Batten's Gabrielle Adams and Lucy Bassett Receive UVA's Prestigious All-University Faculty Teaching Award

This past year, teaching professors “kicked it up a notch” in expressing compassion and positivity, not only to keep students engaged, but also to build trust and be there as everyone struggled with the difficult times.
This past year, teaching professors “kicked it up a notch” in expressing compassion and positivity, not only to keep students engaged, but also to build trust and be there as everyone struggled with the difficult times.

Batten's Gabrielle Adams and Lucy Bassett were two of only nine UVA faculty to receive the prestigious All-University Faculty Teaching Award this year. Despite many challenges posed by the pandemic, Adams and Bassett demonstrated outstanding skill, compassion and creativity in keeping students engaged in virtual classes and relating their subject material to daily life.

“This year’s teaching award winners reflect the hard work, creativity and dynamism we see from all of our faculty, every day,” Liz Magill, executive vice president and provost, said. “Especially this year, our awardees have created learning environments to engage students and support their best learning in an unusual and challenging environment. They have fostered intellectual excitement and resiliency at a time when our students needed both more than ever.”

Here are some of the practices that make these professors stand out and garner their students’ insistence that these award-winning teachers are the best professors they have had at the University of Virginia.

All-University Faculty Teaching Awards

Gabrielle Adams
Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Psychology, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Gabrielle Adams’ students said they were amazed at how she made 2½ hours on Zoom go by so quickly. She teaches courses such as “Foundations of Behavioral Science,” which prompted one student to write:

“It’s a rare and powerful experience when one professor can make you rethink how you interact with the world. Professor Adams was so influential because her teachings made me analyze and change my own behavior, and they formed the bedrock of my academic learning at UVA. Her emphases on heuristics [ways of making decisions more quickly using mental shortcuts; these shortcuts can take the form of stereotypes and biases or introduce other errors] and situationism led me to understand that we’re much less in control of our behavior than we’d like to think, especially when we’re unaware of the social forces which shape our perspectives. Her excellent teaching abilities have impacted my perspective in my other classes, for I understand political, sociological and historical systems as influencing our actions, but which also form what we consider actionable.”

Lucy Bassett
Associate Professor of Practice and Public Policy, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Three years ago, Bassett made “a life-changing career shift from policy professional to professor,” she wrote in her reflective teaching statement.

She isn’t afraid to teach difficult courses, according to Batten Dean Ian Solomon, who nominated her for this award. She taught an online course this spring, an undergraduate capstone course about the crisis on the U.S./Mexico border.

“Students in that class told me that it was a life-changing course,” Solomon wrote, “not only because of the timeliness of the topic, but also because of the passion and perspective she brought to it. It was a difficult class to teach because the situation was evolving in real time, but Lucy was not deterred from the challenge because she knew it would be an invaluable experience for her students.”

One of the students who took “Children in Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” wrote, “I skimmed the description to learn more about the short course. Having spent months living and volunteering along the U.S./Mexico border before and during my time at UVA, I wondered how a university course could begin to convey the mosaic of human suffering, emotional distress, humanitarian need and militarization that is the Southern border. Swallowing these initial hesitations, I arrived to Professor Bassett’s course curious about how we could unpack such gravity in a Monroe Hall classroom.

“Exceptionally balancing the aim to inform with instruction that sparked exploration and deep engagement with course themes, Professor Bassett facilitated a course that did incredible justice to the harsh realities of our subject matter. … Refusing to allow students to become overwhelmed by the complexity and sheer frustration that can stem from conversations around humane migration, a central question that always emerged after we grappled with policy consequences was, Where do we go from here?

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