Edgard Ore-Giron, an instructor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, won the prestigious 2018 Margaret M. Briehl and Dennis T. Ray Five Star Faculty Award.
Ore-Giron is the third consecutive College of Humanities faculty member to win the university-wide award, which was first given in 1983 and remains the only award for University of Arizona faculty that is nominated and selected exclusively by undergraduate students. He follows 2017 winner Annette Joseph-Gabriel of the Department of French and Italian and 2016 winner Anders Peterson, also of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Ore-Giron said he is both shocked and humbled to receive the award.
“I never thought that I would be selected. It’s an honor that my students would take the time to nominate me. That flatters me,” he says. “My entire objective with them is at the end of the semester, I want them to be better human beings than the day they walked into my class.”
Ore-Giron has 10 years of experience teaching a variety of Spanish courses, from foundation language courses to upper-division literature and arts courses, but he often teaches general education courses, which he enjoys for the opportunity to connect with students who don’t know Spanish.
“I get to introduce a lot of new students to the Hispanic culture, especially students who come from the East Coast who may have never taken Spanish. I find it’s a huge responsibility,” he says. “A good number of my students choose Spanish as a major or minor. I’ve been put in such a privileged position to welcome them.”
In announcing the award, the Honors College said that “Ore-Giron is well-regarded by students for his passion, care and respect for all people he encounters. He encourages students not to fear failure but to embrace challenges as critical steps toward growth, both in classes and in life.”
Currently teaching Spanish 160C, Arts and Politics of Latin America, Ore-Giron has a strong interest in Comparative Andean and Mexican Literature. His passion for the languages and cultural experiences of people around the world, particularly in Latin America, shows up in his teaching.
One student nominator said, “On the first essay we wrote, I felt very nervous about turning it in and I spoke with him about it. I explained that in high school I had a pattern of getting writing teachers who constantly undermined the abilities of students (me). He talked me through this fear and lack of confidence throughout the entire semester. I felt I had a personal connection with him. This boosted my confidence in the other classes I took this semester.”
Members of the Five Star Faculty Selection Committee said the award recognizes Ore-Giron’s ability to connect with students and encourage growth, as well as his passion for teaching.
One member said, “His teaching statement really stood out to me. I like how he always gives students opportunities to fix their mistakes and believes that mistakes should not be punished, but instead should be embraced as failure that is needed for a student to grow.” Another wrote that what stood out was “His willingness to help a student no matter the obstacle or hardship. He truly believes everyone has the ability to be successful in their own unique way.”
A third said that “His kindness and his intrigue and motivation to teach his classes" highlight his excellence as a teacher who connects with his students.
College of Humanities Dean Alain-Philippe Durand said having multiple Five Star Faculty Award recipients attests to the high priority the College places on excellence in teaching.
“I am very happy and congratulate our colleague Edgard Ore-Giron for being awarded the Five Star Faculty Award. Our world-class faculty have the highest respect and interest in their students and their progress,” says Durand, a prior Five Star Faculty winner himself. “The College of Humanities faculty are dedicated to their students from day one until the day they graduate and beyond. We believe that high expectations of students are strongly linked to their persistence and graduation, and to learning itself.”
Prior College of Humanities winners of the Five Star Faculty Award include:
2017: Annette Joseph-Gabriel, French and Italian
2016: Anders Peterson, Spanish and Portuguese
2013: Alain-Philippe Durand, French and Italian
2009: Albrecht Classen, German Studies
2008: Melissa Fitch, Spanish and Portuguese
2004: David Soren, Classics
2000: Jon Solomon, Classics
1997: Ana Perches, Spanish and Portuguese
1996: Elizabeth Harrison, East Asian Studies
1995: Kamakshi Murti, German Studies
1987: Robert A. Burns, Religious Studies
1985: Donna Swaim, Humanities
1984: Vicky Hamblin, French