Innovations in undergraduate teaching and dedication to her students earned Elizabeth Dickinson one of the University’s top awards.
Dickinson, a management and corporate communication professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler, received a Chapman Family Teaching Award for excellence in teaching undergraduate students. The award was created with a gift from Max C. Chapman Jr. (BA ’66), an emeritus member of the Board of Advisors at UNC Kenan-Flagler, on behalf of the Chapman family, and carries a $30,000 stipend.
Dickinson has been described as creating and teaching classes that “aren’t even on the radar yet” in most schools. She investigates the complexities of gender issues in the workplace, the appropriation of culture identities and the overarching issues of diversity and inclusiveness in business settings.
Learning is a two-way street in her classroom. Her students have taught her “everything, but mostly passion, hope and kindness.” And her young daughter “has taught me patience and humility. I see my students through new eyes after becoming a parent.”
Adaptability is key to effective teaching, Dickinson says. “After 20 years in the classroom, I must constantly evolve with students. I’m always changing what I do to meet their learning styles and needs. I’m always fascinated to check my ego and learn more about them.”
She uses lots of experiential, engaged activities and simulations. For example, recently, in her Gender at Work class, when discussing gender discrimination in organizations and lawsuits, she has two students perform for the class a deposition between Taylor Swift and an attorney. “This engaged exchange helps students experience what people can go through when they file discrimination claims and how it can affect them mentally at work.”
Dickinson is integral to spreading the message of inclusiveness by teaching faculty workshops on diversity and inclusiveness. Her workshops are creating “a ripple effect throughout undergraduate training,” says Judy Tisdale, chair of the management and corporate communication area at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Her classes have been so well received that they have been adopted in both the MBA and the Masters of Accounting programs.
She is an outstanding advocate for students and aims to make sure they all “can learn while feeling challenged, respected, appreciated, safe and enlightened.”
Clearly, she is making a difference in students’ lives. As one wrote: “Elizabeth is not just your professor for the semester, she is your educator, friend and mentor for life. If you need her, there is nothing she wouldn’t do for you. She is always available for a phone call to chat about career advice, or an email exchange to help you out with that application essay. There is nothing that you cannot ask of her because she is truly the most giving educator, if not person, out there.”