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How to Do the Twist
The Landscape of Destiny
Pillars of the Community
Story Time

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Winter 1997
Pillars of the Community

Professors of excellence – Arnold Scheibel, Susan McClary, Ivan Szelenyi, Kris Gutierrez and Utpal Banerjee – stand and deliver daily for the benefit of their UCLA students.

By David Greenwald

"A teacher," wrote historian and philosopher Henry Brooks Adams, "affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops."

By any measure, the five UCLA faculty who have been chosen to receive the 1997 Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award manifest Adams' noble vision. Nominated by their academic departments on the recommendation of colleagues and students and selected by the UCLA Academic Senate's Committee on Teaching, these maestros of the classroom -- Arnold Scheibel, professor of neurobiology; Utpal Banerjee, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology; Kris Gutierrez, associate professor of education; Ivan Szelenyi, professor of sociology; and Susan McClary, professor of musicology -- are the very best that UCLA has to offer.

What makes a teacher great? There is more to it than the ability to share knowledge, a formidable gift in its own right. The selection committee's comments on this year's Luckman awardees hint at some of the special qualities possessed by professors of excellence. On Scheibel: "Sets the standard against which his colleagues compare themselves and against which students compare the rest of the faculty." On Banerjee: "An innovative and creative force." On Gutierrez: "A gifted mentor with the intuitive gift for making each student feel his or her ideas are intelligent, valid and beneficial to the learning community." On Szelenyi: "Able to explain the most complex subjects with ease and with immeasurable compassion and understanding for his students and the human condition." On McClary: "Approaches teaching and critical thought in general with an air of such humor, energy and courage that it opens up to others the desire for intellectual life and the possibilities of cultural participation and production."

The hallmark of the gift, as Adams observed, is the capacity to influence. To leave a lasting impression. To change lives. That's all we ask of our top teachers; that's what the 1997 Luckman Award winners reliably stand and deliver.

2005 The Regents of the University of California