Valentina Popescu, Continuing Lecturer in Classics, and Rex Stem, Associate Professor of Classics, have each received major UC Davis teaching prizes. Professor Popescu won the Academic Federation Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Professor Stem won the College of Letters and Science Teaching Award in Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies.
Professor Popescu, at UC Davis since 2011, directs our first-year Greek program and, in addition, teaches a broad array of courses in upper-division Greek and Latin and in classical civilization. On top of all of that, she maintains a substantial advising portfolio and is often the first person to whom a student interested in majoring in Classics talks about the major. Students consistently heap praise on her lucid presentation of the complexities of Greek grammar, her deep knowledge of the language, and her determination to make sure every student succeeds at the demanding task of studying Greek.
Professor Stem came to Davis in 2006 and almost immediately took up two of his signature instructional projects: overseeing the post-baccalaureate program and managing Latin students’ transition to upper-division work in Latin 100. He has been extraordinarily successful in both these tasks, in addition to teaching numerous courses in advanced Latin and Greek, developing a very successful new course in Roman political thought, and introducing students to the world of Rome in the perennially popular and enthusiastically received Classics 3.
Students wrote detailed and eloquent letters in support of both of these nominations, in both instances praising the unstinting care and personal concern each of these faculty members invests in each of their classes. These awards are a very welcome recognition of that dedication, but they merely confirm what those lucky enough to work with Professors Popescu and Stem already know: each of them is a teacher of rare talent and energy, and we are fortunate indeed to have them as our colleagues.