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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

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David Descutner, dean of University College and a former University Professor, presents the ceremony's welcome address.

Photographer: Colleen Kiphart

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Roger Cooper, director and associate professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies, greets well-wishers before the ceremony.

Photographer: Colleen Kiphart

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Teaching excellence

Four OHIO instructors named 2010-11 University Professors


On May 13, the Center for Teaching and Learning in Alden Library celebrated excellence in teaching with the annual naming of OHIO's University Professors. Four faculty members were given the prestigious honor, which was awarded by the center and selected by the student body.

This year’s honorees were:

•    Stan Alost, assistant director and associate professor in the School of Visual Communication
•    Roger Cooper, director and associate professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies
•    Lynn Harter, the Steven and Barbara Schoonover Professor of Health Communication
•    Jordan Schildcrout, assistant professor of theater

The University Professor Selection Committee is made up of 10-14 undergraduate students who conduct intensive interviews with the nominees about their research interests, educational accomplishments and honors, philosophy of teaching and a discussion of interactions with students in and out of the classroom. As a part of the selection process, committee members also observe the nominees classes.

“It means so much to be named a University Professor because first you are nominated by students who believe you are a meritorious professor and then you participate in a student-led process in which students make the final decision,” said David Descutner, dean of University College and a former University Professor. “That the students who serve on the selection committee are themselves outstanding in the classroom and deeply involved in campus life lends even more credibility to the process.  I've heard dozens of University Professors talk about why the award means so much to them, and …it's the key role of students throughout the process that they cite as most important to them.”
   
Descutner, who was named a University Professor for the 1999-2000 academic year for his instruction in interpersonal communication, offered the welcome address at this year's University Professor Awards Ceremony.

Being named a University Professor is also affirming for faculty members, according to Schildcrout.

 “Teaching is actually a collaborative process, so if I’ve been at all successful as a professor, it’s because the students at OU have worked with me in the classroom, bringing their own intelligence, creativity, and enthusiasm to the educational experience,” he said. “I look forward to teaching the UP courses as a unique opportunity to take that collaboration in exciting new directions.”

Faculty members who are named University Professors are given $2,000 and the freedom to design and teach two courses of their choosing during the next academic year to enrich the curriculum. It offers instructors a chance to let their personalities and research interests shine through.

Copper will be teaching “Humor and Leadership,” an examination of humor in organizations.

“My scholarship focuses on the personality attributes that enhance success in the creative industries,” he said. “I love the fact that my research ties directly into my teaching and that students can see how my work is connected to their futures.  I believe this creates a bond between us.”

Since the program was first established in 1970, more than 200 OHIO faculty members have been named University Professors. All past winners have their names inscribed in the informal “Teaching Hall of Fame” – a bronze plaque outside of the University College offices in Chubb Hall.

But, just as their names are permanently engraved on the plaque, so are the experiences and students engraved on the hearts of the educators, said Harter.

“Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on what it means to live the life of the mind. To live a career of curiosity, to ask and answer questions as part of one’s life calling, is indeed a blessed way of living,” she said. “I get to be a footnote in students’ lives, just as they shape and inform who I continue to become. I am humbled by the recognition of University Professor.”