Class of 2006

(L-R front row): Charles Atwood, David Knauft, Karen Cornell, Juanita Johnson-Bailey.

(back row): John Dayton, Edward Halper, David Shipley, Karl Espelie, Jack Fincham, Caliborne Glover, Doug Toma, Chi Thai and Rodney Mauricio. Not pictured: Jolene David and Helen Epps.

Charles H.  Atwood, Chemistry

Philosophically, I am interested in understanding what makes learning chemistry difficult and how to best assist students in improving their performance.  I prefer to do this based upon strong statistical evidence and psychological understanding of student learning.  While we are still early in our learning curve, it is clear that we are making significant inroads into understanding student performance in large classroom settings.

Karen K. Cornell, Veterinary Medicine

My teaching philosophy is not complicated or profound.  I feel strongly that students learn best by understanding a concept not memorizing a fact.  As a teaching academician in veterinary medicine, I strive to have a lasting, positive impact on veterinary students.  I want to be the voice inside their heads that encourages logical thinking and calm confidence when, after graduation, they perform a complicated surgical procedure for the first time.

Jolene R. Davis, Music

During my 25 years of teaching, I have tried to emulate those great teachers who inspired me during my school years.  I have been trying to discover how to move my children to a deeper understanding of the subject of music theory.  Much of my “planning” time is spent visualizing the class and imagining new and creative ways of explaining difficult concepts. . .  Most of all, enjoy the teaching experience.  If I love what I do in class, then most of the students will understand the importance of the subject.  Some will also come to love it.


John P. Dayton, Education

A professor cannot simply assume that students will automatically share their love for the academic subject, or assume that the student will understand the importance of learning this knowledge.  In an increasing hectic world, many things compete for our students’ time, attention and energy.  Under these circumstances, it is essential that professors effectively explain to the students the significance of the subject they will be studying, and clearly demonstrate to students why learning this knowledge is worthy of investing their time, attention and best efforts.

Helen H. Epps, Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors

I intentionally ask lots of questions in my classes.  Some of my questions are very serious, some are very light and easily answered and  some are very difficult . . . If students have no unanswered questions at the end of a class period, or at the end of the semester, or at the end of their college career, I will have failed to teach – failed both the student-learner, and myself, the teacher-learner.  Regrettably, I frequently fail.  But when I succeed in stimulating a thoughtful question or two, or on those rare occasions, when every answer stimulates multiple questions, I am confident that learning occurs

Karl E. Espelie, Entomology

One of my main goals in the classroom is to be able to treat each student as an  individual.  In a large classroom this is often a difficult task.  At a large university, it is also difficult for a student to feel that they have the ability to succeed.  I like to help students adapt to life at a large university. I serve as the academic advisor for a large number of students with a diversity of majors and a wide range of career goals.  I always ask my advisees about their opinion of the courses that they take . . I make a point of asking my older advisees to provide advice to younger students.

Jack E. Fincham, Pharmacy

In the rush of days, weeks, and years as an academic with attendant pressure and stress to excel as a scholar with overlapping faculty roles, it is so very easy for many of us to forget why we entered academia.  Many of us are here because we wanted to teach, research, and share knowledge others.  Often, the rewards for much of what we do daily may seem scant.  However, our ability to influence students at an eager, formative stage is an awesome challenge with equally enriching rewards in scope and outcome.

Claiborne Van C. Glover, Biochemistry

At its core, teaching is a formal extension of raising children. . . Whenever one is choosing what to teach the next generation, particularly when it touches on moral, political, or religious issues, there is always danger.  My rule is this: if you would be a teacher, ask yourself, “Is it my ambition that my students should learn to think like me or that they should learn to think for themselves?”  This is the crucial test, and it is harder than it may sound if you have any convictions at all, but it is the most important thing.  It boils down to faith in the human mind and in the human heart, that given an environment of open inquiry and free expression, that our students – that our children – will chose wisely.

Edward C. Halper, Philosophy

Learning is a transformation that does not become apparent to the learner until after it has been made.  There are many reasons that students come to the University.  A desire to learn is very rarely among them; so rarely that it can be discounted entirely.  The task of a teacher is to provoke students to transform themselves by showing them exciting ideas and books.  What makes the ideas exciting is that they are at once important and problematic.  Students live between accepted truths and purely subjective feeling.  They don’t see any space for thinking.  They are facing the wrong direction, convinced that nothing lies behind them.

Juanita Johnson-Bailey, Education

Teaching is a three-way interaction: the learners, the teacher, and the context all drive the process.  Therefore, I never teach the same course the same way.  So, whether I have a new course prep or not, I am always doing a new course prep.  This is a necessity because there are always new readings to add and no new group of students is the same as the last.  I find this process of continual revisions and uncertainty exhausting, but it is such an exciting and synergistic way to live.  I cannot imagine doing it any other way for nothing makes me more anxious or happier than teaching.

David A. Knauft, Horticulture

What does a successful graduate  “look like” when they have been away from school for 5-10 years? . . they should be successful in their job, have the capacity for continued growth as a person and as an employee and they should be generally pleased with their quality of life.  As I reflected on these issues, I realized there were “big things” that we needed to help our students understand, so that they could gain the “little things” on their own.  These “big things” tend to be centered on human relations such as the ability to communicate, work together in teams, solve problems and continue learning.

Rodney Mauricio, Genetics

Science is the ultimate in hands-on learning: every 3rd grader is a natural-born scientist with an insatiable curiosity about the world.  How we as science educators can, in many cases, turn that innate curiosity off surprises me – but I regularly see us bludgeon curiosity and problem-solving out of students with lectures that focus on memorizing lengthy catalogs of facts.  The lecture is here to stay in the 21st century university, but must it be so uninspiring? Science can be intimidating, but science classes need not be.

David E. Shipley, Law

I learned from many outstanding teachers during my formal education. . . I had great teachers who lectured, great teachers who engaged their classes in lively discussions, and great teachers who challenged students through rigorous Socratic questioning.  My best teachers . . . were enthusiastic about their subjects and were able to convey their enthusiasm to their students.   They enjoyed being in the classroom.  All had a sense of humor and could laugh at themselves, and they treated students with respect and showed that they wanted us to understand the material. . . they never made students feel that we were wasting their time.  They put students first.

Chi N. Thai, Bio and Ag Engineering

I do not consider that teaching and learning only occur inside the classroom, thus I reserve for the classroom, activities that require more “coaching” and more “interactions” between teacher/students and students/students, where as the content may be more “concentrated” in terms of quantity and speed.  I also create other materials that student can access asynchronously on their own because this would be the “quiet” time for students to work on reinforcing their personal internal understanding linkages. . . thus, I come back full circle to student “motivation,” to a human dimension which reminds me not to be blinded by all of the glitters of technology.

J. Douglas Toma, Institute of Higher Education

My teaching philosophy is straightforward.  Fundamentally, in recognizing that students have different learning styles, I attempt to accommodate these while teaching, changing my approach and even my affect regularly to keep the attention of the group.  The same is true of not only offering students theoretical models but also presenting multiple ones so individual students can discover those that resonate with them.  I also introduce humor into my classes as often as possible, as I believe that relaxed students are more likely to master the material.