Rebecca Tucker, associate professor of art at Colorado College, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Ray O. Werner Award for Exemplary Teaching in the Liberal Arts.
Tucker earns the respect of students and colleagues for her impressive scholarship, her infectious enthusiasm for teaching, and her patience and ability to challenge students. Her engaging approach to teaching distinguishes Tucker as an exemplary professor, and her efforts are central to sustaining a rich and innovating intellectual climate at Colorado College.
In the years following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College in 1988, Tucker pursued a M.A. in the history of art from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, beginning what has proven to be a highly productive scholarly career. She concluded her education by receiving a Ph.D. in art history, also from NYU, and quickly pursued teaching.
Tucker was an instructor at both Skidmore College and the University of Denver before ultimately joining the Colorado College art department as an assistant professor in 2006.
Within art history, Tucker specializes in Renaissance and Baroque art of Northern Europe. Tucker has excelled as a professor who provides a stimulating academic environment for students. Students praise Tucker’s deep knowledge of art and her passion for the subject, which permeate each lecture. In an effort to enliven her classes, Tucker emphasizes student collaboration and discussion. Integrating new technology, group learning, and problem-based methods in her lessons are only a few examples of the ways in which Tucker continually engages students. Described as a “consistently innovative” professor, she experiments with fresh approaches and types of projects that students find instructional, challenging, and enjoyable. For Tucker’s students, research assignments have been known to range from straightforward essays, to art exhibition construction and explanations, to writing theses or mock textbook chapters.
As an advisor, Tucker devotes ample time to developing students’ interests in art, their academic work, and their lives. Students enthusiastically respond as she makes herself an easily accessible resource.
Though Tucker sees teaching as the core of her career, her personal scholarship is notable. She has produced valuable research in art history and has filled a void in her field by primarily focusing on courtly environments of the 17th century in Northern Europe. She often explores the “whys” of art history by examining the commissioning and ownership of art, and how it is displayed and arranged, to reveal social and ideological agendas. As her CV indicates, she has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews, and a book titled “Secrets and Symbols: Decoding the Great Masters.” Tucker recently completed a sabbatical, which she spent largely in Amsterdam conducting research to revise and polish a book manuscript on courtly patronage of Dutch art that is currently under consideration at Penn State Press.
Tucker also has been a powerful force in a variety of programs at the college. Her work on the Cornerstone Arts Committee, and in particular, on the IDEA Space, draws uniform praise. Since 2006, she has had ongoing involvement with the Children’s Center Committee, and currently sits on the Center’s Building Committee. She also has been instrumental to the art department, facilitating its use of technology and developing new courses. Tucker is both dependable and thorough in her departmental service, and as a result, colleagues often want to collaborate with her on reports, committees, and teaching courses.
In the words of the former art department chair, “Tucker’s excellence as a teacher and scholar, as well as her initiative, competence, and community spirit are exemplary.” She is a professor who strives to maintain the type of learning environment to which Professor Werner was committed. Her talents echo Professor Werner’s ability to inspire students, collaborate with colleagues, continue research, and maintain an involved presence in the wider community.
Tucker is the third recipient of the award, joining Associate Political Science Professor John Gould, and Associate Biology Professor Brian Linkhart. The award is named after Ray O. Werner, an economics professor from 1948 to 1987 who lived his conviction that teaching in the liberal arts should focus on the whole person, and that a liberal arts education should yield a refined, broadly educated human being. Tucker was selected because she vividly exemplifies the art of teaching.