Religious Studies

in the Department of Philosophy and Religion

Recognized for Teaching Excellence, Concern for Students

Glenn Hopkins (right), dean of the University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts, congratulates (from left) Sarah Moses, Felice Coles and Michael Raines on their teaching awards. Moses won the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen, Coles was named the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher and Raines was named the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Instructor. UM photo by Robert Jordan.

Glenn Hopkins (right), dean of the University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts, congratulates (from left) Sarah Moses, Felice Coles and Michael Raines on their teaching awards. Photo by Robert Jordan/Communications.

Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion, received the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen from the University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts.

One of only three faculty members in 2012-13 honored by the College. Moses was recognized Saturday, May 11 2013  at the College commencement ceremony in Tad Smith Coliseum.

The selection process involved nominations from students and fellow faculty, which were considered by a committee of former recipients based on criteria that includes excellence in class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare.

The nomination letters followed a theme of selflessness, professional passion and individual attention to students.

Of Moses, one colleague referred to how her students regularly give her high marks in teaching evaluations and wrote the following:

“Dr. Moses is more than an excellent teacher; she is also a caring mentor. Teaching religion has some unique challenges, compared to teaching chemistry, for example. The teacher is exposing students to belief systems that are quite different than their own deeply held beliefs. … It takes great skill to negotiate such controversial terrain. One has to earn the respect of the students to take them on this journey.”

Moses received validation of her worthiness for the award from Steven C. Skultety, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. He lauded the honored faculty member.

“Like other well-respected teachers, Dr. Moses brings an incredible amount of enthusiasm to her teaching, and she thinks very carefully about which material will interest and challenge our students. What sets her apart, however, is her uncanny ability to exert authority and make students feel like sharing and participating at one and the same time. Students in her classes never feel they are receiving a pre-packaged lecture, but believe they are entering a conversation led by a sympathetic expert.”

The honored faculty member expressed surprise and appreciation for having been chosen.

“Teaching is my favorite part of being an academic,” Moses said. “When I think of freshmen who are just setting out on the intellectual, social and personal journey of college, I consider it a great privilege to help them to deepen their understanding of the world in which they live, particularly about religious studies. And so it is very gratifying to me to know that some of my students have had a positive learning experience in my classes and honored me by nominating me for this award.”

Moses joined the university in 2008. She specializes in religious and medical ethics and contemporary religious thought. Each semester, she teaches several sections of REL 101: Introduction to Religion. She holds a master’s from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate in theological ethics from Boston College.

BY ELAINE PUGH
MAY 11, 2013

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