"In my time here at Barnard, I have had one to two courses per semester that have had a required discussion section component. Of these discussion sections, Westenley’s has been the most memorable, informative, challenging and helpful. The environment he cultivated in the classroom was one that helped to inform the type of scholar that I am today and want to work towards becoming. Even as I shifted in my academic focus from American to South Asian studies, the skills acquired in Westenley’s discussion section remained incredibly relevant and impactful."

Alycia Gideon
Anthropology, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Barnard College
Class of 2016

"The Civil War holds dangerous potential to bore students with stale facts and theories, but during every discussion section, Westenley dispensed with preconceived answers and thoughts on the Civil War and Reconstruction. He instead tactfully forced each student to think on her feet to produce original material and connect lectures, readings, and assignments.

Always thoughtful and sincere, Westenley’s teaching style often challenged prevailing historical narratives as he called on students to determine alternative ones – the perspective of the African-American freedwomen, of residents of certain cities, etc. Westenley attentively ensured that each student gave voice to her thoughts during the group discussions, and frequently organized peer-editing workshops to hone writing and research skills as well as build intellectual connections with peers."

Mary Margaret Meehan
October 5, 2015

"...it was clear that Westenley understood how to be an effective teacher. Instead of just leading discussions, he pushed us to really understand the material. For example, instead of just discussing the social groups in Saint Domingue in the 1700s, Westenley split the class into four groups: Grand Blancs, Petit Blancs, Gens de Couleur/Affranchi or Slaves/Maroons. Each group presented their interests at the time as it pertained to disaffiliating from colonial powers. This level of creativity definitely made Westenley’s discussion section memorable."

"Not only did Westenley inform me about the program, but he also helped me develop my research proposal, provided feedback on a rough draft of my application and made sure I met all the application requirements. I truly believe that anyone willing to go to that length for a student will be an exceptional resource to any body of faculty that they join. I credit my passion and appreciation for academic research to Westenley. Westenley would be a great asset to any institution and I reiterate my strong recommendation."

Sivan M. Bruce
Columbia University
October 8, 2015