- Arts & Life
The Chronicle’s Facebook poll of best professors drew more than 600 votes. Here’s a look at some of the top vote-getters, a spotlight on the four most popular, and even some editor’s picks for best professors. Check out the full list at The Chronicle’s facebook page.
Health Sciences – Lisa Kaplan
Her classes may be difficult, but no one can say that Lisa Kaplan doesn’t give her students every opportunity to succeed.
“I think back to when I was a student and what I would have liked, and more importantly what I didn’t like and I try very hard to make it be about learning the stuff rather than guessing my style or guessing about tricks,” she said.
Kaplan, an associate professor of biology, records each of her lectures and makes them available to her students online. There are also several other teaching methods she employs that go beyond the average professor.
“Between the audio recordings, all the writing on Blackboard, the office hours, the out-of-class reviews for exams, the extra assignments that aren’t graded but show up somewhere else, I think what it does is regardless of your learning style, hopefully there is some component in there that you can grapple onto that you’re comfortable with,” she said.
For 10 years, adjunct associate professor Kenn Venit has blown students away on the first day of the semester. Literally.
The journalism professor offers his signature start to class when he shows students the famous R. Budd Dwyer suicide video, and immediately tells them to write a news brief.
Venit has been around Quinnipiac for 11 years (including one year in 1979-80; when “the TV studio was in the basement of the library,” he said with a laugh), and prides his teaching style on engagement.
“I engage my students,” Venit said. “It’s interactive. Everyone talks, and everyone learns how to give an opinion.”
Venit maintains a fun, entertaining atmosphere–during Monday’s class, he joked that a student’s undeclared major was not unlike the war in Libya.
“I try to use videos and current events,” Venit said. “I have a lot of fun.”
His JRN160 class’ latest assignment was to interview strangers about April Fool’s Day, and according to Venit, “it was some of the best writing of the year.”
Liberal Arts – Robert Smart
English isn’t just words on the page for professor Robert Smart, chair of the English department.
“You need to keep it contextualized,” he said.
Smart has been teaching at Quinnipiac for 11 years. This year, his class-load ranges from the introductory EN102 to EN551, offered for MAT students planning to teach at a secondary level.
“I give all credit to my students,” Smart said. “They are always engaged and involved.”
David Ives, executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, brings very unique life experiences to the classes he teaches.
“When you talk about international development, for example, I’m probably one of the few people on campus that has lived in a developing country for two years,” Ives said. “So when I talk about development or economics in that sense, it’s a real world experience and I tell stories about that.”
Ives always attempts to keep his students involved and interested, instead of simply lecturing.
“If they’re just listening, they can sometimes tune out,” he said. “But if I try to do something very interesting and then get their opinions on it and cause them to do research on an issue that they have chosen, it seems to work.”
Ives travels around the globe through his work with the ASI, including accompanying Quinnipiac students on alternative spring break trips to Nicaragua and a recent trip to the 11th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Japan, which the Dalai Lama also attended.
-Joe Pelletier, editor in chief
“Margarita Diaz (journalism) was my most influential professor–incredible teaching talent. Plain and simple, she makes you a better journalist. I’d also pick out Jonathan Rounds (English). He’s an engaging and intelligent professor that incorporates his music background into his teaching.”
Matt Ciepielowski, senior managing editor
“I prefer professors that spark interesting discussion in class, instead of just lecturing the entire time, so Sean Duffy (political science) is one of my favorites. He has a knack for getting students involved and making his classes interactive. Min Fang (Chinese) is another of my favorite professors because she makes a difficult subject very accessible and enjoyable.”
-Caryn Mitchell, business manager
“Dr. Surya Chelikani (finance) was my favorite professor. He knows so much about finance, and yet he knows how to teach and talk to you as a student for as much time as you need. Judy Gedge (accounting), another of my favorite professors, makes business law one of the most interesting courses you’ll take in the School of Business.”