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March 1, 2006

Teaching Award Honors Smith College Faculty Members

Editor’s note: High-res images of the Sherrerd Award winners are available by contacting Marti Hobbes at

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College President Carol T. Christ recently announced the four faculty recipients of the Kathleen Compton Sherrerd ’54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prizes for Distinguished Teaching in recognition of their outstanding teaching records and demonstrated enthusiasm and excellence in the classroom.

The winners of the 2006 Sherrerd Teaching Awards are Giovanna Bellesia, professor of Italian language and literature; H. Robert Burger, Achilles Professor of Geology; Glenn Ellis, associate professor of engineering; and Marguerite Harrison, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese.

They will be honored at a presentation at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall. The awards ceremony is free and open to the public.

The Sherrerd Teaching Award recipients, made possible by a grant to the college from the late Kathleen Compton Sherrerd, Smith Class of 1954, and her husband John J. F. Sherrerd:

Giovanna Bellesia
Bellesia has taught Italian language and literature at Smith since 1984. Originally from Milan, Italy, Bellesia moved to the United States in 1980 and completed her doctoral studies in romance languages at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on modern Italian women writers, and she has translated numerous texts from Italian to English. At Smith, Bellesia teaches “Women in Italian Society Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” as well as a survey of Italian literature and elementary Italian.

H. Robert Burger
Burger, one of the longest-serving members of the Smith faculty, began teaching at the college in 1966 after completing his masters and doctoral studies at Indiana University following receipt of a bachelor’s degree at Yale. Burger has researched and written extensively on topics in geology, including volcanic structure, oil excavation and the science of natural disasters. At Smith, he teaches a popular course, “Natural Disasters,” as well as “Environmental Geophysics” and “Structural Geology.”

Glenn Ellis
Ellis, a national leader in engineering education, came to Smith five years ago to join the faculty of the first engineering program at a women’s college. Following masters and doctoral degrees at Princeton University, Ellis held teaching positions at Stevens Institute of Technology, Clarkson University, the United States Air Force Academy and taught high school physics in St. Paul, Minn., and Greenwich, Conn., winning several teaching awards along the way. His research focuses on engineering education and related gender issues.

Marguerite Harrison
Harrison completed her doctorate in Portuguese and Brazilian studies at Brown University after growing up in a Brazilian-American household in the United States and Brazil. She joined the Smith faculty in 2000 after teaching at Harvard and Brown. Harrison specializes in interactive language courses in Brazilian Portuguese as well as interdisciplinary courses in Portuguese and Brazilian studies. Harrison’s writings include numerous translations of prose works by Brazilian authors. At Smith, she teaches “The Brazilian Body: Representing Women in Brazil’s Literature and Culture,” “Brazilian Poetry and Performance Art” and other courses.

Smith has always considered excellent teaching among its top priorities and presents the Sherrerd Teaching Award as a symbol of its commitment and dedication to superior pedagogy, said President Christ.

“Smith has traditionally emphasized the importance of dynamic, diverse and interactive teaching in imparting the principles of the sciences and liberal arts to its high-achieving students,” said President Christ, who served on the English faculty at the University of California at Berkeley before coming to Smith. “The college considers the teaching of its students to be among its most essential objectives as a leading institution of women’s education.”

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
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