October 7, 2002
New award honors three generations of scholarship
By Ann M. Gibb
An innovative award, linking three generations of academic excellence at UCSC, will be presented for the first time during Stevenson College Night on October 8.
|Bruce Thompson, left, received
the first John Dizikes Award, which enabled him to select student
Shelby Polakoff to receive a scholarship. John Dizikes is at right.
Photo: Ann M. Gibb
History lecturer Bruce Thompson is the recipient of the first John
Dizikes Award, established this year by the Humanities Division to honor
outstanding teaching by humanities faculty, and named in honor of one
of UCSC's founding faculty members.
In addition to his $3,000 award, the recognition enables Thompson to
select an undergraduate to receive a $3,000 scholarship. Thompson has
chosen Shelby Polakoff, a literature major, as the scholarship recipient.
"I remember seeing a flyer announcing the establishment of the
John Dizikes Award," said Thompson, "and I thought it was
a wonderful idea. I think John's one of the most extraordinary teachers
I've ever met. It never occurred to me that I'd be the first recipient
of an award named for him."
Dizikes, a professor emeritus of American studies, came to UCSC in
1965. A winner of the UCSC Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching
Award, Dizikes has published numerous books and articles, served as
Cowell College provost, and mentored thousands of students during his
career at UCSC. He continues to be an active member of the campus community.
In announcing Thompson as the Dizikes award winner, dean of humanities
Wlad Godzich cited Thompson's intellectual influence on undergraduates
and graduates, his support and advising to large numbers of students,
and his ability to teach many different topics in history. Thompson
has taught at UCSC for 10 years, offering a variety of courses including
surveys of modern European history, cinema history, Jewish American
fiction, and seminars on the history of Paris and London, among others.
When it came to choosing the scholarship recipient, Thompson found
it a hard choice because he has worked with many excellent students.
He chose Polakoff for her strong writing skills, active participation
in class and discussion sections, and ability to maintain a high quality
of scholarship while balancing her studies with other campus activities,
such as editing the student newspaper City on a Hill.
"She had a wonderful eye for a good feature story," said
Thompson. "And Shelby is one of those students who has a genuine
love and excitement about learning. You know it from the first moment
you encounter her in the classroom."
Polakoff, who is from San Diego, was completing a journalism internship
in Washington, D.C., when she got an e-mail from Thompson about the
scholarship. "I was ecstatic when I found out," said Polakoff.
"What made this award truly special was that it was given to me
by a teacher I respect and admire." Polakoff has taken history
and literature classes with Thompson each year since she entered UCSC.
"Bruce is so motivated in his teaching, he makes the students motivated,
too," said Polakoff.
"The opportunity to share an award with a student is just great,"
said Thompson. "And I get to introduce one of my favorite teachers
to one of my favorite students."
Stevenson College Night, held twice each quarter, is open to students,
faculty, and staff of Stevenson.
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