The President's Associates Outstanding Faculty Award is given annually to tenured faculty for the advancement of teaching and learning. This award of $1000 is designed to honor faculty who have sustained high achievement as teachers and whose scholarship makes a meaningful contribution to student learning.
Professor Patty Wisian-Neilson
Department of Chemistry
Patty Wisian-Neilson began her tenure in the Chemistry department at SMU in 1984, and was promoted to Professor in 1996. She is a widely-published expert in her field of polymer chemistry, but it is her outstanding devotion to undergraduate teaching that earns her the President’s Associates Award.
"Professor Patty," as she is known, teaches the famously difficult General Chemistry class. Her stated teaching philosophy: “Challenge all the students, have high expectations, and give them the best reward possible – the incredible self-satisfaction of ‘I did it!’” She does not, however, leave the students to sink or swim. Instead, through a combination of well-organized lectures, classroom examples, online help, homework assignments, and immediate feedback on exams and quizzes, she gives students the tools they need to succeed. Although enrollment in this class is well over 100 students, Professor Wisian-Neilson grades her students’ quizzes herself so that she can write instructional comments to the students as she grades. Her obvious devotion to her students has an impact: when asked “what made you choose Chemistry as a major,” a large number every year give primary credit to this professor and her General Chemistry class.