Just over a month ago – October 22nd to be exact – I officially received the UGFA’s Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching in the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences.
This award means an incredible amount to me – more than I can actually put into words. Regardless, I tried to draft something the evening of, but hadn’t had a chance to post it until now. The following includes words that were written following the award ceremony, and some extra thoughts I’ve added since then.
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for being part of the UGFA teaching award nomination, and the reception. It really meant a lot to see the support.
After the ceremony I sat in my office thinking about the eve, and how I’ve found myself in my current position. I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have had the fortune to have had so many amazing teachers and professors at some point in my academic career. I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Pal Fischer, Jack Weiner, Herb Kunze, Gerarda Darlington, Joe Cunsolo, Hosh Pesotan, and more. I’ve been fortunate to have had these people provide examples of what excellent teaching is, both in and out of the classroom. They have led through example, and have mentored me throughout the years, and truly – I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am without their influence.
I have such amazing role models. These people have provided me with so much more than a degree. They’ve taught me what an excellent professor should and can be. They’ve taught me how important teaching is, and they have given me countless examples of how to be a good teacher. More than that, they’ve taught me how to be a better version of myself. This award wouldn’t have been possible if not for their support, their guidance, their passion for teaching, and their incredible example. It makes me smile that I’ve spent my entire university career (both as a student and now as faculty) surrounded by so many amazing examples of teaching excellence.
I’m also extremely fortunate that I get to work with so many amazing students. To those of you who took time out of your schedules to nominate me and write the things you wrote – thank you. The night of the ceremony was the first time I’d heard some of the things that were written, and it was a challenge to not turn into a giant weepy mess. The past five years in the School of Computer Science have been like nothing I could have ever imagined. You’ve made my time here an epic adventure, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. You inspire me daily. My success is the result of your efforts – in the class and out.
Thank you to everyone who helped get me to where I am today.