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KNOXVILLE — Michael Handelsman, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor of Spanish, Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and director of the university’s Latin American Studies program, has received the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association’s (TFLTA) 2011 Jacqueline Elliott Award for teaching and service in higher education.

Handelsman earned a bachelor’s degree at Gettysburg (Pa.) College and a doctoral degree at the University of Florida and has been on the UT Knoxville faculty for 34 years. A holder of multiple Fulbright faculty scholarships and an award-winning author of nine books and numerous scholarly articles, he has earned distinctions that include the Alexander and Jefferson prizes from UT Knoxville and the Quito Medal of Honor for his leadership in the study of Ecuadorian literature.

Erec Koch, head of the Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures department, said that “in addition to his exemplary accomplishments in research and service, Michael is and has always been one of the most popular and effective teachers in our department, with the highest ratings in student and peer evaluations.”

Koch added that Handelsman has incorporated a large amount of service learning into his coursework. “He does this as an overload and treats oversight of each student — he averages eight per semester — as an individualized tutorial,” Koch said. “These students learn under Dr. Handelsman’s care while they actively engage in helping members of our local Spanish-speaking community.”

The TFLTA award citation notes the enthusiastic appreciation of Handelsman’s students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels: “While he has earned a reputation as a very tough grader, all praise him for combining the highest standards with genuine respect and concern for every student whom he teaches. Without question, Michael Handelsman exemplifies the talent, effectiveness and deep care for students that the association seeks to honor with this award.”


Charles Primm (865-974-5180, charles.primm@tennessee.edu)