Campus News

Prof. Olds Wins National Recognition for Teaching

Story posted February 15, 1999

Feb. 18, 1999, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- On Wednesday, Feb. 10, Clifton C. Olds, Bowdoin's Edith Cleaves Barry Professor of the History and Criticism of Art, was honored at the College Art Association's 87th Annual Convention in Los Angeles with the "Award for Distinguished Teaching of Art History."

The national award, open to all college and university art history professors in the United States, is given annually based on recommendations from students and colleagues. Olds' nomination was accompanied by 103 letters from students and colleagues at Bowdoin College and the University of Michigan, where Olds taught for 18 years. In these letters, his students described his lectures as "spellbinding," "mesmerizing" and "magical."

Olds was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth College, and received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. He joined the faculty at Michigan in 1964; six years later, the University recognized him with its highest accolade, the Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Olds, who came to Bowdoin in 1982, specializes in Medieval and Renaissance art, and introduced courses on East Asian Art at the College.

The committee that presented the award on Wednesday said Olds' "passion for art history and commitment to excellence has not only benefited his many students, but our profession as well."

A former student, who now teaches art history, wrote to the committee that: "To this day, when on that rare occasion I finish what I think was a really good lecture, I compare it to my recollections of Clif's daily output. It is always a humbling experience, but it also is a comparison that reminds me what a truly important responsibility it is to be a good teacher. That more than anything is what I learned from Clif Olds."

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