By Christine Shaw
Each year since 2001, just a few teachers earn the title of Ohio University Presidential Teacher, an honor that recognizes excellence in and out of the classroom. This year's recipients are Athens campus faculty members Debra Henderson, an associate professor of sociology, and Scott Titsworth, an associate professor of communication studies, and Pramod Kanwar, an associate professor of mathematics at Ohio University-Zanesville.
Associate professor of mathematics, Zanesville campus
Two extra seats were filled when Pramod Kanwar entered the classroom. Executive Dean for Regional Campuses Dan Evans and Zanesville campus Dean Jim Fonseca had joined the students in Kanwar's geometry class.
"I thought they came to observe my class for some reason," Kanwar said. "I thought to myself, 'I'll just do what I always do.'"
The look of surprise was priceless as Kanwar realized what was happening: Evans and Fonseca were there to announce Kanwar's selection as a 2008 Presidential Teacher.
"Dr. Kanwar is the first-ever regional campus faculty member to receive this prestigious award," Evans told the students, who were excited about their professor's accomplishment.
And while they may wish he would give in and be a bit easier, Kanwar's students appreciate his passion for teaching.
"I mimic the math teaching techniques that he uses -- the ones that frustrate me -- in my field experience, and they really work," Abby Green said. "The things he's taught me about teaching go well beyond my education methods classes."
"When you ask a question, he wants you to answer your own question so you really understand," added Nathan Asire, who has taken seven classes from Kanwar. "He's always in his office, and when he says, 'You know where I live,' he means it," Asire said.
This year's Presidential Teacher Awards selection committee was impressed with Kanwar's enthusiasm in the classroom and the dedication he shows to helping his students learn.
"Dr. Kanwar has a talent for engaging students in the subject material, which becomes more impressive considering that this subject is college-level mathematics," said Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Martin Tuck, whose office coordinates the selection process.
Kanwar attributes his success to his students.
"My driving force is my students," he said. "Their success is my success."
As a researcher in the field of the Theory of Rings and Modules and Algebraic Coding Theory, Kanwar realizes the importance of a strong foundation in the subject area he teaches.
"He always tells us, 'Your foundation should be so strong that no one can shake you,'" said student Joy Borders, who plans to teach high school math after graduation.
For Kanwar, being a good teacher is a way of giving back
"I had a teacher who believed in me," he said, "and I feel it is important to instill that same conviction for learning in my student. I am honored to be recognized for doing what I love."