News from the School of Continuing & Professional Studies

Charlotte Matthews Wins Teaching Award

newsletter article

Charlotte Matthews Wins Teaching Award

A tireless advocate for the written word, Matthews sees herself as an inspirer to help BIS students write.

Adelle F. Robertson was both a groundbreaker and an innovator. When she was appointed in 1976, she was the first woman to lead what was then known as the Division of Continuing Education. During her tenure, she launched the Summer on the Lawn program, the Center for the Liberal Arts and the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program.
This year, the School bestowed its Adelle F. Robertson Award on another innovator: long-time BIS Associate Professor Charlotte Matthews. The Robertson Award, funded by Robertson’s heirs, honors faculty members who have followed in her footsteps, demonstrating sustained excellence in providing new knowledge, instruction, or public service through the School to the people, organizations, and institutions served by the University.
A widely published poet, Matthews is a tireless advocate for the written word, teaching writing classes and directing the SCPS Writing Center.  In encouraging writing, she sees herself as an inspirer. “It’s my job to inspire students to formulate better questions, take time to think, brave the world of inner thoughts, and write,” she says.
Her students have benefited from her instruction and encouragement.  “Charlotte has been extremely helpful in providing feedback that is genuinely constructive,” says Erin Gibson, who has taken two courses with Matthews.  “What sets Charlotte apart is her ability to deliver her comments with sensitivity and in a manner that results in an inspiration to do better.”
Matthews’ constructive approach is evident in the required first-term course she teaches and helped develop for the BIS program, Transformation: Reading, Thinking, and Communicating in the Liberal Arts. Her colleague, Assistant Professor Julie May, notes that “Charlotte is a consummate professional and master of her craft.  She is clear and concise, commands attention from her students, and works hard to build community.”
Matthews extends this sense of community outside the classroom.  She holds a weekly Sunday Salon for her students and has revived the school’s literary journal, The Mosaic. She also offers free writing workshops for women with breast cancer, online and through UVA’s Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center.  In all her work, she tries to convey to students the credo of one of her favorite poets, Stanley Kunitz:  “Writing is the guardian of human dignity and significance.”