Girish N. Bhat, associate professor and chair of the History Department at SUNY Cortland, will be honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching during the 2010 Undergraduate Commencement on Saturday, May 22, in the Park Center.
He becomes the 52nd SUNY Cortland recipient of the award. Evidence of Bhat’s excellence in the classroom was found in student comments, letters from former students, colleague statements, students’ teacher evaluations and through class visits by committee members.
“Together, it strongly suggests that Bhat has high expectations for his students who, in turn, appreciate that he likes them enough to make sure they learn a good deal in his courses in order to receive good grades,” stated the Nominating Committee. “His classes stretch his students intellectually.”
“Dr. Bhat is a great teacher, demanding, but very fair and helpful when you need it,” wrote one of his Russian History students.
While Bhat has an earned reputation as a tough grader, the scores he receives on teacher evaluations consistently place him near the top.
The Nominating Committee recognized that student comments on teacher evaluations frequently extol the traits of a fine teacher: “He might be the best teacher I’ve ever had. He gets an A+.” “He is very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject and adjusts to his class’ needs.” “Always willing to help.” “Overall excellent teacher!” “I usually don’t like history but I loved this class. He is wonderful!”
Bhat has developed and offered 13 courses for the College, from first-year to graduate level. His area of scholarly expertise is late tsarist Russia, though he volunteered early on to fill an important gap for his department by regularly teaching a European women’s history course.
He has published four journal articles, a book chapter on the Russian justice system and five book reviews.
“A recurring observation of Dr. Bhat’s teaching was that his lessons ‘connect the dots’ or ‘make connections’ for his students,” stated the Nominating Committee, praising Bhat’s ability to seamlessly blend lessons on art, music, photographs and pictures of artifacts drawn from both fine and popular culture so his students experience the flavor, as well as the components, of an era.
“Taken together, these practices indicate a teacher who introduces students to new information while concurrently guiding them to analyze it,” the committee stated. “Dr. Bhat wants his students to learn history in a way that goes beyond memorization; he obviously understands that truly learning history has to do with reflection, analysis and application.”
Bhat received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994 and was promoted to associate professor at Cortland in 1998.
Bhat resides in Ithaca with his wife Sharon Steadman, an associate professor in the Sociology/Anthropology Department at SUNY Cortland.