Harvard’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) has announced the three faculty members who will receive this year’s PBK Teaching Prize. The prize, now in its 20th year, will be presented at the annual literary exercises on June 5.
The winners are Mary Gaylord, professor of Romance languages and literatures, Peter J. Gomes, professor of religion, and Nancy Mitchnick, Rudolph Arnheim Lecturer on Studio Arts.
Gaylord highlights the beauty of poetry from Petrarch to Neruda, while simultaneously teaching analytic skills and literary theory. Personally engaging each student, in class and in long office hours, she also teaches writing with attention to every level of language, content, and structure. Gaylord’s course “Love Lyrics in the Hispanic Tradition” unites the personal, the developmental, the esthetic, the critical, and the social in an exemplary humanistic spirit.
Gomes, who is also the senior minister of Memorial Church, is praised as a section leader for striking “a perfect balance between fostering student conversation and interjecting his own insights.” His PBK nominator noted Gomes for teaching one of the sections of his lecture course Religion 42, “The Christian Bible and Its Interpretations,” as a caring mentor who made it a point to learn his students’ ambitions, interests, and intellectual proclivities. Gomes is now retiring this course, which he has taught for seven years.
Mitchnick, the Rudolph Arnheim Lecturer, is also the head tutor of visual and environmental studies. In her introductory oil-painting classes, Mitchnick, according to her PBK nominator, “uses a variety of creative assignments to make painters out of all her students.” Among the skills that she develops in her students through her once a week, six-hour classes, are concentration and risk-taking. Many people who take Mitchnick’s “Painting with Attitude” course, nearly all of them nonvisual and environmental studies concentrators, say that “Nancy” was their favorite Harvard professor.