Campus News

Three faculty members receive 2020 Russell Awards

Three University of Georgia faculty members have been named recipients of the Richard B. Russell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the university’s highest early career teaching honor.

“By recognizing early career faculty for exemplary instruction, the University of Georgia communicates the high value it places on creating outstanding learning experiences and outcomes for students,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I congratulate this year’s recipients of the Russell Awards and thank them for helping make this institution one of America’s leading public universities.”

The Russell Foundation established the Russell Awards during the 1991-1992 academic year to honor the late U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell. The awards include a $10,000 cash award.

The 2020 Russell Award winners are Tessa Andrews, associate professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Tim Samples, associate professor of legal studies in the Terry College of Business, and Jerry Shannon, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the department of geography in the Franklin College and in the College of Family and Consumer Science’s department of financial planning, housing and consumer economics.

• Andrews draws on evidence-based teaching strategies to engage students in scientific thinking and practices in the classroom. Her strategies of instruction are highly informed by scientific literature about effective teaching and the recommendations of the UGA Task Force on Student Learning and Success. She has redesigned each course she has taught at UGA to challenge her students and encourage a collaborative learning environment. In addition to her exceptional classroom instruction, Andrews fully integrates students into her own research. This involvement provides them with in-depth educational experiences and career development.

In addition to receiving a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, she is a member of the Department and Leadership Teams for Action project, a $2.9 million NSF-funded project to support the implementation of evidence-based teaching in introductory STEM courses at UGA. Her honors include the Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award and being named a CTL Fellow for Innovative Teaching and a Lilly Teaching Fellow.

• Samples’ impact on students reaches far beyond the classroom. He focuses on undergraduate research opportunities, developing partnerships with institutions abroad and fostering meaningful mentoring relationships with students through service and engagement with student-oriented organizations. Samples redesigned his upper-division course in legal issues in international business to be multi-faceted and highly interactive. He also has taught a variety of courses in Argentina, Chile and Cuba. His incorporation of experiential learning components has impacted his student’ educational outcomes and career paths, as supported on his outstanding student evaluations.

Among the UGA awards he has received are the Outstanding Teacher Recognition by the Student Government Association, the Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award and being named a Fellow of the Teaching Academy and a Lilly Teaching Fellow. Samples also has received the Core Fulbright U.S. Teaching Scholar grant to conduct research in Argentina and teach courses at Universidad de Buenos Aires. He has served as secretary, vice president and most recently president of the International Section of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business.

• Shannon designed and created a program in community geography, which focuses on service-learning and participatory research in local communities and across the state. With a strong commitment to service-learning, he also created the Community Mapping Lab in 2015. The purpose of this lab is to support community research partnerships and give his undergraduate students a hands-on opportunity to collaborate with organizations across the state of Georgia on issues of food, housing and transportation. Shannon’s students are offered experiential research opportunities through his community geographic information systems course, in which they partner with Athens individuals and organizations using geographic analysis to address pressing social issues and concerns.

He has received the Sandy Beaver Excellence in Teaching Award and the Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award. In addition, he has been named a Lilly Teaching Fellow, Service-Learning Fellow and Teaching Academy Fellow. Shannon also maintains numerous local and state partnerships. These include working with rural communities around the state on housing issues through the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing.

Nominations for the Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are submitted by deans and considered by a committee of senior faculty members and undergraduate students. Tenure-track faculty members who have worked at UGA for at least three years and no more than 10 years are eligible for the award.

To learn more about the Russell Awards and for a list of past winners, see