Rock Star UC Davis Professor Wins Teaching Prize

Chris ReynoldsProf. Chris Reynolds, a rock star of a professor who teaches music classes ranging from rock and roll to the Renaissance, just won the prestigious 2013 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement and the $45,000 check that goes with it. Wow, congratulations Dr. Reynolds!

UC Davis News & Information said in part about this Princeton-trained musicologist:

Peek inside the office of Christopher Reynolds, UC Davis professor, musicologist, choral singer and son of a choir conductor, and a visitor sees the expected — rows and rows of books, stacks of sheet music and a sketch of Beethoven on the wall.

But take a few more steps inside and you bump into a life-size cardboard cutout of Elvis clad in a shimmering gold suit, a gift from a co-worker. To talk to Reynolds for a few minutes is to learn his favorite musician of all time is the late, great guitarist Jimi Hendrix, with the band Led Zeppelin coming in a close second. “I could do a whole quarter on Zeppelin,” said the professor, who has taught at the University of California, Davis, since 1985.

In fact, he plans to teach “a whole quarter” next year on a different British import — the Beatles.

His teaching abilities, punctuated with enthusiasm for all his subject matter — a vast breadth of music from Renaissance to rock — were recognized today when UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi interrupted Reynolds’ “History of Rock Music” class to announce that he is the recipient of the 2013 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement.

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.

With the professor’s students, family members and UC Davis officials looking on, Katehi surprised him with a cake shaped in the distinctive curves of the Fender Stratocaster guitar that Hendrix so famously set on fire and then smashed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. For today’s purposes, the flames were edible.