Professors of the Year' Are From Hamilton, San Mateo, Central Arkansas, and Tulsa

Article (2)

from Chronicle of Higher Education

By Joshua Rolnick


Four Academics have been named this year's Professors of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and for the first time, all of the winners are female or minority scholars.

The annual awards, which include $5,000 for each recipient, have been made since 1981. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education created the program and heads the selection process.

This year's winners are the most diverse group ever, said Steven C. Weiss, a spokesman for CASE.

The foundation and the council honor outstanding teaching in four types of institutions. Among baccalaureate colleges, the honoree is Hong Gang Jin, a professor of Chinese at Hamilton College. In community colleges, Cathleen Kennedy, a professor of computer and information science at the College of San Mateo, was chosen. In master's institutions, the winner is Gayle Seymour, a professor of art at the University of Central Arkansas. In research universities, the award goes to Sujeet Shenoi, a professor of computer science at the University of Tulsa.

The foundation named the winners last week, along with a runner-up in each of 47 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. (The top candidates in Alaska, North Dakota and Rhode Island did not meet the minimum possible score to qualify as state winners.)

The national awards program is the only one of its kind to honor college professors for their teaching, said Mr. Weiss. More than 25 higher-education associations also provide financial and promotional support, he said.

The judges rated nominees on the basis of their impact on, and involvement with, undergraduates; their scholarly approach to teaching; their service to their campus and local community; and testimonials from colleagues and students. Carnegie then assembled a panel of representatives from the four categories of institutions, which chose the winners.

Ms. Jin helped to establish a study consortium that she directs, Associated Colleges in China, which accepts 35 to 40 students each year from 20 colleges and universities in the United States to study in Beijing. She has published four books and several articles on teaching Chinese.

"I believe my mission is to really teach my students to view the world in a different way, through a foreign language," Ms. Jin said.

Ms. Kennedy developed a computer laboratory at San Mateo that gives students experience with new hardware and software. "What I'm really happy about is that the profession of teaching is being recognized," she said.

In 1996, Ms Seymour and her students won a grant to do research on outdoor sculpture in Washington. More recently, students in her senior seminar helped 400 ninth-graders create a 15-by-45 foot mural at a local high school.

"I feel very overwhelmed," Ms. Seymour said of the award. "Imagine getting recognition for something that you love to do."

Mr. Shenoi designed the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge, which offers students at the university firsthand research opportunities, special courses, and one-on-one attention. In national scholarship competitions, the program has produced 12 winners of the Goldwater Scholarship in undergraduate science, and one Marshall Scholar, the first for an Oklahoma university in 27 years.

"Oklahoma needed more role models, and I wanted to create home-grown ones," said Mr. Shenoi. He called the award "a tremendous honor. I'll have to work extra hard the rest of my life to deserve it."