development, human rights, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, critical theory and transnational feminisms. Her book, “The Twilight of Cutting: African Activism and Life after NGOs,” examines the effects of Ghanaian advocacy against female genital cutting and its transnational dimensions, and was awarded the Association for Feminist Anthropology’s 2017 Michelle Z. Rosaldo Prize. Students call her a “dynamic” facilitator who makes effective use of interactive learning and teaching strategies, and praise her generosity and commitment to her advisees.

Zayas, associate professor of psychology, studies the “relational mind,” asking questions like, “How do we mentally represent the emotional complexity of our close relationships?” “Why we are drawn to some people and not others?” and “How do we regulate threats to our self-esteem?” Her students call her passion for her research an inspiration and emphasize her extraordinary dedication to teaching and advising. She has been director for undergraduate studies since 2016.

Swartz, professor of mathematics, focuses on the interplay between combinatorics, geometry/topology and algebra, with an emphasis on matroids and combinatorial properties of simplicial complexes. His students praise his enthusiasm for his subject and his talent for making difficult material seem easy; how easy he is to approach; and how generous he is with advice and encouragement. Swartz served from 2014-17 as director of undergraduate studies.

A new award, the Morgan Chia-Wen Sze and Bobbi Josephine Hernandez Distinguished Teaching Prize – endowed by Sze ’87 and his wife, Hernandez ’87 – recognizes professorial faculty for excellence in teaching. It is awarded annually with a three-year cycle that alternates among the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Award recipients are encouraged to use a portion of the award to travel anywhere in the world of interest to them and through that travel “to bring the world back to Cornell” by hosting a reception on campus or writing about their experience.

The 2018 Sze/Hernandez Prize was awarded to Amy Villarejo, professor of performing and media arts, comparative literature, and feminist, gender and sexuality studies. The prize was also awarded posthumously to Lydia Fakundiny, senior lecturer in English who died in 2013, in recognition “of her transformative teaching of writing that benefited so many Cornell students through her class, The Art of the Essay,” Sze said.

Linda B. Glaser is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson