Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vermont Professor of the Year

Champlain College professor honored as Vermont's best
Free Press Staff Report • Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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Del.icio.us Facebook Digg Reddit Newsvine Twitter FarkIt Type Size A A A A Champlain College faculty member has been named Vermont professor of the year on the strength of his work in Global Modules, an unusual international discussion forum that's part of the college's interdisciplinary core curriculum.

Gary Scudder, 50, assistant dean for global engagement, was among more than 300 professors nominated for the annual award issued by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Winners are named for each state and for the nation at large.

Scudder conceived of Global Modules, in which Champlain students exchange ideas with their counterparts at colleges overseas, about eight years ago. The discussions — via electronic bulletin-board postings — take place over four-week intervals around various themes in each of the Champlain students’ first three years. The third-year theme, for example, is human rights.

“We don’t do videoconferencing,” Scudder said in an e-mail, “because it is expensive and often doesn’t work ... and only a few people talk. Instead, we created a system where everyone is required to participate.” He described the discussion as an “asynchronous dialogue.”

“My dream was to embed these online discussions with international partners as part of the required curriculum,” he said, adding: “No one else does this.”

The list of international partners has grown to 17 countries, including Jordan, Russia and India.

“Gary is an outstanding professor,” Elizabeth Beaulieu, dean of the core division, said in a college news release. “He has an amazing gift, and our students are lucky to have him.”

President David Finney called the award “an extraordinary honor.”

“This is an important first for our college,” he said.

Scudder and other award winners were honored at a special luncheon in Washington, D.C., last month.

“They emphasize learning, not just teaching; inspiring, not just profession; and exploring, not just explaining,” said John Lippincott, president of CASE, in his ceremonial remarks. “In short, they are exceptional representatives of a noble profession.”

Honorees were selected, in part, based on criteria that considered their impact on students and their scholarly approach to teaching.

Scudder, in his 11th year at Champlain, said he was humbled by the award and the recognition “makes me want to work even harder for my students in the future.”

Previous Vermont winners have included John Elder, professor of English and environmental studies at Middlebury College (2008); David Mindich, professor of journalism at St. Michael’s College (2006); Sunhee Choi, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Middlebury (2005); and Susan Dinitz, lecturer in English at the University of Vermont (2004).
This story appeared on page B1 of Tuesday's Burlington Free Press


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