Virginia Tech Honors and Awards

University Awards

2000 Wine Award

Andrew S. Becker


Andrew S. Becker

Andrew S. Becker, associate professor of Latin, Greek, and Classical Studies in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, has received the William E. Wine Award for "a history of university teaching excellence."

The $2,000 award is given in memory of W. E. Wine, an alumnus and former rector of the Board of Visitors.

Becker joined the department in 1988. He has won three Certificates of Teaching Excellence and has been active in Honors, Residential Leadership, and Tech’s Center for European Studies and Architecture in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. "His students praise his demanding humanity, love of languages and literature, infectious passion, ability to draw on his extensive knowledge of other cultures, and his insistence on both accurate understanding and imaginative engagement," according to the award citation.

Becker’s scholarship includes a book on Homer’s Iliad and numerous articles on ancient Greek and Latin language and literature, including Plato, ancient rhetoricians, and Vergil. He has twice been a finalist for the American Philological Association’s National Award for Excellence in Teaching.

His teaching has influence well beyond Blacksburg as he has presented seminars for professors and secondary school teachers and his service as a faculty member and director of the Virginia Department of Education’s intensive Governor’s Latin Academy each summer.

Becker sees the teaching of Latin and Greek texts as a twofold process. "We try to recover, to see things as they would have seen them, as much as possible," he wrote. "But we also try to renovate, to make it new, to make what we study part of the way we understand the world (equipment for living). This last step keeps the languages and literature from becoming old curiosities, allowing them to resonate and join our daily conversations."

In fact, wrote Judith Shrum, department head, of Becker’s early career, "…I began to see little clumps of students hanging around his office in late afternoons, reading and translating Latin or Greek….Dr. Becker had turned to Latin literature to transcend the limits of the daily circumstances of his students." Becker, she said, showed "a transparency of person and a transcendence of thought that elevated the students beyond themselves and their 20th century environments to an earlier time, showing them how it can yet affect their lives."