Mike Brown and his wife, Nancy, have literally helped build a new university with their generosity.
In a salute to professors and their accomplishments in education, University of La Verne hosted “Celebration of Teaching” on Thursday, November 29, an event that shared and showcased the unique talents and successes coming out of classrooms throughout campus.
On Thursday, La Verne came together to celebrate its diverse faculty and staff, who highlighted their teaching expertise, tools and methods in front of hundreds of attendees.
La Verne Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Humanities Professor Dr. Alfred Clark organized the event. “The University of La Verne is a Teaching institution and this is an opportunity for our teachers to share some of the things that work best for them,” he said. This was the second time in four years that the event, Celebration of Teaching, took place. “We are hoping to make it an annual event,” he said.
Effective teaching practices, projects and professional advice were shared by participants, including La Verne Professor of Education and Director of Teacher Education Dr. Peggy Redman. She noted how, as a teacher, important it is to be flexible and current in teaching styles. “The world is changing, if teachers do not keep that in mind that it is a different world year after year then they allow themselves to become antiquated and not have as much to offer their students,” she said.
Professor of Organizational Leadership Dr. Carol Sawyer explained her process in designing a class, where she applies Howard Gardner’s views on how students learn in different ways. She explained that students learn through logic, story telling and social interaction. She creates assignments based on that knowledge. Dr. Sawyer goes as far as examining the difference between learning through the right and left side of the brain. Not only has she made it possible for her students to interact with other students internationally, she has also spoken about her teaching methods in Poland and wrote a journal about the same subject.
“I am a subject matter expert, and I am always doing research but I have to go beyond that to be a resource, a guide, a teacher, a catalyst, a facilitator, a coordinator, an evaluator, a coach, a meaning maker and a designer,” said Dr. Sawyer.
Assistant Professor of Marketing Susan Caple, introduced the concept of the Integrated Business Program within the College of Business and Public Management. “It is a combined course by professors Issam Ghazzawi, Paul Abbondante and Gary Schantz,” she said. She explained that the purpose is to enhance student learning through an integrated business curriculum by combining finance, management, and marketing into a single 12-unit course and to overlay the integration with a three-unit experiential learning course component. Students are charged to form a company, determine a target market and product, develop a business plan, seek a loan from a bank and sell the product throughout the semester. Their profits are donated to a non-profit organization of their choice. She said that this is a way to bring theory into practice.
Professor of Business Administration Dr. Janice Dietz shared her personal view of how to be an effective educator. She said that although some may disagree, she saw her students as customers. “Love your students, don’t short-change them, give them more than they are paying for and do the best that you possibly can on behalf of them and the university,” she said.
Professor of Organizational Leadership Dr. Thomas Harvey has been teaching for 43 years. He highlighted three key points for efficient teaching: One, keep it simple by focusing mainly on the students. “You can go from the simple to the complex but you cannot go from the complex to the simple,” he said. Second, he mentioned the importance of story telling to keep students engaged, and third, he suggested to keep teaching materials very simple and clear. “Don’t clutter materials. A great teacher makes things simple, not complicated,” he said.
Not all presenters were faculty members. Associate Dean of Academic Support and Retention Services Dr. Carlos Cervantes explained the importance of academic advising and its connection to teaching. “Academic advising is important for success and student retention,” he said. “Advising is teaching.”
Additional presenters included Associate Professor Management Kathy Duncan, Associate Professor of Education Dr. Jackie Allen, Associate Professor of Management Dr. Issam Ghazzawi and more.
The event attested La Verne’s commitment to lifelong learning, not only by teaching but also by doing. “That’s the great thing about being a professor, you get to be a learner and a student forever,” said Dr. Sawyer.
— Story by Oscar De Leon
— Image by Mark Vidal