UC Davis Today: Celebrating teaching excellence

Professor Chris Reynolds expresses his shock and joy at seeing the guitar cake in his honor

Celebrating teaching excellence

UC Davis faculty members understand the value of teaching students and preparing them for success in life.

On Friday (March 8), Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi interrupted music professor Christopher Reynolds’ “History of Rock Music” class to announce that he was the recipient of the 2013 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement.

“He has a gift for connecting with his students by encouraging them to find their own approach to the material discussed in class and inspiring them to think critically about music,” said Katehi, in presenting the award in a surprise announcement to his class. 

In their evaluations, students praise Reynolds’ lectures, his knowledge of music history, and mostly write that he is “awesome.” Wrote one student about the rock history class that has been taught since the 1990s: “Thanks for teaching this class.” 

Colleagues attest to Reynolds’ scholarship and enthusiasm for his subject matter — a vast breadth of music from Renaissance to rock, especially guitarist Jimi Hendrix. The author of two books and numerous award-winning articles, Reynolds has taught on campus since 1985. 

Established in 1986, the prize was created to honor faculty who are both exceptional teachers and scholars. The $45,000 prize is believed to be the largest of its kind in the country and is funded through philanthropic gifts managed by the UC Davis Foundation. The winner is selected based on the nominations of other professors, research peers, representatives from the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees and students. 

Teaching prize winner Chris Reynolds is surprised by the cake shaped in the distinctive curves of the Fender Stratocaster guitar that Jimi Hendrix so famously set on fire and then smashed at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Helping present the cake, dressed in rock 'n' roll attire, is Cynthia Medina, a community and regional development major who works for University Catering, which delivered the cake. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

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