Edward Isser, professor and chair of the theatre department and a member of the College of the Holy Cross faculty since 1995, received the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award at the College’s annual President’s Convocation and Awards Ceremony.
The Holy Cross Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes and honors teaching excellence of the College’s faculty. After careful review of nominations, a committee of students, faculty, and administrators selects the honoree. Recipients demonstrate the College’s commitment to teaching and personalized instruction by making ideas come alive for students both in and out of the classroom. The Distinguished Teaching Award recipient is invited to give the principal address during the Faculty Convocation in the fall.
“Teaching—in any discipline—demands great sensitivity to our students’ needs,” said Timothy Austin, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, at the President’s Convocation. “Isser offers frank critiques of the students’ work while still affirming their willingness to risk, to move beyond the comfort of the known and face the monsters many of us avoid.”
Responding to news of the honor, Isser says, “The award means a great deal to me because it’s an affirmation of the centrality of the arts at Holy Cross, and recognition of the work of all the faculty and staff of the Department of Theatre.” Isser, who specializes in Shakespeare, literature, and directing, also teaches in the College’s Montserrat program, and leads a Maymester trip to London called “British Theatre in Perspective.” He says, “In the age of Google and Wikipedia, teaching has to transcend the mere transmission of information by emphasizing critical thinking, discernment, and the application of ethical values.”
Isser, who earned a joint Ph.D. in drama and humanities from Stanford University, is also the author of the book “Stages of Annihilation: Theatrical Representations of the Holocaust” (Fairleigh Dickinson, UP, 1997), as well as numerous scholarly articles. He has directed thirty-five theatrical productions, including a dozen of Shakespeare’s plays on campus, in Worcester’s Green Hill Park and at the now defunct Foothills Theatre. He says he owes his success to his colleagues and students, as he remarks that “education is always a collaboration between teachers and students, and nothing is more collaborative than the production of theatre.” Furthermore, he notes that he is proud to teach at an institution that strives to uphold the value of “creating men and women dedicated to others,” and that similarly, he understands that “The creation of art is about the human spirit; without it, our lives are devoid of wonder and meaning.”
The recipient of many awards and fellowships, Isser received the College’s Arthur J. O’Leary Faculty Recognition Award in 2008. He lives in West Greenwich, R.I.