The Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 21, 2001
May 21, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 35


University Salutes Outstanding Teachers

Annual awards recognize excellence of faculty in all academic divisions

Contributing Writers
All Divisions

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Founding president Daniel Coit Gilman believed that in order to have a "great university," Johns Hopkins needed "great professors." This belief was born out in his inaugural address, given in 1876.

"As a fundamental proposition, bear in mind that we shall aim to choose the fittest teachers, and shall expect them to do their very best work," Gilman said. "None but a college officer will appreciate all that this brief sentence carries with it."

The university's commitment to attracting the finest educators continues into today.

To recognize those who excel in the art of instruction, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association since 1992 has sponsored the Excellence in Teaching Awards so that each academic division of the university might publicly recognize the critical importance of teaching.

Each year the Alumni Association provides funds to each school--this year the amount was $2,000--that can be given to one winner, shared by up to four or attached to another, divisional teaching award. The nomination and selection process differs by school, but students must be involved in the selection process.

In addition to the Alumni Association's awards, a Homewood student committee annually bestows the Johns Hopkins Student Council Award for Excellence in Teaching on outstanding Arts and Sciences and Engineering faculty. The winners are selected by a Student Council committee and a faculty adviser, who base their decisions on written course evaluations and recommendations from undergraduates, graduate students, alumni and faculty. The teachers cannot have won the award within the past three years.

Since 1988, the School of Nursing has honored exceptional faculty members with the Caroline Pennington Award, named for a graduate of the class of 1918. The award, given annually to a faculty member nominated by students, recognizes excellence in teaching and is given to that faculty member who sets high standards and nurtures growth through his or her own embodiment of the skill and compassion required to practice both the art and science of nursing.

The following faculty members are recipients of the 2001 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards. The Student Council winners are profiled on this page and the Pennington Award winner here.

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Marie Diener-West, large class size

Although this year marks the fourth time Marie Diener-West, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics, has won an Alumni Association award (which Public Health calls a Golden Apple), she is anything but blase about the honor. "For me," says Diener-West, who received the honor in the large class-size category, "the fact that these students--current or future public health leaders from around the world--want to be here at the school, and want to learn from me, is always humbling."

Diener-West teaches Introduction to Public Health Statistics in the summer, followed by Statistical Methods in Public Health, which is taught in two sections. Asked why she is such a standout when it comes to the student-conferred prize, she gives herself faint praise: "I have the privilege of being one of the first teachers that large numbers of students are exposed to early on." She is too modest.

"Marie treats every student as an individual and with dignity," says Ron Brookmeyer, a professor and colleague in the Department of Biostatistics. "I might be exaggerating, but I'd swear she knows the names of every one of the 200-some students in her classes."

Brookmeyer's statement is no exaggeration. Sara Johnson, an M.P.H. student who took Diener-West's introductory course this year, says, "We all knew it wouldn't be business as usual when she knew many of our names by the second week of class."

Christy Fong, an M.P.H. student of Diener-West's from a few years back, gives her professor high marks for staying late after class to answer questions, and for her clarity of thought. "She made an effort to express complicated concepts in several different ways, in order to capitalize on students' different learning styles."

Besides her endless patience (some students affectionately refer to her as "Ste. Marie"), another Diener-West hallmark is her ability to inject humor into the forbidding subject of biostatistics. It's not that she's a comedian in class; she simply doesn't take herself too seriously. Sara Johnson again: "Her willingness to laugh at herself--and at us--took the fear and loathing out of biostatistics. Most M.P.H. students come into the program dreading biostatistics. She makes it completely painless--quite a feat."

Diener-West's recipe for classroom success is simple but not easy: Have an interest in your students, monitor the pulse of your class (how, if your class numbers 200? "Look out there at the students") and strike a balance between expounding on your subject and fielding questions. And her reward? "Seeing the light bulbs going on above their heads as the students make connections," she says.

--Rod Graham

John McGready, medium class size

John McGready says he was excited to learn he was the recipient of this year's Golden Apple award for a medium-size class.

"My wife, Roni, tracked me down at a conference in Florida," McGready recalls. "At first I thought something terrible had happened, but then she surprised me with the news. I am really honored to receive this award."

McGready joined the Bloomberg School nearly two years ago as a research associate and instructor with the Department of Biostatistics. One of his courses, the online version of Statistical Reasoning in Public Health, consistently receives high marks from students who take the course. Eighty percent of his students give the course an "excellent" rating.

Part of McGready's success may be from his efforts to create an interactive classroom environment and foster a sense of community between the students, a skill he developed as a high school math teacher.

"Creating a community among students is especially challenging with online instruction, and it is something I hope to continue to improve upon," McGready explains.

In addition to his teaching duties, McGready works as a consultant in conjunction with other researchers providing expertise for grant proposals, complex data management and analyses, and manuscript preparation.

McGready says teaching biostatistics is a rewarding experience. He says he especially enjoys working with a diverse group of students.

"I love math, and I love to summarize information that applies to real issues affecting everyone," he says. "Besides, it's fun."

--Tim Parsons

Lynda Burton, small class size

Lynda Burton developed her ideas about what makes a good teacher as a student at the School of Public Health a decade ago. Her list of crucial attributes includes strong verbal skills, a sense of humor and the ability to communicate excitement about the subject.

Although Burton claims to be deficient in each category, her students evidently disagree. They selected the associate research professor in Health Policy and Management for the Golden Apple award for small classes.

"I think she's brilliant and very engaging," says Khai Nguyen, who took a course with Burton last year. "I'm glad to hear she's getting this award."

