in Teaching — 2005
The Award for Excellence in Teaching
recognizes faculty members for their skill, innovation,
and dedication to teaching and academic advising.
Lee Franklin was hired by the Department of
Philosophy in 2000. Students and colleagues
alike attest to his ability to foster student
interest in difficult topics. Franklin has taught
Introduction to Philosophical Topics and Ancient
Philosophy, and goes out of his way to kindle
interest whether he is teaching a large lecture
or addressing a small group.
"As a specialist in ancient philosophy,
Lee faces the standard challenge of making clear
the relevance of, say, Aristotle, to a 21st-century
undergraduate without losing track of the historical
context of the work. When I observed his undergraduate
course, I watched him do this with
grace, subtlety, and humor," wrote colleague Ron McClamrock.
Franklin willingly takes on a large lecture
class almost every semester, which makes his
student evaluation scores even more striking, and seeks new ways to improve
outstanding teaching skills.
One student noted that Franklin established
a "conversation-like atmosphere" with
by encouraging questions and responding to them. The student wrote, "By
rapport with the class, he, like Socrates and Plato, was able to advance
the learning process
through a series of questions
David McDowall of the School of Criminal Justice
teaches the school's three-course
quantitative sequence for Ph.D. students, and
ensures UAlbany students leave with the best
possible training in statistical methods. McDowall
also serves as editor of the Journal
of Quantitative Criminology. Dean Julie Horney wrote
that students often approach the subject of
statistics with some trepidation. "Professor
McDowall, however, not only possesses a rare
quantitative sophistication, but he puts tremendous
effort into making his courses accessible to
students," she noted.
He previously received an outstanding teacher
award from the school's Graduate Student
Association. "The students appreciate the great effort Professor McDowall
makes in order to
make difficult subjects non-intimidating to students without lowering his expectations
watering down the course content," Horney wrote.
She added, "The contributions David McDowall
makes to our school help to keep us in the
forefront of the criminal justice field as we produce students who go out
to make their own
significant contributions to research on crime and justice."
Alan Lizotte teaches the required four-course statistics/research methods
sequence with McDowall for the Ph.D. program in criminal justice. Lizotte
teaches the design courses,
while McDowall teaches statistics. Lizotte noted, "Many people teach
Ph.D.-level statistics as a
tour de force, dragging students kicking and screaming through the alien
material. David does
just the opposite. He makes advanced statistics user friendly.
In addition, McDowall is a tireless contributor
to comprehensive exam and
Rabi Musah of the Department of Chemistry joined
the University in 1998. Known as a
riveting speaker who is effective at communicating
difficult concepts, Musah gives generously of
her time in and outside of the classroom. Among
the courses she has taught are Organic
Chemistry, Experimental Methods of Organic Structure
Determination, and Chemistry
She participates in the Ronald McNair Scholar
Program each summer, devoting seven hours
a day for seven weeks as the faculty mentor to several undergraduate researchers.
She has also
served as a guest lecturer in WSS 590, Research Seminar, where she has discussed
her work on
the chemistry of African traditional medicine and her efforts to fund this
One student who has worked for Musah as an undergraduate
research assistant noted,"Reflecting back
on my first encounters with her, I remember being
particularly struck by her
approach to chemistry and me – as if it were an art and I was her apprentice – and
time was of
no consequence. I could sense a genuine love, fascination, and unyielding
curiosity for her field,
and a sincere desire to foster and develop my interest in the field."
Christopher J. Smith of the Department of Geography
and Planning is a Fulbright Scholar
this academic year in the Hong Kong America Center
at Chinese University of Hong Kong. He
is pursuing his principal teaching interests,
which are China, world urbanism, urban social
geography, and advanced urban geography.
With the exception of several short breaks,
Smith has been with the department since 1980.
previous chair described him as a "departmental treasure." He is
a distinguished and
internationally recognized scholar for whom excellence in research and teaching
His world-ranging interests are informed by
travel, which has included research, field
experiences, and college teaching in China (at Xibei Daxue and at Hong Kong
University), New Zealand, Scotland, and in the University of Pittsburgh's
Semester at Sea
"Above all, Professor Smith speaks with
a real authority, an authority that students
immediately recognize and respect," noted colleagues Youqin Huang
and John Pipkin.
A former student of Smith's wrote: "There
was a time when I thought all geographers wore
'pith' helmets, sat on a mountaintop, and scanned the horizon with binoculars
their necks. However, Dr. Smith, with great patience, was able to demonstrate
influence that geography has on all the human sciences."