?Don?t take Macalevey for Physics. He?s terrible.? When it comes time to register for classes, chances are that this is the only type of advice you will hear. Many students choose UTD for the quality of its academic programs, but it seems that, once they?re here, the only suggestions they can offer are about who not to take; the good teachers largely get ignored, though not without reason.
There are a thousand-and-one different things that make an incompetent professor and UTD, like every other university in the world, has its fair share of them. They can be too hard or too easy, terrible lecturers, terrible graders, boring, uncaring, confusing ? the list goes on and on.
By comparison the list of things that makes a good professor is relatively small and seems to be common to all, no matter what the subject. Good professors are knowledgeable; they are clear in their explanations; they genuinely care about their students? success, and make extra time to help students that need it. Most importantly, they do their best to make the material interesting to learn.
All too often, the good professors go unrecognized. I think we should all do our part to try to change this and focus on the good professors. Here are some examples:
Arts & Humanities
Dr. Theresa Towner, Humanities
Though she teaches a class that can easily turn tedious and time-consuming, Towner works hard to ensure that her lessons are entertaining as well as productive. She encourages all students to offer their insights during discussions and takes their interests into account when developing her plans.
Robert Nelsen, Intro. to the Arts
Though, unfortunately, Nelsen generally only teaches CV class, anyone who has the opportunity should take one of his classes. Nelsen has a way of teaching that students find constantly encouraging, despite their predispositions. If a student feels that they cannot draw, for instance, Professor Nelsen?s enthusiasm to see his students succeed convinces them that they can. Students feel that they learn as much about themselves as they do about art in his courses.
Others: Betty Wiesepape, Creative Writing
Mine Ozer, International Business
As a degree requirement, this is not the most interesting subject matter, but Ozer makes it interesting by involving students in the class rather than just lecturing. She takes breaks from the normal routine for fun activities that help students gain an understanding of the material. She also makes a point of learning the names of all of her students.
Mark LePlant, Business Finance
Though the material is hard, LePlant does his best to provide students with a clear understanding. He keeps very open office hours and makes himself available to help students without just passing them off to the TA at every turn. The course organization is clear, and students know both what they can expect from him and what he expects from them.
Others: David Richey, Organizational Behavior; Tiffany Bortz, Audit and Intermediate Accounting, I & II
Engineering & Comp Sci
Hoi Lee, Power Management Circuits
Lee is knowledgeable and entertaining with a unique talent for explaining difficult concepts. He also is a proven professional in the field who works at Texas Instruments; he teaches at UTD only because he has a passion for the material and likes to help students become interested as well.
Larry King, Computer Science II
Due to his extensive experience, King has a great familiarity with the bane of all CS majors - debugging. After many years of experience teaching students and building programs of his own, he is able to help students understand why their errors occurred, enabling them to better avoid them in the future. King is also very interesting lecturer.
Others: J.B. Lee, Electronic Devices; David Russo, Software Engineering
Dr. Edward Harpham, Government
Rather than what most students expect from the class (a dry repetition of facts we have all heard since elementary school), Harpham?s lectures are enjoyable and engaging. He forces his students to think by playing devil?s advocate to their ideas and presenting old issues in a new, intriguing light. If you don?t have an opinion on the subject when you get to the class, you will by the time you leave it.
Others: Paul Jarkowski, Poverty and Unemployment; Kathy Lingo, Interpersonal Communications
Natural Science & Math
Mieczyslaw Dabkowski, Complex Var.
Beyond providing a clear understanding of the material, it is apparent to Dabkowski?s students that he truly cares about their success. Rather than focusing on being able to solve individual problems, he tries to ensure that students have a clear grasp of the underlying concepts, ensuring their success not just on his tests, but on the later application of the material outside class.
Others: Dr. John Sibert, Chemistry 2; Gregory Earle, Electronics; Paul Stanford, Linear Algebra.
Jim Wohlgehagen, Instr. in Mathematics
Wohlgehagen is heavily involved in the field, as Math Coordinator for Plano ISD. All of his lectures have a point, and students leave each class with the definite feeling that they have learned something valuable each and every time. Students are encouraged to participate in every lecture, and Wohlgehagen feels that student discussions are an integral part of the educational process.