Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

The 15th annual Crystal Apple Awards recognized eight Emory professors for excellence in teaching Monday night.

This year, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) received a record-breaking 400 nominations, according to RHA Vice President of Programming Elliyah Dossantos.

This year’s eight Crystal Apple recipients included Director of the Spanish Language Program Robyn Clarke; Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology Sonal Nalkur; Associate Professor in the Practice of Information Systems & Operations Management Steve Walton; Associate Professor Clinical in the Woodruff School of Nursing Joyce King; Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology Kristin Phillips; Assistant Professor of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health Dabney Evans; Assistant Professor in the Department of English Jericho Brown and Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine Kathy Lee Bishop.

The Awards, which the Student Government Association (SGA) initiated 15 years ago and RHA later adopted, accepts student nominations for teachers who have made a strong impact on their education at Emory.

The RHA executive committee, which reviews the nominations and selects the winners, is composed of students on RHA elected positions, students on appointed positions and the presidents of different halls across campus. This allows for greater student representation in the decision process, Dossantos said.

More than 50 people attended the awards ceremony at the Miller-Ward Alumni House, where Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair opened the ceremony by congratulating the award winners.

Nominating students presented the professors they nominated with an award in an individual category, such as Excellence in Undergraduate Large Class Education and Excellence in Graduate School Education.

Clarke, who was nominated for Excellence in Undergraduate Seminar Education, said she was shocked when she received the news that she was going to be awarded a Crystal Apple.

“I thought it was a joke, and then I thought, [the email] looks official, surely it can’t be a joke,” Clarke said. “There’s no way my friends are that cruel.”

Clarke said she checked online the next day to make sure the award was real, then excitedly forwarded the email to both her mother and her department chair.

“I was incredulous at first, then stunned, and then moved to tears, and then I immediately thought about what students could have done this,” Clarke said.

College senior Katy Heath, who nominated Clarke, attended the award ceremony.

“Robyn was one of the best professors I’ve ever had at Emory, probably the best,” Heath said. “She knows how to engage her classroom not only as a professor but also as a mentor.”

Heath said that throughout her time at Emory, Clarke had become not only a great professor but also a great mentor.

“She was the obvious choice if I needed to nominate someone,” Heath said.

Evans, who received the award for Excellence in Professional School Education, said she was honored and appreciative of the students who nominated her.

“Teaching is something that is really important,” Evans said. “We’re at an academic institution and teaching should really be our first priority, so winning a teaching award is to me one of the highest accolades you can receive.”

Evans brought her mom as her guest to the event as a way to honor her own first teacher.

“I’m just very excited and honored to be here,” Evans said.

Clarke received the award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, Nalkur received the award for Excellence in Undergraduate Large Class Education, Walton received the award for Excellence in Undergraduate Business Education, King received the award for Excellence in Undergraduate Nursing Education, Phillips received the award for Excellence in Graduate School Education, Evans received the award for for Excellence in Professional School Education, Brown received the William H. Fox Award for Emerging Excellence and Bishop received the Laura Jones Hardman Award for Excellence in Service to the Emory Community.