Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Jaime Dávila Recognized with College Outstanding Teaching Award

Headshot of Jaime Dávila

Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences Senior Teaching Faculty Jaime Dávila received the 2024 College Outstanding Teaching Award (COTA), which recognizes excellence in teaching by honoring individual faculty members at each of the university’s colleges for their instructional accomplishments.

The COTA program is administered jointly by the Center for Teaching and Learning and the individual colleges. Awards are presented annually during the spring semester; each award consists of a $1,000 prize and a commemorative plaque. Candidates for the 2024 award were selected based on faculty nominations and student feedback.

“Jaime deserves this award for his teaching effectiveness, creativity, and approachability, which were demonstrated by numerous glowing comments from students across multiple courses and years. Additionally, Jaime has taken on a leading role in the creation of new introductory courses,” said the awards committee. “Put simply, Jaime has made a huge contribution to our undergraduate teaching mission, and he goes above and beyond in mentoring students both in and outside of the classroom.”

When nominating Dávila, Senior Teaching Faculty Marius Minea said, “I've been fortunate to teach COMPSCI 220 Programming Methodology alongside Professor Dávila. He designs the presentation of the material to make the essence accessible, using relevant examples from practice and often anecdotes from personal experience to make the content approachable and engaging. Professor Dávila is constantly preoccupied with improving teaching, both his own and that in the college overall.” 

One of Dávila’s students noted, “Professor Dávila is patient, careful, and easy to follow. As an international student, I can catch every point he's trying to explain. He teaches concepts in detail and clearly and gave me a great foundation in data science.” 

Another said, “Every one of the classes I’ve taken with [Professor Dávila] has been clear, organized, and has made me a better computer scientist.”

“I’m honored by the award, especially working around so many great educators,” says Dávila. “The award will prompt me to continue giving my very best effort every day towards students’ learning. Prompted by the comments students offered, I wonder which students I might not be reaching in the same way just yet, and how I can do so. I'm also thoughtful about the role I have among colleagues in terms of organizing the educational work we do as a college.”

“There aren’t tons of Puerto Ricans in computer science in the United States, but I’m one. We’re here, and we’re making important, positive contributions. That brings a smile to my face.” Dávila reflects. “The same goes for many other underrepresented identities—it’s important to see that all those identities are here in our discipline.”

Dávila completed his Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez in 1988. After working as an engineer for three years, he came to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in 1991 and obtained a Ph.D. in computer science from the City University of New York in 1999. He was a faculty member at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, from 1999-2019, when he started working at CICS. Dávila’s main research interest is in neural networks for human-like tasks. He is currently using neural networks and deep learning to study human morpho-semantic processing theories.

For more information about the award and a list of previous recipients, see https://www.umass.edu/ctl/grants-awards/college-outstanding-teaching-award-cota