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Anne Britt, James Johnson, Joseph Scudder named 2012 Presidential Teaching Professors

April 9, 2012
From top: Anne Britt, James Johnson and Joseph Scudder

From top: Anne Britt, James Johnson and Joseph Scudder

Every professor, every teacher, practices their profession according to a well-honed, learned-on-the-job personal code.

This year’s Presidential Teaching ProfessorsAnne Britt from the Department of Psychology, James Johnson from the Department of Finance and Joseph Scudder from the Department of Communication – are no exception, of course.

“I am dedicated to teaching … in a manner that is both enjoyable and challenging,” Britt says. “I don’t think any student leaves one of my classes without sensing my enthusiasm and feeling like they have accomplished something.”

“I believe that I am in partnership with my students. We all need to contribute for any class to be a successful learning experience,” Johnson says. “I believe that education should be exciting and enticing. I challenge myself to make material interesting and relevant, and to create an environment in which students want to learn.”

Scudder offers his own 12 “Basic Assumptions.”

1. Education regards the totality of living one’s life – not just getting a job.
2. Various types of intelligence exist even in pre-literate or non-literate groups.
3. Education should add value to students of all abilities who seek to learn.
4. An instructor’s job is not to teach what to think, but teach how to think.
5. Truth exists in a tension of competing values.
6. Conformity is the enemy of creativity.
7. Aesthetics are important for all, but sweet spots vary across contexts.
8. Education only happens if the instructor’s world connects with the student’s world.
9. The student is often the instructor.
10. Admit openly when you are wrong.
11. Students and society may not be ready to accept the more elegant, efficient, parsimonious and sustainable solutions.
12. Substance without clear communication is a tragedy, but communication without substance is vanity.

The Presidential Teaching Professorship designation was established in 1991 to recognize outstanding teachers who have demonstrated that:

  • They instill and develop in students an intensity of interest in and an appreciation for the value of the subject.
  • They apply rigorous standards to student performance, inspire students to become the best and stimulate student growth.
  • They command respect and esteem as a teacher.
  • They demonstrate extraordinary commitment to students and their welfare.
  • They explore and develop effective instructional methods and technologies.
  • They work actively with students, faculty, and administrators to improve undergraduate and/or graduate education at NIU.

Each receives budgetary support and release time for the enhancement of his or her teaching skills. After four years as a Presidential Teaching Professor, each is designated a Distinguished Teaching Professor.

“As their students and colleagues already know, this year’s Presidential Teaching Professors are those exceptional educators who are beloved and respected even though their courses are difficult and challenging,” Vice Provost Anne Birberick says.

“And, despite their varied disciplines, they share a common goal: to guide their students on the journey to becoming productive members of society who are critical thinkers and lifelong learners. NIU is lucky to count Anne Britt, Jim Johnson and Joe Scudder among our faculty.”

Click on the links below for closer looks at this year’s Presidential Teaching Professors: