Nine faculty members were nominated by their colleagues and received these prestigious, annual awards from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Monday, May 15, 2023

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is recognizing nine faculty members for their outstanding contributions in the classroom, community, and beyond during the 2022-2023 academic year with its Collegiate Teaching, International Engagement Teaching, and Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement awards.  

Teaching Engagement Award recipients

The Collegiate Teaching Award  

The Collegiate Teaching Awards are presented each year to faculty who demonstrate outstanding performance in the classroom, laboratory, or studio. 

Fred Boehmke, Political Science 

Fred Boehmke is a professor and Marvin and Rose Lee Pomerantz Chair in the Department of Political Science. He teaches the most challenging courses in political science that cover quantitative, statistical, and data analytics approaches to studying politics. In addition to teaching, Boehmke makes himself available to students—meeting frequently to talk through questions and materials. He also serves as a mentor outside the classroom and regularly serves on dissertation committees. His commitment to quality teaching and mentoring are all happening while 80 percent of his time is reserved for directing the Iowa Social Science Research Center.   

“While this named chair recognizes his outstanding contribution to research, he has provided an equal level of outstanding instruction to undergraduate and graduate students at Iowa. He has done this inside and outside the classroom. I can think of no better person to win this award than Fred,” Political Science DEO Brain Lai wrote in a nomination letter. 

Mariola Espinosa, History 

Mariola Espinosa is an associate professor in the Department of History. She teaches a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses covering the history of medicine and Latin American history. Many of her courses serve students across disciplines, not just those in her home department. Her expertise in the history of medicine and disease was especially timely during the pandemic, giving students a unique opportunity to study the historical perspective of public health crises while one was unfolding in real-time. Espinosa is frequently asked to deliver guest lectures for other areas at the University of Iowa and outside institutions, including the University of Wisconsin and The Ohio State University. She is an encouraging mentor to students of all backgrounds, including many first-generation students. 

“She receives rave reviews from students, many of whom take multiple courses with her or comment in course evaluations that they wish they could. Few students drop or fail her classes, and many continue to earn academic recognition and pursue graduate study. She is a devoted and effective mentor to students of diverse interests and backgrounds,” History professor Landon Storrs wrote in a nomination letter.  

Ray Fagenbaum, Health and Human Physiology 

Ray Fagenbaum is an associate professor of instruction in the Department of Health and Human Physiology. This is the largest department in the college, serving more than 2,200 undergraduate majors and nearly 100 graduate students. Five of the department's six majors require introductory and upper-level lectures and labs in human anatomy and human physiology. Fagenbaum has been pivotal in the development and delivery of those courses. The department has experienced exponential growth over the last decade, and Fagenbaum has kept up with extraordinary demand for courses and developed hybrid and virtual course options, even before the pandemic. In addition to his traditional courses, he has offered an international medicine study abroad course over the winter session in India and the Dominican Republic. He is also a valued mentor of students, meeting regularly with them.  

“Dr. Fagenbaum has been instrumental in the development and delivery of the rigorous human anatomy and human physiology undergraduate curriculum in HHP since the creation/merger of the department in 2010. He has essentially built the human anatomy curriculum,” Health and Human Physiology DEO Gary Pierce wrote in a nomination letter.  

Cynthia Farthing, Math 

Cynthia Farthing is an associate professor of instruction in the Department of Mathematics. Her work to redesign MATH 1005: College Algebra as well as her involvement in other introductory courses has benefited large, intro courses across the college. Her work has reduced anxiety among students by allowing them to retake exams and demonstrate they’ve learned the materials. Her redesign work has also resulted in higher grades and lower drop rates, especially among URM students. Among those who took her course instead of placing directly into downstream courses, those students also had more success, especially those more at risk. In addition to her teaching, she is a dedicated mentor and advisor, supervising about 40 teaching assistants and serving as a faculty supervisor for the Iowa Math Club and UI Chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics.  

“Dr. Farthing has been instrumental in delivering the departmental curriculum overall. She has taught a wide range of courses, and added her own influence on each one, whether that be through the mode of teaching, or the types of assignments given to students. She successfully redesigned, implemented, and assessed the MATH:1005 College Algebra course to cover all the required topics and objectives and provide students with a course that is more applicable to their future studies,” Mathematics DEO Ryan Kinser wrote in a nomination letter.  

