University at Albany

Excellence in Teaching (Teaching by Graduate Student)

Each year, the University at Albany honors special members of its community with Excellence Awards denoting exceptional contributions to the life of the campus. Two faculty members received this tribute in 2014 for Excellence in Teaching (Teaching by Graduate Student).

Kristen HouriganSociology

Kristen Hourigan embodies excellence in teaching and student services while holding students to high standards. She goes above and beyond in her powerful commitment to learning about and implementing current pedagogical techniques, to create a truly active and engaged classroom environment—one that challenges and inspires students. She has extraordinarily diverse skills, having taught small classes and classes of over 100 students, as well as writing intensive courses and challenging statistics courses, within the Department of Sociology. 

Ms. Hourigan varies her approaches, using individual and group exercises, for class assignments, papers, presentations, class debates, and exams. All of her forms of assessment (including exams!) are creative, and challenge the students to improve their understanding of key concepts, apply those concepts to new situations, and to connect the material to the real world. 

In the classroom, Ms. Hourigan is an energetic and enthusiastic instructor who works hard to make the classroom an interesting, challenging, and supportive environment. Colleagues are impressed to see how she knows the students’ names even in a class that numbers over 120, and how she creates a safe learning environment, where they feel comfortable participating when discussing challenging ideas.

In her statistics courses she creates hands-on activities for students, and they regularly comment that she helped them to learn the concepts, improved their critical thinking skills, and allowed them to make connections to real-life applications.

Students also comment on how easy it is to speak to her, how she is always finding time outside of office hours to discuss a variety of topics and often moved her office hours to accommodate students with different schedules.

Ms. Hourigan demonstrates a profound commitment to scholarship and professional growth, actively applying new ideas from ITLAL, and from her own reading, in her classrooms. She serves on ITLAL’s Future Faculty Leadership Council, has given presentations at ITLAL events, and has presented her work at conferences dedicated to teaching.

Her commitment to learning about, implementing and improving on teaching techniques to create an active and engaged classroom that challenges and inspires students stands out among her faculty and graduate student colleagues.

Excellence in Teaching (Teaching by Graduate Student)

David Jones
Kristen Hourigan
David Jones

Students participate in more than 200 student clubs and honor societies, and enjoy a busy calendar of campus events.