Paxton Wins Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence

She is open to change, mindful of student feedback, and considers her classroom a community of learners.

By Ashton Yount

Felicity Paxton, Annenberg Lecturer and Director of the Penn Women’s Center (PWC), is a 2018 recipient of the University of Pennsylvania’s Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty. Two non-standing faculty members are recognized each year from across the University, one from a health related program and one from a non-health related program. Paxton will officially receive her award on Wednesday, April 25.

Established in 1988, the Provost’s teaching awards recognize standing and non-standing faculty whose teaching is “intellectually demanding, unusually coherent, and permanent in its effect.” Award winners are those teachers who are capable of changing the way students view subject material, accessible to students and open to new ideas, and fair and free from prejudice.

Litty Paxton
Felicity (Litty) Paxton

At Annenberg, Paxton teaches two undergraduate courses, COMM 123: Critical Approaches to Popular Culture and COMM 388: Ritual Communication. Her colleagues and teaching fellows say she is open to change, mindful of student feedback, and considers her classroom a community of learners.

“Litty is an engaging teacher, who is excellent at eliciting intellectual contributions from her students,” says Carolyn Marvin, Francis Yates Emeritus Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School. “She always finds a way to get her students to connect to the subject matter in a meaningful way.”

Paxton is considered by many Annenberg students – both graduate and undergraduate – to be one of the school’s best teachers. She is lauded for her feminist pedagogical philosophy, her proactive approach to checking in on her students, and her love for teaching itself.

“Litty Paxton taught me that great professors work at becoming great, often when no one is watching,” says Rosie Clark-Parsons, Annenberg doctoral student and two time teaching fellow of Paxton’s. “I cannot imagine a better candidate for the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by Non-Standing Faculty, nor could I dream up a better role model for aspiring educators at Penn.”

As Director of the PWC, Paxton oversaw the creation of Penn Violence Prevention, established PWC’s first ever lactation room, and directed the award-winning creation of Penn’s first Environmental Education Kitchen. She also launched Voices of Change, a video-series that documents inspiring stories of a diverse range of female leaders at Penn.

Prior to 2018, the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty has been twice awarded to Annenberg faculty, including Amy Jordan in 2014 and David Eisenhower in 2003.

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