Academics and Research / News

Holland named top adjunct at DU

Lynn Holland was recognized with the 2011 Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award at DU's Convocation on Oct. 5. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

When Lynn Holland tells her graduating students at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, “Don’t forget to write!” She means it.

Holland, who was recognized with the 2011 Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award for adjunct faculty at DU’s Convocation on Oct. 5, says one of the best aspects of being a teacher is keeping in touch.

“It’s really nice when you touch base with [students] again a couple of years after they’ve graduated and see the kinds of work they’ve done, the kinds of experiences they’ve had,” Holland says.

The award — in its 12th year — is presented annually to an adjunct professor who demonstrates teaching excellence.

Holland has taught at Korbel since 2005 and this year was promoted to lecturer. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Occidental College, a master’s degree at the University of Colorado and a PhD at the University of California-Los Angles. Her courses are not for the timid — Illicit Markets in Latin America and Political Development in Latin America are two specialties — but students who take them are rewarded, says DU Associate Professor Rachel Epstein.

“She’s an extremely smart person with broad, rigorous training, and it’s entirely appropriate that she won this award,” Epstein says. “She is an excellent communicator.”

Epstein and Holland both teach sections of a course called International Political Economy, but they are very different, Epstein says.

“Mine uses a more traditional syllabus; balance of power issues and so on,” Epstein says. “Hers is more contemporary, with emerging issues such as drug trafficking, economic development, state security. That gives students a choice between two quite different approaches and speaks well to the balance and quality of programs at the Korbel school.”

Professor David Levine describes Holland as “one of our most experienced teachers,” adding that “these are not easy courses to teach.”

Holland was an honorarium professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Denver from 1991–2004, preferring to teach part time while her children were at home. She moved to the Colorado School of Mines as a visiting professor in the McBride Honors Program from 2005–06.

“Frankly, I liked the flexibility of being an adjunct for many years,” Holland says. “It’s true it’s not a lot of money, but I liked being able to shape my schedule and my career interests and not to have to try too hard to fit everything into what a department was doing. I was comfortable with that flexibility.”

Since then, she says of her career, “In the last few years I’ve been able to deepen my commitment.”

Holland learned about her teaching award at the end of the spring quarter.

“I was very touched by this,” Holland says. “The program I’m in is one where a lot of people are recognized, in different ways. They’re very supportive; it’s just amazing.”

Holland’s recent research has been on the topic of human trafficking, and she presented a paper on the topic at the National Association of Human Rights Workers conference in Denver on Sept. 22. She took with her two of her students, Chrissy Hart and Salvador Armendariz.

“The three of us presented our material as part of a larger panel,” Holland says. “It was very satisfying to be able to work with them as part of a team and a real source of pride for me.”

And it’s the work with students that Holland says is the best thing about her job.

“I think students stimulate your work, and your thinking,” Holland says. “They get you excited about what you’re doing, because they ask questions, test your ideas and really motivate you.”

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