Laura Kalin Receives President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching

May 29, 2024
Princeton University faculty members received President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Commencement. From left in photo: Laura Kalin, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber, Seth A. Perry and Clancy W. Rowley. Gary Bass is this year’s fourth recipient of the award. Photo: Matt Raspanti

Laura Kalin (Linguistics; Humanities Council) is among four Princeton University faculty members who received President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Commencement ceremonies Tuesday, May 28.

The awards, established in 1990 through a gift by Princeton alumni Lloyd Cotsen of the Class of 1950 and John Sherrerd of the Class of 1952, recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching by Princeton faculty members.

A committee of faculty, academic administrators, undergraduates and graduate students selected the winners from nominations by students, faculty colleagues and alumni.

Kalin is an associate professor of linguistics in the Humanities Council. She has taught at Princeton since 2016. Her research focuses on “the syntax and morphology of understudied and often endangered languages.”

Described by one student as “the most dedicated professor I’ve had at Princeton,” Kalin is known for her passion for her field, her inspiring energy, and her commitment to her students and advisees. 

“What truly sets Professor Kalin apart from the rest is her unparalleled enthusiasm. No matter whether explaining the topic of the day, or exploring an impromptu tangent uncovered by a student’s question, she approached every problem with a vibrant energy that was nothing short of infectious,” one alumnus said. 

A creative instructor, she redesigned the lecture course “Linguistic Universals and Language Diversity” so that each student studied a single endangered language of their choice. Students said the project showed the real-world applications of linguistics research and gave their work greater purpose. “I took this class mainly for its linguistics designation and then discovered how truly awesome it was,” one student said. 

Kalin is also appreciated for her ability to distill the most complex subjects in an engaging and understandable way.

Said an alumnus: “I vividly remember Professor Kalin’s morphology course. Though it covered a notoriously prickly and theoretical subject, Professor Kalin’s class breathed fresh air into what could have been a technical, stuffy course. In my four years at Princeton, I never had a teacher come close to Professor Kalin.” 

Read the full story on the University homepage.

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