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Faculty Awards 2022

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

Julie Marie Myatt

Julie Marie Myatt

Julie Marie Myatt is an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Theatre who teaches playwriting. Having had plays produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Kennedy Center, Guthrie Theater and more, Myatt is well versed in the process of creating vibrant stories viable for production. Moreover, Myatt is an exceptional mentor to her students and has carved out a reputation as being supportive, encouraging, and inclusive.

“When I tell my kids about my own college experience, the first name I will bring up is that of Julie Marie Myatt, whose teaching methods and relentlessly kind mentorship helped me both fall in love with playwriting and write the best pieces I have ever written,” says one student.

Another extolls: “To be in her classes is to feel seen, supported, understood, intellectually engaged, creatively challenged, and, above all, valued for who you are and the perspective that only you have. I have no idea where I would be if I had not taken Intro to Playwriting with Professor Myatt, but I know that I would not be anywhere near as artistically fulfilled or happy as I am because of the path that she launched me on.”

Students spoke of Myatt’s palpable joy for the craft, her nurturing guidance, and how she “made it clear that everyone was there to learn, to be challenged, to be supported, and to support one another.”

In summary: “Julie fosters a fun, safe, and eminently familial classroom environment, a place where I’ve laughed so hard, I’ve cried and felt able to show parts of myself and my work without fear of cruel critique. Julie deserves every accolade you can give a professor at Northwestern, so throw whatever awards you have in your cabinet at her. Do you have a Pulitzer lying around? Does it belong to someone else? I don’t care, give it to Julie. She’s earned it.”

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)

Masi Asare

Masi Asare

Masi Asare is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and a Tony Award-nominated composer/lyricist, playwright, voice teacher, and interdisciplinary performance scholar. She teaches courses in musical theatre studies, vocal performance studies, and musical theatre writing. Her lyrics for Paradise Square earned her a 2022 Tony nomination; the show is nominated for best new musical. Additional theatre works include the one-act Mirror of Most Value: A Ms. Marvel Play, about teen superhero Kamala Khan; music and lyrics for the secret agent musical Sympathy Jones (Playscripts), with 40 productions to date internationally; and book, music, and lyrics for The Family Resemblance, an original musical about a mixed-race family, commissioned by Theatre Royal Stratford East and developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center/National Music Theatre Conference. Her voice students have performed on Broadway and well beyond.

Asare’s on-campus work is focused on her students, who call her an inspiring, talented, thorough, and supportive professor and mentor.

“Dr. Asare is precisely the kind of professor any theatre department should pursue and cherish—her academic and creative work are intertwined and enrich each other, allowing her students a unique insight into both the epistemological possibilities and ontological realities of our art form,” says one student. “She has encouraged me and helped me find my voice as a writer both through direct mentorship and through simple proximity, in being able to observe her creative process in a more intimate capacity.”

Asare’s mantra of “artists are theorists” inspired this student, who has changed “how I approach my research (and helped me) see value in my own creative practice.”

But it’s the way she seamlessly inhabits both worlds, as an educator and creator, that has resonated with this student: “Dr. Asare models the role of an artist-scholar with tremendous grace and generosity. Her teaching and mentorship support students of all levels, backgrounds, and interests. She is an inspiration for me as I strive to become an artist, theorist, and educator in the professoriate.”

(Division II)

Erin Courtney

Erin Courtney

Erin Courtney is an assistant professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film and an award-winning playwright. Her play A Map of Virtue enjoyed numerous productions around the country and was awarded an Obie and nominated for a GLAAD Award. In addition to plays, Courtney has written two operas and is crafting musicals. She is affiliated with a number of notable theaters and collectives and was the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 2013. But on campus, Courtney is known for her inspired approach to writing, breadth of expertise, and supportive spirit.

“Her support cannot be overstated,” says one student. “I have witnessed, over and over, how this radically transforms a student’s relationship to their writing, myself included. Erin converts the craft of writing—often a solitary, isolating practice—into a chance for community and celebration. Teaching writers is an ancient art, and Erin is an alchemist.”

Preparing students for a profession in a tough industry is no easy task, but Courtney selflessly gives of her time to ensure budding writers are ready and excited for what’s next.

Says one student: “Professor Courtney showed me my ideas when I did not know where to look for them, and to me that is the sign of a truly great teacher—someone who uncovers the ideas that already exist deep withing the student but require a bit of friendly challenging to come to fruition.”

Courtney believes in her students and gets to know them on a personal level. This helps build trust in a process that is often fraught with anxiety.

“She acknowledges and encourages all of her students’ efforts with equal parts patience, respect, and honesty,” says a student. “In a course of study where writers can frequently feel intimidated by audience reactions, Professor Courtney led by example in ensuring that we would all feel absolutely comfortable to sing, cheer, and dig deep into stories that we feel are important to tell.”

(Division III)

Jonathan Siegel

Jonathan Siegel

Jonathan Siegel is a neurobiologist with a long-standing interest in auditory physiology. He is an associate professor in the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, as well as an associate professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Siegel’s primary research interests are otoacoustic emissions and hair cell physiology. He is the principal investigator in the Otoacoustic Emissions Laboratory, and he is also a collaborator in the School of Communication’s Auditory Research Lab.

As a professor, though, Siegel is a personable, encouraging, attentive presence for his students and is set on making the learning experience effective and meaningful for them.

“Dr. Siegel is an enthusiastic instructor who leaves no questions unanswered,” says one student. “His enthusiasm for scientific curiosity is infectious. You can see him glow when a student asks a question that shows a deeper understanding of the class content.”

When the pandemic hit, Siegel’s hybrid class model was notably effective, with students raving at his course delivery methods and clarity of topics. He made sure to get to know his students, too, however, even if it was on Zoom.

“Dr. Siegel is invested in getting to know his students,” says another student. “He made a point to meet with every one of the graduate students during the first week of classes to get to know us and understand our background with the class material.”

This process can be particularly helpful for undergraduate students, who might feel some trepidation about learning alongside graduate students.

“I was initially intimidated by this make-up of the class, but Professor Siegel was very reassuring and worked with the students to ensure that no one felt overwhelmed or left behind with the course material and the pace of the course,” says one undergraduate. “I never felt as though he was out of reach, disconnected from the course, or unwilling to provide help and support to students.”