Michelle Bezanson Wins Logothetti Teaching Award
Anthropology Professor “Both Proud and Humbled”
By Jenny Walsh ‘20
At its annual convocation to launch the 2018-19 academic year, the College of Arts and Sciences named Michelle Bezanson (Anthropology) the 2018 recipient of the Dr. David E. Logothetti Teaching Award. The highest honor associated with teaching in the College, the award recognizes a professor for excellence in the classroom.
“I feel both proud and humbled,” Bezanson said of receiving the award. “It is an extreme honor to be recognized in this way by my colleagues and students.”
To completely understand Bezanson’s “classroom,” however, picture this: You’re walking through the tall, green trees of the Costa Rican jungle. The air is heavy and moist, and the sounds of birds chirping and animals crunching through the leaves fill your ears. Then, somewhere far off you hear another sound, sharper and much higher pitched than the rest. It is the white-faced Capuchin monkey you’ve been sent here to study.
Every year, Bezanson leads the SCU Gone Wild experience with students in Costa Rica. The students work closely with Bezanson, recording species lists, taking field notes, and conducting independent research projects. Much of the data gathered contributes to the biological anthropologist’s research, which focuses on evolutionary development and sustainability, with a current interest in how white-faced capuchins interact with and affect their environment.
Students certainly appreciate the opportunity to extend their learning to field research. “I think what makes [Bezanson] a great teacher is that while she pushes you hard, she does it with genuine care and meaningful support,” says student Bella Norelius ‘19 (Biology and Anthropology), who has taken several classes with Bezanson and participated in the SCU Gone Wild trip in Costa Rica. “Being her student, talking with her in and outside of the class, has meant the world to me, and I really wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
Dean Debbie Tahmassebi presented the award to Bezanson at the College’s annual convocation event, praising Benzanson’s efforts to engage students in ethical and sustainability issues associated with fieldwork. Tahmassebi also lauded Bezanson for her mentorship of her students and her willingness to extend her teaching into Santa Clara University’s Residential Learning Communities.
About the Dr. David E. Logotheti Teaching Award:
The Dr. David E. Logothetti Teaching Award is awarded to a faculty member in recognition for having established among colleagues and students a well-deserved reputation for an energetic, engaging, and effective teaching style, and having demonstrated the ability to motivate other teachers and learners.