Craib and Fiani win graduate, professional teaching prize

Two professors have won Cornell’s highest honors for teaching graduate and professional students.

Raymond Craib, the Marie Underhill Noll Professor of American History in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Nadine Fiani, associate clinical professor in the Section of Dentistry and Oral Surgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), have each been honored with the Provost Award for Teaching Excellence in Graduate and Professional Degree Programs.

“These professors have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to teaching and mentoring their students,” Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said. “Their ability to communicate with and inspire their students, their sensitivity to their students’ academic and research needs, and their devotion to teaching has enhanced their students’ experience in immeasurable ways.”

As part of the prize, Craib and Fiani will both receive a $7,000 annual stipend for three years, which may be used for any university-related purpose.

Raymond Craib, the Mary Underhill Noll Professor of American History in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Raymond Craib

A specialist in Latin American history and director of Graduate Studies, Craib has spent his Cornell career supporting graduate students in the Department of History as a “model, mentor, teacher and friend,” one nominator wrote. He has served as a graduate adviser for many students, who have obtained research fellowships, internships and other notable accomplishments and appointments.

Craib frequently updates pedagogy and involves his teaching assistants when experimenting with grading and evaluation models, the committee said.

Many former students commented on his outstanding scholarly attention to research and teaching; several made comments similar to one student who said Craib offered “new perspectives on my field.” Others said his guidance and feedback improved their work, and colleague and student letters of support highlighted his role in building community, the selection committee said.

Nadine Fiani, associate clinical professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Nadine Fiani

An expert in endodontics, Fiani is section chief and medical director for specialties in CVM’s Department of Clinical Sciences. She teaches professional students, interns and residents, and offers continuing education credits for veterinarians. She also researches clinical teaching measures of success and was the primary developer of an online modular skills course for basic veterinary dentistry.

Teaching small, large and online courses, Fiani consistently earns praise from her students, the committee said, and the veterinary residents whom she mentors give her laudatory evaluations. Students describe her as “amazing,” “super awesome” and “absolutely wonderful.” One student noted she makes “learning material fun.”

Student reflections emphasize her classroom engagement and passion for dentistry, as well as her patient, clear and well-organized teaching style. To enhance her students’ academic experience, Fiani secured a grant to allow students to work on animals with good prognoses when owners cannot afford more advanced care.

The award was created in 2021 to recognize excellence in teaching among faculty who teach primarily at the professional school and/or graduate program level, analogous to the Stephen H. Weiss Teaching Awards, which recognize excellence in undergraduate education.

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Rebecca Valli