John Stenzel

2005 Award for Excellence in Teaching

After receiving his B.A. from Pomona College and an M.Phil. in Renaissance English Literature from Oxford University, John Stenzel earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 1990; he has taught English for over twenty years.

Though now primarily teaching technical and legal writing, Dr. Stenzel has taught nearly all the UCD writing courses, from Scientific Writing to Writing in Education, and specialized sections of adjunct writing for courses ranging from Environmental Law and Intro to Computers, to European History and Cognitive Neuroscience. Outside of the Writing Program his teaching ranges from Shakespeare to the English Literature survey to History of the English Language. He also developed a successful version of American Studies 151, American Landscapes and Places, focusing on Yosemite, and last Fall took on a very large general education course, Children’s Literature. He attacks each of these challenges with intensity, setting high standards for himself to master the material, and expecting equally high critical-thinking standards for students both in class and in their writing.

Dr. Stenzel’s interest in applying writing skills across the curriculum has been apparent since graduate school, as has his quest to enrich teaching with appropriate technology. His early attempts led to a published study of whether word processing actually helped students improve their writing; these experiences helped convince him that environment affects the writing process, and that minicomputer terminal facilities were decidedly hostile learning places. The university designed its first dedicated Macintosh classroom soon afterward, thanks in part to Dr. Stenzel’s vision; he rewrote the "Computer Classroom Instructor's Guide," and he continues to promote effective ways of marrying computers and good teaching, informally and at Summer Institutes on Technology and Teaching.

As a longtime presenter in the workshop program, Dr. Stenzel has guest-lectured and consulted on writing, assignment design, and effective paper-marking, addressing undergraduate classes, groups of TA's, and other faculty members. Sometimes as an overload, Dr. Stenzel has taught "Demystifying the Dissertation" and "Grammar for Graduates" classes. Colleagues note that his teaching does not stop in the classroom: besides incorporating e-mail draft consultations into all of his classes, he sees students individually and in groups that sometimes spill out into the hallway.

Currently mentoring new instructors as an Assistant Director of the UWP, Dr. Stenzel is also active in campus governance through the Academic Federation. He commutes by train from Berkeley, where he lives with his wife, Amelie, and their 6-year-old son, Alex; he and Amelie sing in the Pacific Mozart Ensemble in their spare time.