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