Leonard White Receives Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Len White
Full coverage of all Trinity Award winners can be found on the Duke Today Website

Congratulations to Dr. Leonard White, this year's winner of the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching award. This student-selected award honors a Duke professor who has excelled as a teacher, advisor and leader of undergraduate students. The recipient of the award exemplifies each of the following statements:

  • Is original, flexible, and clear in their approach to the classroom;
  • Fosters an environment for learning that promotes intellectual curiosity;
  • Inspires individual achievement and personal growth;
  • Knows and engages students as individuals

White's accomplishments can best be summarized by a number of accolades from current and former Duke students:

"Dr. White goes above and beyond his duties as a lecturer in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. I truly believe he spends as much time preparing for his rigorous class sessions every week as his students, and he possesses a wealth of neuroscientific knowledge that is unmatched by that of anyone else I have ever met."

"Aside from being the best all-around professor I've had at Duke, Dr. White is also the most approachable. He invited our entire class to his house for brunch over the last week of classes, and throughout the semester, he also invited us to come on his weekly Saturday runs in the Duke Forest to get to know him, ask questions about our core curriculum, and deepen our love of neuroscience."

"Functional Neuroanatomy -- Dr. White's brainchild -- was the only undergraduate class I will ever be able to take that will allow me to hold a human brain in my hands. As we worked through our lab exercises every week, Dr. White encouraged us to analyze actual clinical cases that came into Duke Hospital and relate them to the donor brains on the tables before us. If a brain had black marks all over it -- was it a hemorrhagic stroke? An aneursym? If there was a tumor -- did we think it was metastatic or primary? What sorts of cognitive deficits would this tumor or that section of hypertensive blood vessels have caused, and how would they have affected that person's life? Through Functional Neuroanatomy, Dr. White changed the way I think about the brain and about my own humanity -- and it is ultimately to him and his class that I owe my current commitment to pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience after graduating from Duke. He absolutely promotes intellectual curiosity through his own love of the human brain, and his class inspired me to do all I can to delve deeper into learning about the organ that makes us who we are."                         

"Rather than calling assessments 'tests' or 'quizzes,' Dr. White prefers the term 'readiness assurances.' He is the only professor I've had who assesses students not to see how well they've learned the material, but to see how well they can APPLY their knowledge to real-life situations and have fun while doing it. Dr. White values team learning above all else, and the fact that his course is team-based allows every student to come forward with his/her strengths and build off those of their peers. He is of the opinion that no question is too simple or obvious to discuss, and this commitment of his to building his students into the best scholars they can be is something I find quite remarkable."

Dr. White and other recipients of the of the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Awards in Undergraduate Teaching, Leadership, and Diversity will be honored at a reception on Thursday, April 11.

Len White

Photos courtesy of Kathy Neal, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Full coverage of Trinity Award Winners can be found on the Duke Today website: https://today.duke.edu/2019/04/trinity-awards-honor-10-innovative-teaching-advising-leadership