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Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award

Since 2001, The Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award annually recognizes four SMU faculty members for their notable commitment to and achievements in fostering student learning. These are teachers whose concerns for higher education go beyond classroom boundaries and often the boundaries of their own disciplines. In student mentoring, in discussions about teaching, and in continuous reflection about their own successes and ways to improve, they represent the highest achievement in reaching the goals of higher education. Guidelines for nomination and selection are here.

Recipients receive a $10,000 award and membership in SMU's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. For two years following the award, they participate actively with other members of the Academy in providing campus-wide leadership in teaching and learning.

Here are the 2013 recipients of the Award:

Thomas W. Carr

Dr. Carr received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University before coming to SMU in 1996. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, where he teaches a wide range of courses, from beginning-level undergraduates all the way to advanced graduate courses.
He has long been recognized for excellence in teaching – in his fourth year at SMU he received the Golden Mustang Award, and he is a two-time recipient of the student-chosen HOPE award. Nor does he rest on his laurels: for the past year Dr. Carr has been working with a math department colleague to test different teaching methods both qualitatively and quantitatively – an endeavor which will provide data that can impact math education both here at SMU and on a national level.

Students in Dr. Carr’s classes consistently note his enthusiasm and his use of real-life applications, and he clearly teaches math well. But his goal for his students is even broader. Here’s his teaching philosophy: while specific mathematical formulas may be learned and forgotten, “the curiosity, critical thinking, and skills of quantitative analysis they develop along the way will be their tools for a lifetime.”

Robert E. Krout

Dr. Krout first visited SMU’s Music Therapy program while a graduate student at Columbia University. That visit made a lasting impression, and he was excited to return to SMU in 2004 to teach and direct the program. He received an M.A. in Music Therapy, M.Ed. in Special Education, and Doctor of Education in Music and Arts from Columbia University.

The quality of Dr. Krout’s teaching was recognized two years ago with the Meadows School of the Arts Outstanding Teaching Professor Award, and last year he received the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award. Dean José Bowen praises Dr. Krout’s teaching, pointing out that he is “sensitive to diversity, supportive and caring of all students but still demands high standards of work and personal behavior.” Students rise to the challenge and come back for more. As one wrote, “my only regret is that I did not have him as a professor every semester.”

Dr. Krout’s teaching philosophy could be a faculty manual: “I believe strongly in a competency-based approach to teaching, one in which the desired student learning outcomes are clearly articulated [and] in which the instructor is responsible for providing innovative, creative, and motivating learning experiences through which students can develop those outcomes. . . . I also believe that teaching, scholarship, and service to the university . . . are all parts of a whole, ones which come together to serve our most important constituents, our students here at SMU.”

Sheri Locklear Kunovich

Dr. Kunovich, an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, received her M.A. and Ph.D degrees from Ohio State University. Since she began teaching at SMU in 2004, she has taught seven different classes and has directed dozens of undergraduate distinction projects, independent study projects, and student internships. In addition to receiving the Golden Mustang Teaching Award, she has been instrumental in contributing to the quality of teaching at SMU. She was a co-organizer of the 2012 symposium, “Gender at the Lectern,” and this year was the facilitator of the Faculty Learning Community on “Rethinking the Writing Assignment.”

Dr. Kunovich is clearly a professor who makes a strong impression on her students. Letters from former students emphasize that that she inspired them, making them open their eyes to the world around them as she makes Sociology come alive. Evaluations from current students show excitement about learning. One student said, “This course made me want to show up at 9:30 every day.”

Her colleagues agree, commenting on her ability to both inspire the top students and pull the struggling ones back toward academic success. Dean William Tsutsui summed it up this way: “I have met few classroom instructors in my career who could consistently have a formative impact on virtually every student she teaches, but Sheri Kunovich is one of them. She cares deeply, gives freely of her time, expertise, and heart, and has the remarkable skill-set necessary to engage, inspire, and truly touch just about all those who enroll in her classes. . . . Sheri Kunovich is the real deal.”

Luis Maldonado

Dr. Maldonado studied in the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature at the University of Puerto Rico, and he received his Ph.D. in Contemporary Latin American Literature from Georgetown University. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of World Languages and Literature, where he teaches upper division Spanish courses.

A recipient of a Rotunda Outstanding Professor award, Dr. Maldonado’s students comment on his ability to make them love Latin American literature and culture. He chooses challenging material. He uses technology wisely. And he has inspired numerous students to major in Spanish.

The most noteworthy aspect of his teaching is what the students do in the classroom. Dr. Maldonado manages to simulate class discussions in which both native and non-native speakers feel not just able but compelled to participate. The challenge, breadth of knowledge, and sense of accomplishment combine to provide his students a lifelong gift. As one noted last year, “I feel smarter and more knowledgeable about the world because of this class.”

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