Two UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) assistant professors have been named University Teaching Award recipients. Dr. Jaime Arguello won the 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, and Dr. Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi won the 2017 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
These prestigious and highly-competitive awards are given to just a few select UNC Chapel Hill faculty members each year. Arguello and Jarrahi will be recognized during the half-time ceremony at the UNC-Pitt men’s basketball game in the Dean E. Smith Center on January 31. They will also each be presented a certificate and monetary award at a special ceremony at the Rizzo Center on April 4.
“I am so proud of our latest two award-winning teachers at SILS,” said SILS Dean Gary Marchionini. “Their recognitions are a testament to their abilities and efforts, but also to the culture of excellence and high expectations we all hold dear at SILS. Our students expect and demand extraordinary teaching and mentoring, our senior faculty have long modeled such excellence and insisted that it be fundamental to our school’s mission, and our staff support this mission with exceptional service and caring attention.”
Arguello and Jarrahi are past recipients of the SILS Deborah Barreau Award for Teaching Excellence. A student who nominated Arguello in 2014 described him as “an amazing teacher who makes things not only interesting, but leaves you with a hunger to go out and learn more.”
Arguello teaches courses including INLS 509: Information Retrieval, which focuses on the underlying theory and methods behind modern-day search engines, and INLS 613: Text Data Mining, which introduces students to the practice of applying machine learning algorithms for predictive and exploratory analysis of text. These courses examine highly technical and complex topics that can be intimidating for some students, but Arguello’s approach to the material helps them develop the needed mastery and builds their confidence in their own abilities.
Jarrahi teaches undergraduate introductory courses, such as INLS385: Information Use for Organizational Effectiveness, as well as one of SILS most advanced undergraduate courses, INLS697: Information Science Capstone, in which Jarrahi employs the flipped classroom model to empower seniors as they prepare to graduate. A student who nominated Jarrahi for the 2015 teaching award from SILS said that he, “develops a relationship with each person in the classroom, adapts to the needs of students and the changing job market, is always up-to-date on the latest news and developments in information science, and keeps the class grounded through an emphasis in application.”
Both Arguello and Jarrahi said they were extremely honored and humbled to receive this latest acknowledgement of their teaching.
“I really appreciate that my students, colleagues, and the campus community recognize my teaching approach and specifically the way I mentor undergraduate students,” Jarrahi said. “Teaching to me is the process of sharing my research findings with students; this does not only involve conveying content, but it also enables me to empower students to embark on their own learning pursuit, something that they can continue even after graduating.”
Arguello said the recent recognition has made him even more determined in his teaching mission. “Teaching is difficult, and I wish to dedicate this award to all teachers,” he said. “SILS has incredible teachers who are passionate in their mission, creative in their methods, and resilient in their cause. In my own career, I have had great teachers and mentors who have pushed me and guided me to accomplish more than I thought I could. Thank you. To the SILS and UNC community, I pledge my commitment to work hard and creatively to earn this award in the years to come.”