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James Fitzsimmons Wins Gladstone Award for Teaching Excellence

June 9, 2016

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Associate Professor of Anthropology James Fitzsimmons spoke about his new book, Living with the Dead: Mortuary Ritual in the Andes, co-edited with Izumi Shimada, at a gathering of faculty authors earlier this year.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- James Fitzsimmons, associate professor of anthropology, has received the 2016 Gladstone Award Honoring Excellence in Teaching. The Gladstone Award, established in 2012 by Christopher D. Gladstone P’13 and Elise J. Rabekoff P’13, recognizes faculty who have exhibited exceptional teaching and mentoring within and beyond the classroom. The award provides support for faculty to undertake a project that enhances their teaching within the classroom or supports collaborative student/faculty work outside the classroom.

Fitzsimmons’s Gladstone project, titled “Teaching the Practice of Archaeology at the Maya Site of Cuello, Belize,” will bring first-year or sophomore archaeology students to Belize to assist with the first archaeological excavations at Cuello, a Mayan site dating to the Classic Period that is remarkably well-preserved and has yet to be excavated.

"I'm honored to have received the award, and am excited to be able to share, first-hand, the experience of doing archaeology with my students," said Fitzsimmons, who will take first-year and sophomore students to the location in January, 2017.

"The immediate result will be that the students will learn about the practice of archaeology as well as its personal and professional appeal," said Fitzsimmons. "But long-term, these funds will not only enable the first excavation season to take place but also impact student research, publications, and future grants: with the research in hand from this crucial excavation season, I will be able to apply for larger outside sources of funding in the future. From a teaching standpoint, it will be an invaluable experience for students just beginning to learn what archaeology is. From an academic standpoint, this project will begin the process of turning what we think we know about Cuello into what we actually know."

Fitzsimmons joined the Middlebury College faculty in 2005, and has built a reputation since that time as a gifted teacher of both large introductory and smaller upper-level courses. He has been deeply committed to involving students in his research, which explores mortuary rituals in ancient Mesoamerican cultures, and will use the Gladstone Award to create further opportunities for Middlebury students to participate directly in archeological fieldwork.  

According to Vice President for Academic Affairs Andi Lloyd, the Gladstone selection committee, consisting of faculty and administrators, reviewed several strong proposals. She said that Fitzsimmons's record and proposal best exemplified the qualities the award is meant to recognize.

2 Comments

Congratulations to Prof. Fitzsimmons. I have audited two of his classes and heartily agree. He is an excellent teacher. I just read about his award as I searched for Latin American courses to audit in his absence on sabbatical. I eagerly await his return to learn more about the Maya.

by Jean Seeler Gif... (not verified)

Professor Fitzsimmons is one of the most valuable Middlebury faculty. His passion and enthusiasm about his research and course material never fail to amaze me. I have the utmost respect for Professor Fitzsimmons, as he also reciprocates this respect with his students.I could not imagine a more deserving professor for this award!

by Natalie Figueroa (not verified)

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