An excellent faculty is foundational to the Austin College experience, and many alumni count current and emeritus faculty among their continuing mentors. Each spring, three faculty members are recognized for teaching excellence at the Austin College Honors Convocation. One receives the College’s Excellence in Teaching Award; the others are put forth as the College’s nominees for external teaching awards. All three are considered Austin College teaching awards and include stipends.
Professor of French,
Margaret Root Brown Chair of Foreign Languages and Literatures,
Director of the Robert and Joyce Johnson Center for Faculty
Development and Excellence in Teaching
Austin College Excellence in Teaching and Campus Leadership Award
At Austin College since 1980
“Tomes have been written about teaching and the what, how, and why of it. All have interesting and informative ideas about what faculty members do—to which I can add nothing new.
But, I love to teach, and I like my students—all of them. Sometimes my classes work well; sometimes they don’t. One of the realities of this profession is that terms end and begin again, and that closure brings both sadness and hope. Eternal optimist that I am, at the end of every term, I find myself echoing Upton Sinclair’s Jurgis Rudkus, declaring that next time, ‘I will work harder’ and always hoping that I will do a better job.”
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Nominee, CASE Professor of the Year (November 2013 announcement)
At Austin College since 1987
“As an educator today, I love helping students discover and satisfy their curiosity about math and computer science and the world around us. I love to inspire them to regard our discipline with excitement and wonder, over and over again.
I’m especially passionate about being agile in the classroom, about customizing the learning experience to my current students, and about giving them courage to engage the learning process without fear. I want the classroom to be a crucible, a safe but very challenging place of learning in which real transformation occurs. At Austin College I am blessed to teach and learn from many excellent students in a mutually mentoring environment. As a teacher, I love to learn. My students constantly challenge me to be a knowledge scout.’ They rely on me to help them navigate their learning adventure, a role I cherish very much.”
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Nominee, Minnie Stevens Piper Professorship
(spring 2014 announcement)
At Austin College since 2003
“A graduate school advisor once told me that teaching is like being a midwife. It was not until I experienced teaching and research for many years that I realized the value of these words and the impact they have had on my own hybrid pedagogical approach.
My teaching reflects diverse cultural encounters in Asia, painstaking independent and collaborative research, and valuable co-teaching experiences with colleagues. Although primarily trained as a historian of Buddhist and Hindu traditions and in the anthropology of religion, I have learned through co-teaching with colleagues and teaching a wide range of students that ‘interdisciplinarity’—and not just specific disciplines—is what informs learning today in the liberal arts. For me, teaching is about relationships between actively engaged agents and not a hierarchical framework based on outmoded medieval models. It is about encouraging independent thinking and inspiring appreciation for diversity. It is about the intentionality of teaching and research.
Teaching is also about being flexible and facing challenges regarding the latest tools in order to engage new breeds of students and new modes of learning.”