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Faculty Awards 2021

Galbut Outstanding Faculty Award

Presented to a faculty member who has been outstanding in teaching and in efforts to engage students both inside and outside the classroom; selected from outstanding faculty members nominated by School of Communication students; established by the Galbut family

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is a senior lecturer specializing in music theatre in the Department of Theatre and a Faculty in Residence at Northwestern. Additionally, she serves as a vocal consultant for Chicago’s Lyric Opera and a rap and R&B vocal coach for the organization Rock the Audition. Her forthcoming scholarly book project is titled The Scenario: Hip-Hop History and Performance Techniques for Musical Theatre.

“I have been lucky enough to be Melissa Foster’s student for three years,” said one student. “I mean that word, lucky, with the weight of its truth; working with Melissa, someone who is a leading innovation in her field, an expert beyond compare, a skilled communicator, and an unmatched support, has defined the education I’ve gotten at Northwestern.”

One student, coincidentally, has been working with Foster since long before attending Northwestern and remarked on her good fortune in being placed in Foster’s voice studio during the student’s second year: “I can walk into her (virtual) studio feeling absolutely hopeless and down about myself and walk out feeling confident and energized to succeed…I cannot imagine my life here at Northwestern without having her in my corner.”

Said another: “It is undeniable that Melissa possesses an incredible amount of singing expertise, but, potentially more important to her job as a voice teacher, is her skills at nurturing young talent and young adults,” says one student. “Melissa was able to make me a better singer because she truly cared for me.”

One four-year student of Foster’s recognized her sizable gifts: “She embodies both the skills of a true vocal technician and the enthusiasm of a passionate theatre artist. Melissa has such a deep knowledge of the voice and uses her understanding of vocal anatomy to help students like me optimize their vocal potential…She has changed my voice as an instrument and also helped me find my own artistic voice.”

And yet another student succinctly stated: “Melissa has taught me to be proud and shown me through her own example how to lift people up to their excellence. I am infinitely grateful and forever changed.”

Clarence Simon Awards for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring

Annually recognizes outstanding School of Communication teachers and mentors—one in each of the school’s three divisions (division I, theatre and performance studies; division II, radio/ television/film and communication studies; and division III, communication sciences and disorders)— based on nominations by students and faculty; honors Clarence Simon, who served the school as an outstanding teacher and administrator for many years

(Division I)

Marcus Doshi

Marcus Doshi is an associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Theatre and a highly sought-after lighting designer with many high-profile, international credits.

One colleague called him a “shining star” and noted that Doshi may be the first member of the design faculty to win the Clarence Simon teaching award. This colleague continued: “Student designers flock to him for mentorship and guidance. He is as generous as he is accomplished, and he provides excellent instruction both in and out of the classroom.”

Many students noted Doshi’s high standards that result in high achievement. “Rather than expecting less from me because I was an undergraduate student,” said one, “he held me to the same standards because he knew that I could achieve them.”

Another student praised his strong communication and collaborative instincts. “His unwavering faith in my future success has grown my confidence toward the process of learning and shifted my focus from inadequacy to advancement… His passion and dedication have inspired me to also strive for excellence, which I deeply appreciate.”

Doshi’s classes are highly collaborative and focused on developing not only technical mastery but a deep, foundational understanding of theatre. “He struck a great balance where rigor was expected, and the stakes were high,” said one student, “but I never felt judged or intimidated to the point that would prohibit me from engaging.”

It is Doshi’s investment in the artist as much as their work that was a standout theme among his students, this one included: “I am confident that Professor Doshi’s influence on the way I think about design will stay with me for the rest of my life, and any student who is lucky enough to be taught by him would agree.”

(Division II)

Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith is a professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film and the cofounder and director of the Master of Arts in Sound Arts and Industries program. Smith has written numerous books and experimental audiobooks as well as myriad scholarly articles and book chapters. He co-launched the master’s program five years ago and

“Every time I go a quarter without one of his classes,” said one undergrad, “I often think, ‘I miss having a class with Jake Smith.’”

Smith’s influence doesn’t take long to grasp. A student who has taken one class with him said, “Professor Smith has undoubtedly become one of my favorite professors at Northwestern because of his commitment to teach students as much as possible in the most accessible and entertaining manner possible.”

With thoughtful questions and his signature “yeah, yeah, yeah!” he is a booster of the diverse perspectives of his students. “In no other classes do I finish the quarter feeling like I have learned as much, worked as hard, or had as much fun as I do in any class with Professor Jacob Smith,” said one. “He has made my Northwestern experience worth it more than anything else has.”

One four-year student of Smith’s noted the profound impact he’s had on the student’s academic and professional goals. “(He) is the kind of teacher that students remember for the rest of their lives—I know that I will.”

Moreover, Smith provides not only guidance but encouragement for those entering a competitive but burgeoning field. “(He) fueled my passion for the music and entertainment industry and gave me the confidence to pursue a career in it,” said one student. “It was because of him that I realized that music and film no longer had to merely be hobbies and could actually be potential career-paths for me.”

(Division III)

Adriana Weisleder

Adriana Weisleder is an associate professor in the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the principal investigator of the department’s Child Language Lab. An alumna of the program, Weisleder has become a champion of the inclusive, accessible, and diverse direction the field is headed.

“She advocates to her students the importance of cultural humility during her online classes,” says one student. “But she takes this initiative even further with students in her lab by opening discussions, both student-led and facilitated by a professor, about diversity and equity from both the perspectives of clients in our clinical practice and participants of a study, as well as the clinicians and researchers themselves”

One graduate student noted Weisleder’s keen interest in and talent for educating holistically: “Dr. Weisleder encourages lab members to share their lived experiences and cultivate their interests under her mentorship…her resolute mindset, heartfelt commitment, and unwavering encouragement to fuel lifelong learners is the reason why I’m still here.”

One undergraduate spoke of Weisleder’s enthusiasm for research and how well she explained complicated topics.

“Adriana and her unconditional support for everyone around her made my time in the Child Language Lab an unforgettable growing experience which prepared me more to graduate than any course I took,” said the student. I” am so grateful that she took me in as a nervous freshman and helped me grow into a confident young researcher. “

One student noted how “deeply (she) respects her students, listens and appreciates their ideas, and that “whenever her students are having difficulty solving an issue, she scaffolds them in their learning and promotes critical thinking. She works hard to meet her students where they are at, without judgment, and guides and mentors them in a way that supports their learning effectively.”

Another student glowingly summed up Weisleder’s impact: “(She) is one of the most genuine, authentic, and brilliant people I have ever come across, and she has never failed to support me, encourage me, and inspire me. Throughout this entire academic year, Adriana has made sure we are all learning, conducting ethical and anti-racist research, and having meaningful experiences. These instances truly speak to Dr. Weisleder’s character as a selfless, thoughtful teacher and person.”


Past Year Recipients