Mellon College of Science Julius Ashkin Teaching Award

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The Julius Ashkin Teaching Award

Adopted by College Council 22 August 1988
Amended 24 February 1989, 25 September 1990 and 2013


The purpose of the Julius Ashkin Teaching Award is to encourage and recognize unusual devotion and effectiveness in teaching* undergraduate students in the Mellon College of Science. The award is in the form of a certificate and an honorarium. One award is to be made every year.


All tenure track, teaching track, and special faculty members of the Mellon College of Science are eligible for nomination. Nominees should show substantial and regular dedication to the instruction of undergraduate students. Past winners of the Ashkin Award are not eligible.


The Dean of MCS will designate an Associate Dean of MCS to be responsible for the administration of the nomination and selection process, including the calling for proposals and the convening of the Selection Committee.


A proposal for nomination to the Ashkin Award may be made by any group of at least three persons, each of whom is either a current or retired regular or special faculty member or a current or former full-time undergraduate or graduate student in Carnegie Mellon University. Each such proposal is to be made by letter addressed to the Selection Committee, and is not to exceed two single-spaced pages in length. Proposals must be received by the Selection Committee on or before November 1 to be considered in that academic year.

The Selection Committee receives the proposals and selects from them at least two persons each year to be nominated for the Ashkin Award. The proposers of each person so selected are responsible, together with the relevant department head or his or her designee, for preparing the full case for that nomination, following the attached Guidelines for Nomination. In addition, each department head and/or the dean of MCS may submit one fully documented nomination to the Selection Committee. All fully documented nominations must be submitted to the Selection Committee on or before February 8. The Selection Committee may decide to include some or all of the preceding year’s unsuccessful nominees in the current set of nominations.

Selection Committee

The Selection Committee for the Ashkin Award consists of the three most recent among the available recipients of the Ashkin Award, three regular or special faculty members appointed by the MCS College Council for that academic year and one or two undergraduate students selected also by the MCS College Council. The chairman, and a non-voting member, of the Committee is an Associate Dean of MCS, ex-officio.

The Selection Committee adopts its own rules of procedure.


The Selection Committee chooses, from the nominations submitted to it or added by it according to the preceding provision, one person to be recommended to the Dean of MCS to be the recipient of that year's Ashkin Award. The Selection Committee’s recommendation to the Dean and the Dean’s approval of the award are made in time for the Ashkin Award to be presented to the recipient at the annual meeting of the college at the end of the spring semester.

Presentation of Ashkin Award

Presentation of the Julius Ashkin Teaching Award will take place at the annual meeting of the college at the end of the spring semester. The Ashkin Award should also be cited in April at the University-wide public ceremony at which time the Robert Doherty Prize and the William H. and Frances S. Ryan Award for the Recognition of Meritorious Teaching will be awarded. At the discretion of the Dean of MCS, this award may not be presented every year.

Guidelines for Nomination

As the title of the Ashkin Award implies, the criteria for selection involve a number of dimensions of undergraduate education. Nominations should, therefore, address the following items where relevant.

Student Evaluation

Letters should be solicited from a sizable sample of students who have taken courses taught by the nominee in at least, the preceding five years. A typical packet should contain ten to fifteen student letters. Students should be asked to comment, among other things, on the following questions:

Faculty Evaluation

If possible, colleagues who are familiar with the candidates contributions to undergraduate education should be asked to provide letters of support for the nomination. Two to four letters should be submitted.

Information should be supplied from any people who co-taught with the nominee or observed his or her teaching in person or on videotape regarding the quality of the nominee’s instruction.

Faculty Course Evaluations / University Course Assessments

The nominee’s Faculty Course Evaluation scores on all questions for all courses in at least the preceding five years (or all years at Carnegie Mellon, if fewer than five) should be supplied. They should be supplemented with information on the number of students enrolled in each course, whether the students were majors or non-majors, and whether the course employed teaching assistants.

Course Materials

If appropriate, syllabuses, examples of tests, paper and project assignments, problem sets, etc., from the nominee’s courses should be provided, as well as a brief synthesis of the nominee’s contributions to undergraduate education as documented in these materials.

Contributions to Curriculum or Materials Development

Contributions in this area should be documented by materials prepared for courses and by letters from faculty or students about the nominee’s initiatives in course and program development at the departmental or college level.

Contributions to the Development of Instructors

Teaching assistants and former teaching assistants may assess by letters the ways in which the nominee contributed to their development as teachers: by regular meetings with teaching assistants, supervision in person or through videotape, and by supporting teaching assistants through individual consultation, for example.

Colleagues who have co-taught or interacted with the nominee in the teaching area may assess by letters how this

About Julius Ashkin

* Indicates UP and MCS Criteria, pages 6 and 7.