Excellence in Teaching - TA Awards

By Anne Sullivan, PhD |

It’s that time of year: awards season. No, not the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards. It’s time to celebrate graduate student teachers with the annual Outstanding Teaching Assistant (TA) Awards and the Distinguished Teaching Awards at the TA Development Program's Excellence in Teaching Banquet! 


[Image description: Ke Huy Quan saying “Thank you so much,” while pumping his fist and holding the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in the other hand.]

Pictured: Being recognized by your peers and mentors can get pretty emotional.

What is an Outstanding TA Award?

Outstanding TA Awards, as the name suggests, recognize graduate students who have provided outstanding teaching for UC Riverside students. These competitive awards are decided at the departmental level, which means that each department handles the nominations and final selection process. For Spring 2023, anyone who worked as a Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow, or Associate-In during Spring 2022, Fall 2022, and/or Winter 2023 is eligible for consideration. Graduate students cannot nominate themselves for these awards. Instead, this is an opportunity for faculty to nominate TAs. Graduate Division then presents these awards to the deserving recipients at the Excellence in Teaching Banquet where they can enjoy a celebratory meal with their fellow awardees. Later, recipients can cite this accolade when applying to future jobs.

What is the Distinguished Teaching Award?

The Distinguished Teaching Award, as the TADP website states, “is a highly competitive award granted by Graduate Division that recognizes exceptional teaching demonstrated by a graduate student as a Teaching Assistant or Associate-In.” Two or three awards are granted each year: usually one award is granted to a graduate student in STEM and one is granted to a graduate student in the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, Education, or School of Business.

DTA flyer is bordered by diagonal yellow lines on top and bottom. The title appears in dark blue text and details are in black ink. The flyer also features the TADP logo.

[Image Description: The flyer is bordered by diagonal yellow lines on top and bottom. The title appears in dark blue text and details are in black ink. The flyer also features the TADP logo.]

Pictured: Don’t forget to nominate your peers by the deadline, April 9th

Submit your nominations by 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 9, 2023! As the flyer states, nominations are welcome from faculty, graduate student peers, and undergraduate students. You can nominate yourself for this award, but self-nominations must be supplemented by additional nominations. An important disclaimer: “Nominees must have been enrolled graduate students that held a teaching assistant or associate-in position during Spring 2022, Fall 2022, and/or Winter 2023 Quarter(s). Summer term appointments are not eligible for consideration for this award” (TADP website). Please visit the TADP website for additional information and instructions before filling out the nomination form.

Similar to their Outstanding TA Award counterparts, recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award will be feted at the Excellence in Teaching Banquet. Late, they can highlight this prestigious prize (which includes a trophy and some prize money) when applying to future jobs.

The RETURN of the Excellence in Teaching Banquet

Spring 2023 marks the return of the Excellence in Teaching Banquet for the first time since its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19. Sure, the 95th Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, but UC Riverside’s banquet will be emceed by none other than the Dean of Graduate Division, Shaun Bowler. Perhaps we can persuade Dean Bowler to add a bit of jazz to his opening remarks with a dance number in the style of so many other award show hosts and presenters? 


[Image Description: Rachel Bloom sings and dances at the 2017 Emmy Awards.]

Pictured: Do you have your dancing shoes ready, Dean Bowler?

Just kidding! All jokes aside, Graduate Division is really excited that we will finally have an in-person opportunity to celebrate our illustrious graduate students’ commitment to teaching. As all TAs know, teaching is just one of many responsibilities that you juggle here at UC Riverside, and our Graduate Division team will take every opportunity to mark the dedication and innovation that you bring into your classrooms. The banquet also provides an important opportunity to recognize the achievements of participants in the University Teaching Certificate (UTC) program. UTC participants enter the two-quarter, four-credit program through a competitive application process, and then enroll in a seminar and practicum on pedagogical theory and methods, receive feedback on a teaching observation, and complete a comprehensive Teaching Portfolio.

Follow GradSuccess on our social media platforms to learn which of your friends and colleagues get recognized with Outstanding TA Awards, Distinguished Teaching Awards, and University Teaching Certificates!