Susanna Rinehart, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Cinema in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2013 Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholars Award.

Sponsored by the Diggs Endowed Professorship Fund and the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to three Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment. A cash award is given to each recipient and their academic department. Diggs Teaching Scholars are invited to lead the Diggs Roundtable -- a series of presentations and a discussion of their innovative teaching–a year after receiving the award.

The award is supported by an endowed fund from an estate gift by the late Edward S. and Hattie Wilson Diggs. Edward Diggs was a 1914 graduate of Virginia Tech.

Rinehart has taught introductory theater classes of 400 to 500 students every semester since she joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1999, and she consistently receives teaching evaluations ranging from 3.8 to 4.0 on a four-point scale.

“To receive overall student evaluations this high on a regular basis in any class would be a remarkable achievement for most teachers,” said Patty Raun, professor, department head, and director of the School of Performing Arts and Cinema. “To receive such evaluations in an elective course from classes of more than 500 students with a wide range of majors, as Susanna does, is nothing short of amazing.”

Rinehart has proposed a Teaching Enhancement Project to demonstrate the ways in which teachers can use the direct application of acting technique and methodology for more connected, effective, and engaged teaching, especially teaching in large classes.

“There is an element of performance in teaching a large class or any class,” Rinehart said. “However in good teaching, that does not mean lack of authenticity. It is quite the opposite — a deeper, more energized, and conscious authenticity.”

Among her most recent stage accolades, Rinehart directed Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things,” which ran in February at Squires Haymarket Theater. Last October, she directed a staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8” at the Lyric and was stage director for “Sheer Good Fortune: A Celebration of Toni Morrison” at Burruss Hall.

Rinehart has received teaching awards from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Office of Residence Life and Student Programs, and the Panhellenic Council. She is active in the Faculty Senate and University Council.

Rinehart received both a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



Written by Catherine Doss.

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