On April 24, Dr. Charise Cheney was awarded the 2018 Tykeson Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, on behalf of the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Cheney has been a faculty member since 2009, having served as an academic advisor as well as teaching numerous courses within the Ethnic Studies Department. The department has nine core faculty members.
On Tuesday afternoon, Phil Scher, Divisional Dean for Social Sciences, surprised Cheney during her Intro to African American Studies class.
“Ethnic Studies 101 is a crucial class at the University of Oregon. This award is for all of your teaching, but this year was specially focused on teachers who display excellence in large classes,” Scher said.
Dr. Cheney began teaching Ethnic Studies 101 in 2009, and has now taught it 15 times, including summer sessions.
Laura Pulido, head of the Ethnic Studies Department, nominated Dr. Cheney due to the strength of her teaching, as well as her ability to bring new students into Ethnic Studies.
“I meet with all new majors or minors and approximately 80 percent of them were drawn to Ethnic Studies because of Dr. Cheney,” Pulido said. “Students simply love her.”
The Tykeson Teaching Award includes a certificate and a $2,500 cash prize. The first Tykeson Award was given out in 2015. Every year, one faculty member in each CAS division receives the award for excellence in teaching. Past recipients include Professor Mark Lonergan in 2016, and professor Kelley Leon-Howarth in 2017, among others.
Dr. Cheney is a published author whose past work includes the 2005 New York University published book “Brothers Gonna Work It Out: Sexual Politics In The Golden Age of Rap Nationalism.” She’s currently working on a book concerning Brown v. Board, a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case that ended segregation in public schools.
Amy Thomas, assistant in the Ethnic Studies Department, and Ethnic Studies alum, has gotten to know Dr. Cheney the past few years through her work within the department.
“She’s a very powerful person. I’m continually inspired by her,” Thomas said.
Miakah Nix is a Ethnic Studies alum who took Dr. Cheney’s ES 101 before she graduated in 2017. She credits the class as having introduced him to the writings of indigenous people.
“It just blew my mind because I had always felt like I had been myth-busting all these negative stereotypes about indigenous people, and trying to find ways to work with them and against them,” Nix said. “In Ethnic Studies 101, I learned I don’t have to separate my identity from my successes.”
Dr. Cheney’s award will be further celebrated later this year at an annual reception hosted by the CAS dean.