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German professor wins Culicchia Award

April 29th, 2010

Julia Karolle-Berg, an associate professor in German in the department of classical and modern languages and cultures, was awarded the Lucrezia Culicchia Award for Teaching Excellence. According to John Carroll University’s Web site, the award is given to a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences “who [has] made a distinct difference in the teaching climate of the College.”

Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, chair of the department of classical and modern languages and cultures, said Karolle-Berg’s work goes above and beyond the Culicchia Award requirements.

“[Prof.] Karolle-Berg’s students have been overheard to remark that her teaching methods made them actually ‘think in German,’” she said. “Her dedication to helping students develop an appreciation and awareness of higher order language skills and comparative cultural analysis skills are also clearly evident in the upper level content courses that she offers.”

Pereszlenyi-Pinter noted that Karolle-Berg deserves commendation for her teaching of German Play Production, which was open to students studying any level of German that were interested in producing three short plays. The students put on two public showings of the plays.

“I was exceptionally impressed with the high level of achievement and also the enthusiasm with which not only [Prof.] Karolle-Berg, but also her students embraced this project,” Pereszlenyi-Pinter said.

First, as a visiting professor, and now, as a full-time faculty member, Karolle-Berg has enjoyed teaching and mentoring throughout her entire career.

“It is particularly rewarding to help students zero in on what they are good at, what they love, and what is important to them over the course of their college education,” she said. “I believe that if young people can identify these things, they are in a good position to figure out what kind of career will fulfill them.”

Faculty are nominated for the award by other professors in the college. The nominations must also include letters from three current JCU students who have taken a course with the nominee and letters from two faculty colleagues. Letters of support from alumni are also welcomed.

Beth Martin, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the students were especially impressed that Karolle-Berg manages the German major entirely on her own. She also said while speaking the language might be unnerving for some students, Karolle-Berg makes it easy.

“She turns it into a fun and interesting experience,” Martin said.

Gwen Compton-Engle, an associate professor of classics and Karolle-Berg’s nominator, agrees.

“She works very hard to create a lively and engaging classroom experience for her students, using a wide variety of in-class activities,” she said.

Karolle-Berg found her love for teaching during her senior year at the University of Michigan as she worked with her adviser to write her honors thesis in German.

“My mentor was a wonderfully committed teacher and scholar,” Karolle-Berg said. “I enjoyed working with her on my thesis so much that I realized I wanted to make this type of relationship what I did professionally.”

Her work as an adviser to students from Germany, that are attending JCU, benefits both the department and the University.

“Her service as academic adviser to the Dortmund (Germany) students is immensely appreciated, not only by the students themselves, but [also] by the University as a whole, given that having foreign students here at JCU adds to the prestige of the University and aids in its globalization and diversity efforts,” Pereszlenyi-Pinter said.