Lydia Hamessley and Robert Knight

Hamilton College’s highest awards for teaching were presented to three faculty members during the annual Class & Charter Day ceremony on May 13.  Professor of Music Lydia Hamessley was awarded the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching; Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Abhishek Amar was honored with the John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award; and Rob Knight, assistant professor of art, received the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award. Assistant Professor of Government Ted Lehmann was named the recipient of Student Assembly’s Sidney Wertimer Award.

Lydia Hamessley, the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Hamessley is the 13th recipient of the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which is given annually to a senior, tenured faculty member. It is presented on the basis of superior teaching and for having a significant and positive impact on students. The fund was established by Helen Lang, the mother of Michael C. Lang, class of 1967.

Hamessley received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota before coming to Hamilton in 1991. She teaches courses in Medieval and Renaissance music history, world music, American folk and traditional music, opera and film music. She received the Class of 1962 Outstanding Teaching Award in 2007 and was twice awarded the Class of 1963 Faculty Fellowship to support the development of additional areas of teaching expertise.

With her award in 2010, Hamessley developed the syllabus for Music 245, Music in American Film, which first became available to Hamilton students during the spring 2012 semester. After teaching the course Hamessley realized its broad potential reach; in January the class became Hamilton’s first to go online.

Her current area of research is in old-time and bluegrass music, with a particular focus on Southern Appalachian music and women. Hamessley has published articles in Music & Letters; Queering The Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology; Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture; and 19th-Century Music, among others. She is the co-editor, with Elaine Barkin, of Audible Traces: Gender, Identity, and Music. Hamessley is also a clawhammer banjo player.

In October she presented a talk titled “‘Music on Which the Story Might Ride’: Music in Paul Green’s The Lost Colony (1937)” at the international symposium, Roanoke Conundrum – Fact & Fiction.

In nominating Hamessley for the award a student wrote, “I have worked with Professor Hamessley every semester of my eight spent here at Hamilton, and l can honestly say she has changed my life for the better more than anyone else on this carnpus.  Her work ethic is inspiring, her deep dedication to so many branches of music is impressive, and she is quite obviously enthusiastic about the material in every class she teaches.”  

Abhishek Amar, The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award

The John R. Hatch Class of 1925 Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1998 by Alfrederic S. Hatch, a 1958 Hamilton graduate, in memory of his father, who graduated from Hamilton in 1925. It supports an annual prize for a tenure-track faculty member who has been employed by the college for fewer than five years, and who has demonstrated superior teaching, high-quality scholarly research and significant and positive impact on students.

Abhishek S. Amar specializes in the history of early India and his research interests include archaeological history of Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions in early India. He recently completed his post-doctoral research at IKGF at Ruhr University, Bochum, where he studied inter-religious dynamics between Buddhist and Hindu traditions in the early medieval South Bihar region, the region of South Asia that was the cradle of Buddhism. He completed his Ph.D. from the SOAS, University of London, and his doctoral research focused on the history of Buddhism at Bodhgaya, the site of enlightenment of the Buddha. Amar completed his M. Phil (2002) and M.A (1999) in South Asian history from JNU, New Delhi, India.

In the past year Amar co-edited Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Buddhist Site: Bodh Gaya Jataka, a volume in the Routledge Press South Asian Religion Series. He presented a paper at a workshop titled “Local Domains/Translocal Claims: New Histories of the ‘Local’ in South Asia” organized by the South Asia Studies department, University of Pennsylvania; and participated on the panel, "Excavating Layers of Sacred Landscape" at the AAR Conference in Chicago in November. Amar also presented at an invited lecture at Deccan College Post Graduate Research Institute in Pune, India in July and at Hyderabad Central University in India.

A student nominator wrote, “Professor Amar … is one  of the most knowledgeable, helpful, and considerate teachers that l have ever had the pleasure of learning from, but he is so much more than that, going above and beyond any institutional expectations to ensure that his students learn and comprehend the subject that he teaches. Class time is only half the learning experience from Professor Amar. “

Robert Knight, The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award

The Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1988 by members of the class on the occasion of their 25th reunion to recognize one Hamilton faculty member each year who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to and skill in teaching.

Robert Knight received an M.F.A. in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and a bachelor’s degree in architecture and economics from Yale University.  He previously taught at the Mass College of Art, Emerson College and MIT. Knight utilizes photography, audio, video and installation to explore his research on the relationship of contemporary culture to the domestic. Knight is represented by Gallery Kayafas, Boston, and his work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and numerous private collections.

His work has also been exhibited in the Boston area Alpha Gallery, The Bernard Toale Gallery, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Photographic Resource Center and MPG Contemporary, as well as nationally at Jen Bekman Gallery in New York, and the Houston Center for Photography. 

Knight is currently working on The Class of 2015 series, a longitudinal portrait project utilizing photography and video to examine identity development in 39 members of Hamilton’s Class of 2015.  An image from the series was included in the LaGrange National XXVII at the LaGrange Museum of Art in LaGrange, Ga.

Knight’s photography project Sleepless was featured March 23, 2012, on Wired.com in an article titled “Restless Nights Inspire Artist’s Spectral Photos.”

A student who nominated Knight for the award wrote, “l believe Professor Knight has truly excelled in enriching the academic experiences of his students and deserves recognition for such exemplary teaching so early in his Hamilton career.  In class, Professor Knight demonstrates an incredible knowledge and contagious enthusiasm for the photographic process.”

Timothy (Ted) Lehmann, The Sidney Wertimer Award

Ted Lehmann received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University and specializes in international relations, particularly international political economy, security studies and American foreign policy. He published “Keeping Friends Close and Enemies Closer: Classical Realist Statecraft and Economic Exchange in U.S. Interwar Strategy,” in Security Studies in 2009. His article “It Takes a Quaker to Destroy the Global Village:  Herbert Hoover, the Manchurian Incident and the League of Nations,” explains the demise of democratic internationalism in the early 1930s by focusing on Herbert Hoover’s statecraft as it explores the inadequate explanations of leading liberal and constructivist theorists.  It is forthcoming at Global War Studies. 

His first book manuscript, Slippery Perch: Oil and the Asian Origins of American Hegemony, explains the origins of American hegemony and details the centrality of the Pacific theater to the global war that still defines international order.  Lehmann is also the lead editor for a forthcoming (2014) volume on global energy politics for Lynne Rienner press, Scarcity or Plenty? International Political Economy of Global Natural Resources.

Hamilton’s Student Assembly initiated the Wertimer Award in 2005 in memory of the late Sidney Wertimer, professor of economics emeritus, who died in February, 2005. The award recognizes a faculty member “who is recognized as a mentor and active participant within the Hamilton community.”

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