We are excited to announce that UCI Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education Michael Dennin’s blog has been selected as a CASE 2022 Best of District VII Award Winner! The blog, titled Dennin Insights, was one of the winning submissions in the category “Writing: Column or Opinion Piece.”
About the Award
CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) is a global nonprofit association that champions education to transform lives and society. CASE strives to advance higher education by inspiring professionals to support the success of their institutions in new and innovative ways.
CASE presents several awards throughout the year to celebrate the individuals, organizations, and initiatives that demonstrate excellence in education advancement. CASE District Awards recognize institutions across the U.S. for their superior accomplishments, lasting impact, and exceptional results. CASE District VII represents the western region of the U.S., including Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Utah.
The 2022 CASE Best of District VII Awards celebrate winning entries across a broad array of categories, including writing, communications, design, and much more. Dennin Insights received the Best of District VII Award for “Writing: Column or Opinion Piece,” which recognizes excellence in a collection of three to five related articles. Entries in this category were evaluated on the following criteria:
- Overall concept and creativity
- Research and reporting
- Organization, writing, and editing
- Understanding of target audience(s)
- Use of resources (budget, people, and time) and return on investment
- Quality and clarity of nomination and supporting materials
- Special circumstances/overcoming adversity
About Dennin Insights
Vice Provost Dennin launched Dennin Insights in March 2021 to share his thoughts on post-pandemic teaching, eliminating institutional barriers to student success, and creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive university environment for all students. For the award, a collection of five Dennin Insights posts on grading, course design, and student evaluation were submitted:
- Episode 3: Grades Are Not a Rare Commodity
- Episode 4: Broader Standards Not Lower Standards
- Episode 5: Academic Integrity and Authentic Assessments
- Episode 8: Should the Undergraduate Experience Be a Filter or a Telescope?
- Episode 9: Hard is Not the Same as Rigorous
These posts are particularly impactful because they call out many of the accepted operational standards that colleges and universities uphold purely for tradition or efficiency. In this collection of posts, Vice Provost Dennin advocates for students and calls for systemwide changes to eliminate unnecessary barriers that place low-income, minority, and first-generation students at a disadvantage.
These and many other posts illustrate the uniquely critical stance that Vice Provost Dennin takes on many university structures. Because Vice Provost Dennin is an active professor as well as a top administrator at UCI, he has a first-hand understanding of what his arguments and suggestions entail. He does not write these posts in a vacuum—his criticism and proposals stem from classroom experience and his direct interactions with students and fellow faculty members.
Dennin Insights is also unique because Vice Provost Dennin treats it as his personal blog. Many of his posts share funny anecdotes and relatable experiences and are written in a conversational tone that really showcases Vice Provost Dennin’s personality and voice. This allows him to share his thoughts candidly and explain the reasoning behind his stances without concern that his arguments will be misconstrued or taken out of context.
Vice Provost Dennin often reminds his readers that his blog cannot be a magic anecdote that instantly solves the issues ingrained within the higher education system. However, he dedicates Dennin Insights as a catalyst for redefining university structures to make them more equitable, inclusive, and representative of life in the 21st century. The blog provides a crucial starting point for meaningful discussion amongst students, faculty, and administrators alike. While Vice Provost Dennin is critical of many university structures and practices, his deep-seated belief that the higher education system is a conduit for good always shines through. He does not write to attack and dismantle the higher education system; he writes to encourage it to live up to its stated goals of empowering students, offering opportunities for development and growth, and producing lifelong learners.
Award Recognition and Response
“I’m honored that my blog was selected as a Best of District VII Award winner alongside such excellent submissions from across the district,” says Vice Provost Dennin. He adds:
“I’m passionate about the work that I do as a professor, Dean, and Vice Provost, and I’m grateful to have a platform that allows me to share my experience and thoughts in a more personal way. I’m excited to continue sharing my insights and sparking meaningful conversations that will hopefully make the higher education system more equitable for all current and future students.”
2022 CASE Best of District VII Award recipients will be honored at the District VII Annual Conference in San Francisco on March 19-23, 2023. To learn more about Dennin Insights and explore all the posts, visit Vice Provost Dennin’s blog page. To learn more about the OVPTL’s other winning submission for the First Things First project, check out the announcement article here. Finally, for more information on the 2022 CASE Best of District VII Awards, visit the winners’ gallery here.
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