We are delighted to announce that Eric Wright is recipient of the 2020 Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award. This annual award is presented to outstanding graduate student instructors at Indiana University.
Since joining our graduate program, Eric has prepared and taught 4 different courses: Introduction to Sociology (S100); Sociology of Sport (S101); Religion and Society (S313); and Mental Illness (S324) with class sizes ranging from 6 to 77. Regardless of the topic, format, or class size, Eric excels in the classroom, earning consistently high student evaluations.
Students view Eric to be knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate, able to help them find personal relevance in the material, and flexible in addressing student needs. For example, one student in Eric's Religion and Society class wrote, "Professor Wright was engaging and conversational without sacrificing professionalism or expertise. He was willing to follow discussions and questions… and was almost always able to bring it back full circle, offering an even greater sense of understanding." Similarly, a student in Eric's Sociology of Sport class commented, "The course was one of the most interesting I have ever taken over my four years at the university. Eric is the best instructor I have had as he not only cares about each student's success, but he creates a very open classroom environment where most feel comfortable to talk, which is quite an accomplishment with such a large class."
Beyond his outstanding classroom performance, Eric has assumed a position of pedagogical leadership in our department and on campus. He was selected to serve as the Preparing Future Faculty fellow in 2017-18, in which capacity he co-taught our graduate course in The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology (S506) and organized the Preparing Future Faculty conference. Students in his section of S506 uniformly praised his mentoring and advising, calling him "an unwavering peer mentor" who was "thoroughly invested in my success as an instructor."
Eric also organized the Preparing Future Faculty conference in spring 2018, a major day-long event involving faculty from IU and beyond who present panels and roundtables on professionalization topics for graduate students. In a typical year, roughly 200 students participate. The 2018 conference featured discussion of student mental health and diversity and inclusion, thereby engaging graduate student participants in some of the most timely and challenging issues facing institutions of higher education today. Through thoughtful and competent leadership, Eric extended his influence on the quality of graduate student instruction at IU beyond the department to the campus at large.
The department is proud of Eric's many accomplishments and congratulates him on this well-deserved honor!