Each May, the Wig Distinguished Professor Award is announced during Commencement in recognition of exceptional teaching, concern for students, and service to the College and community. Recipients are elected by the junior and senior classes and confirmed by a committee of trustees, faculty and students. This year’s Wig Award recipients are:
- Konrad Aguilar, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics
- Oona Eisenstadt, Fred Krinsky Professor of Jewish Studies and professor of religious studies
- Jo Hardin ’95, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Sara Masland, assistant professor of psychological science
- David Menefee-Libey, William A. Johnson Professor of Government and professor of politics
- Prageeta Sharma, Henry G. Lee ’37 Professor of English
- Arely Zimmerman, assistant professor of Chicana/o–Latina/o studies
The anonymous ballots include comments from students. Below are selected quotes about each of the recipients.
Students consistently point to Aguilar’s approachability and advocacy for underrepresented students in STEM.
“In a class that has a reputation for being one of the most feared major requirements, Konrad is truly exceptional in making himself accessible to students and breaking down the content and structuring the class in a way that makes it feel manageable. He is also incredibly involved in representing the department and creating a culture of openness and friendliness, whether it’s work with the liaisons or how he invites students into the research world.”
“He really enjoys teaching and answering students’ questions. In office hours with Konrad, you feel comfortable and welcomed.”
Eisenstadt previously won the Wig Award in 2011 and 2018. She specializes in continental philosophy and Judaism.
“Oona Eisenstadt is the embodiment of why I came to Pomona. She is quite obviously incredibly smart, and not in an overbearing self-indulged way, inquisitive, unafraid to express her views or to ask for others that might compete with her own. Her classes that I’ve taken have been my favorites and most interesting in my time here.”
“Oona’s class brought me so much learning and laughter.”
Hardin previously won the Wig Award in 2016, and students appreciate her down-to-earth and effective teaching style. Her courses include Introduction to Biostatistics and Computational Statistics.
“Professor Hardin’s meticulous pedagogy greatly improved my holistic development as a math major at Pomona. Professor Hardin also works hard to connect with all her students. Beyond class settings, I have also had the opportunity to conduct research with Professor Hardin, which has been one of my favorite parts of Pomona. She balanced guiding me through the research process and giving me the autonomy to figure it out independently—making me confident in my abilities.”
“Professor Hardin is caring and makes sure everyone understands. She explains her material in various ways to make it accessible to different types of learners and will explain something patiently as many times as needed.”
Students say that Masland cares deeply about them and what she teaches. Her expertise includes clinical psychology and personality disorders.
“Prof. Masland approaches her courses with a humble wisdom that creates a space where students feel comfortable challenging and engaging deeply with the material. She treats each of her students as whole, valuable contributors to the classroom environment and goes above and beyond to ensure that our opinions are taken seriously. She is committed to challenging and enriching the way that her students think about the field of psychology.”
“She is a wonderful professor, making lectures and discussions very interesting and engaging. She also is incredibly understanding of and patient with her students. I retain the information I learn in her classes more than others and enjoy showing up to her class.”
Menefee-Libey, known affectionately as “DML” on campus, is receiving the Wig Award for the seventh time. His courses include Democracy and Citizenship in Contemporary America and Education Politics & Policy.
“Prof. DML has consistently challenged me to be a better scholar in the politics department as well as a better human being. He is courageous enough to empower each of his students to be critically aware of not only the material we learn each day in class but also to be aware of the very pedagogy we encounter in each learning environment we find ourselves in.”
“In addition to being extremely knowledgeable and whip-smart, DML goes above and beyond to help students, even those who aren’t in his classes. He is self-aware and extremely kind. DML is a fantastic role model—both for other professors and for young adults working towards their degree.”
Sharma teaches classes in poetry, film, interdisciplinary arts and creative writing. Her passion for poetry is felt by students in the classroom.
“Prageeta has transformed my relationship with poetry over the course of college. I am indebted to her skill, criticism and passion for art.”
“Professor Sharma is such a soft, caring, warm presence in class who really helped facilitate a welcoming and enthusiastic creative writing community. She was genuinely curious and interested in what the students had to say/had created. Her responses to student work were so thoughtful and empathetic to the point where even I, as someone who is usually shy to share work, wanted to share my work with Professor Sharma and hear what insight she had to give.”
Students point to Zimmerman’s ability to make them feel welcome in her classes as well as her advocacy for them. Her courses include Intro to Central American Studies and Immigrant Youth Activism.
“Zimmerman’s passion for teaching shows through the class meetings where we have discussion about heavy topics that are sometimes personal. She is also a leader in the community who works closely with local immigrant youth. Learning under the mentorship of Professor Zimmerman has allowed me to better envision my future working with immigrants for advocacy and solidarity with underrepresented folks.”
“Arely Zimmerman is willing to go above and beyond to ensure that all of her students feel safe and comfortable in her classes. She has also done a wonderful job of advocating for student resources to encourage academic performance, especially for her undocumented students.”