Brady G’Sell, Anthropology, and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies  

Brady G’Sell is an assistant professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies. G’Sell teaches a variety of courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels, including a GE requirement for diversity and inclusion, while also directing several honors theses and independent studies, along with serving on doctoral committees. Her courses and mentoring have been crucial in creating learning communities that emphasize justice and the public good with a focus on individuals and groups that have historically been excluded. Her courses provide students with invaluable training that develops their analytical skills, conceptual clarity, and global perspectives. 

“As her teaching evaluations show, her passion for teaching and dedication to students is appreciated. Given the nature of the controversial topics we covered in the course, I marveled at G’Sell’s approach to those topics, which was nuanced, respectful, and well-thought-out,” GWSS and Anthropology DEOs Hyaeweol Choi and Katina Lillios said in a nomination letter.  

Irene Lottini, French and Italian  

Irene Lottini is a lecturer in the Department of French and Italian. During her time at Iowa, she has developed innovative courses that are popular among students learning linguistics and analytical skills. She teaches Italian language, literature in Italian, and general education courses. She recently received a $4,000 grant to redesign the elementary Italian course and has developed new materials that have been incorporated into her instruction. Additionally, she has designed several popular culture courses that teach students to think critically. Her course The Mafia and the Movies: Defying the Myth routinely has a waitlist of more than 100 people.  

“It is extremely rare for a faculty member to regularly teach courses in such a wide variety of areas, and the fact that she has done so is a testament to the breadth of her knowledge and teaching, as well as her remarkable ability to develop exciting new courses that interest students from diverse backgrounds,” French and Italian DEO Roxanna Curto said in a nomination letter. 

International Engagement Teaching Award  

The International Engagement Teaching Award is jointly awarded with UI International Programs and acknowledges those who foster international learning experiences for students. 

Armando Duarte, Dance  

Armando Duarte is a professor and director of dance production in the Department of Dance. His research focuses on Brazilian culture, and he regularly exposes his students to it in the classroom, studio, on stage, and beyond. His Samba course focuses on Brazilian dance and music in addition to the economy, politics, and social issues. Duarte has also taught in the honors program and study abroad curriculum. He has also worked with several students in the Iowa Center for Undergraduate Research to assist him with his research on Brazilian culture. Three of his students have been awarded a Fulbright to study and work in Brazil.  

“It would be difficult to overstate Professor Duarte’s commitment to international learning and his role on campus as an ambassador for Brazil and Brazilian culture, including dance and social practices around samba and carnival, his areas of specialization. I give him my highest recommendation for this recognition of his role on campus in fostering international engagement through his teaching and creative research,” Dance DEO Rebekah Kowal wrote in a nomination letter. 

Debra Trusty, Classics 

Debra Trusty is a lecturer in the Department of Classics. Trusty developed the first-ever honors study abroad course at Iowa in 2019, which included a one-credit hour course that prepared students to study abroad in Greece. This became a model that Trusty continued to develop and offer. She requires her study abroad students to first take a class that immerses them in the setting they will be visiting. In this course, she familiarizes them with the art and archeology they will visit while abroad. Additionally, through her courses, students also have an opportunity to team-build and get to know each other before traveling together. The extra courses enrich their international experience. She encourages students to integrate study abroad or international internships into their education and has completed substantial service in supporting and developing internationally focused learning experiences.  

“Students have ended up talking to strangers in Greece in modern Greek and having personally enriching experiences since Greeks never expect tourists to learn their language. Such experiences give students confidence in engaging internationally,” Director Emeritus of the UI Honors Program Art Spisak said in a nomination letter.  

Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement Award 

The Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement Award honors a faculty member who has brought the UI to broader communities in significant and sustained ways. 

Philip Combiths, Communication Sciences and Disorders 

Philip Combiths is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. His work and research focus on using language diversity to better understand developmental speech and language impairments and provide better clinical services to all individuals with communication disorders. Public engagement is embedded in his teaching and outreach activities, including building a community-engaged research project through Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, a non-profit community organization that supports predominantly low-income immigrant families. Combiths and his students are helping children with language development in the center’s preschool programs.  

“Philip is using thoughtful effort to improve our understanding of supportive practices for bilingual language development in low-income immigrant communities, create a reciprocal relationship between university faculty and students, and the surrounding community, and provide our students with experiential learning opportunities that support local children's language and literacy development,” Communication Sciences and Disorders DEO Anu Subramanian wrote in a nomination letter.  

To view more achievements by CLAS faculty, be sure to visit