Frances Dolan is a Shakespeare scholar, but her intellectual curiosity and desire for connection with her students and community have also made her well versed in Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket and Northern California farming.
The distinguished professor of English is this year’s winner of the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement.
“I believe in books and reading, in reading aloud and sharing a story as well as being able to disappear into the pages of a book,” Dolan said. “I always love sharing that with others.”
The prize, established in 1986, honors faculty who are both exceptional teachers and scholars. The $45,000 prize is believed to be the largest of its kind in the country and is funded through philanthropic gifts from the UC Davis Foundation. Dolan is the first English professor to win the award.
“I am committed to teaching at a public university, and trying to give students the experience of a liberal arts college as well as the resources of a big public university,” said Dolan, who came to UC Davis in 2003. “Every class is a collaboration with the students. What can happen in the classroom is so dependent on students’ preparation and engagement.”
Dolan has taught a variety of courses from pre-1800 British drama to contemporary children’s literature. She has edited Shakespeare’s plays, been president of the Shakespeare Association of America and published six books. Previous awards at UC Davis include Outstanding Graduate Mentor, Herbert A. Young Society Deans' Fellow and the Academic Senate Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled Time and Terroir: A Northern California Renaissance. It will examine England, circa 1550–1759, and Northern California today as places of agricultural innovations and how the two times and places are connected.
“UC Davis is very fortunate to have a professor who shares her love of literary analysis of multiple genres to motivate you, her students, and your intellectual inquiries and help you develop your own passions in reading regardless of where your careers might take you,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi at a March award presentation event that took place during one of Professor Dolan’s classes.
— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science