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December 4, 2006

Linguistics professor receives humanities teaching award at Cowell reception

By Scott Rappaport

Linguistics professor Jaye Padgett was presented with the 2006 John Dizikes Teaching Award in Humanities at a reception held in late November at the new Humanities Building in Cowell College.

Photo of John Dizikes, Gilad Gressel, Jaye Padgett
From left, American studies professor emeritus John Dizikes; senior linguistics major Gilad Gressel; and linguistics professor Jaye Padgett

Photo: Scott Rappaport

Established in 2002 to honor outstanding teaching by humanities faculty, the award was named in honor of one of UCSC’s founding faculty members.

Now a professor emeritus of American studies, Dizikes served as Cowell College provost and mentored thousands of students during his 30-year teaching career.

In addition to being honored with a check for $3,000, Padgett was also entitled to select an undergraduate student to receive a $3,000 scholarship. He chose Gilad Gressel, a senior linguistics major he has taught since last fall in his phonology classes.

“Gilad was one of the best students in the class,” Padgett noted. “I picked him because I admired his enthusiasm, his passion, and his integrity. He was interested in getting at the truth behind the theories and not just giving the answers he thought we wanted--he pushes to understand more deeply and that means a lot to me.”

Padgett’s research focus is on phonology--the study of human speech sound patternings. Although his work is directed toward an understanding of language in general, his main language interest is Russian. Padgett joined the UCSC faculty in 1992.

Before presenting him with the award at the reception, humanities dean Georges Van Den Abbeele read a number of student comments about the linguistics professor’s teaching style. One student praised Padgett’s “extraordinarily engaging methods in teaching difficult topics…including making phonology fun!” Another added that Padgett excelled at “treating students as potential colleagues,” which the dean noted “is a hallmark of undergraduate teaching at UCSC.”

Gressel said that he planned to use the student scholarship award to pay off college loans, noting that he was highly impressed by Padgett’s personal approach to teaching. “Taking his classes helped me to focus on my interests and decide on a major in linguistics,” Gressel added.


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