Burton says she's "delighted" to receive the honor. "The teaching award is a wonderful event for me," says Burton, who teaches Health Issues for Aging Populations and Introduction to Methods for Health Services Research and Evaluation.

Burton is a late academic bloomer. After raising three children, she began studies for her doctor of science degree when she was in her 50s. Burton thinks her late entry into academia has influenced her teaching or at least how students perceive her. "Am I a mother figure for them? I don't think I'm an easy teacher, but maybe my age, having raised kids and having grandkids makes you gentler," she says.

But her teaching is influenced more by her research in aging and in health services for older people. "I think it enriches my teaching to be out doing research," she says. "In the methods course, I can explain the theory and then say, 'Here's what it's like in the real world.' I think [research] makes it come alive. I think it makes me a better teacher."

Burton also believes she's a better researcher because she teaches. During class discussions, Burton tells students about her ongoing studies and challenges them to find flaws. She also learns from students offering opinions based on their own work and personal experience.

"She is a compassionate human being who cares very deeply about her topic, is very knowledgeable and is almost too modest about her knowledge," says Pauline Lapin, a former student of Burton's who works for the Health Care Financing Administration. "She cares deeply about the students' understanding and learning the topic. She's one of the best."

--Brian Simpson

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Tristan Davies

It's rare to catch the Writing Seminars' Tristan Davies walking across campus unaccompanied by a student. And if he is alone, on his way from Point A to Point B he is usually stopped by a number of students for a chat. Students are drawn to Davies at first for his social and witty manner, but soon it's because they've realized that this is a faculty member with a lot of heart.

"Tristan Davies cares more about the well-being and success of his students than any educator I've ever come across," wrote one student who nominated him. "As writers, thinkers, students and individuals, he has invested a tremendous amount of energy and concern in all of us. Now that graduation is so close, I've found myself missing him already, and marveling at how skillfully he has brought students in my department together, giving us a sense of purpose and identity. Not to mention the fact that he's without a doubt one of the funniest people I've ever met, and he manages to carry that humor into the classroom without ever seeming stilted or forced."

For his part, Davies, who is a senior lecturer, said he enjoys every moment of working with the undergraduates.

"These students are extraordinarily smart. I am continually amazed by them."

Davies believes that the key to being a good creative writing teacher is the ability when critiquing students' work to set a tone that is a careful balance between honesty and tact.

"You have to be sensitive to what's at stake," Davies says. "Writing fiction can be a deeply emotional thing. The students definitely are baring part of themselves, and in their writing their feelings often lie very close to the surface. But there's no utility in a workshop if people aren't going to be honest. So as a teacher it is essential to be mindful of those two things.

"And if, in fact, I am a good teacher, then it's only because I've been lucky to have really good teachers at every stage of my writing life who were able to strike that balance. I'm just trying to emulate those teachers I admire who have had such a positive influence in my life."

This semester, Davies taught a senior fiction workshop for long works. Other semesters, in addition to working with seniors, he teaches Introduction to Fiction courses.

"I really love to teach the Intro to Fiction because the students are always so eager and receptive. The senior workshop is a joy to teach as well because it's less instructional and more collaborative. You really get to know the students well that way."

Many of those students will keep in touch. Davies has a rich and active e-mail list and counts some of his former students as his good friends.

--Leslie Rice Masterman

Liman Lievens

When her students arrive at her accelerated intermediate or intermediate Chinese class, Liman Lievens wants them to do more than work on their fluency or ability to decipher Chinese letters--she wants them to feel as if they've stepped into mainland China.

"I never speak English with my students," says Lievens, aka Professor Li. "I'm sure they all think I don't even know the language. But the truth is, I really feel that the best way to learn it is to totally immerse them in the language."

What makes her class come alive, said junior Marcus Leung-Shea, a public health major, is Lievens' way of drawing the students into Chinese culture during her hourlong class, which typically is held five days a week.

"She doesn't just teach the language," Leung-Shea says. "She tries to show us how to think like a Chinese person. For instance, if we are learning about Chinese monuments, Professor Li will search the Web to find pictures of monuments for us to keep. If we are learning about Chinese families, Professor Li shares her own Chinese experience with us to help us understand and appreciate our learning even more."

But in addition to her teaching style, nearly every one of Lievens' students who nominated her wrote about her kind and nurturing manner, which had a profound impact on them.

"Although many people influence me in different ways and to different degrees, Professor Li has been a constant positive force in my life since I first stepped foot into her classroom, since I first received a reassuring pat on the shoulder, since I was first offered a granola bar from her handbag on a particularly sleepy Monday morning," wrote Leung-Shea in his nominating letter.

Lievens has been teaching Chinese for 20 years, the last five at Hopkins. A native of Taiwan, she says she married her best student, Bavo Lievens, a Belgian diplomat who was then posted to Taiwan, and who now teaches Chinese philosophy here in the Department of History.

"I like teaching enormously," she says. "The students here have so much enthusiasm, it is very rewarding to be around them. I think what I am most proud of right now is that of my class of 25 students, 15 have decided to go to China in some way this year, either to study or to visit. I'm just so happy that somehow taking my class might have inspired them."

--Leslie Rice Masterman

Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

SAIS will announce its winners at commencement.

Peabody Conservatory

Eileen Soskin

Students have found in Eileen Soskin, a member of the Peabody Conservatory's Music Theory faculty, a teacher of extraordinary talent, who teaches music in a way possible only for those who have a deep love for the art. One of her students once characterized Soskin's teaching as "infectiously enthusiastic." In her classroom, there are no unworthy questions, no worthless ideas, no students undeserving of a chance to succeed. She seems to know intuitively what students need, how they learn best, what they seek and what excites their imagination.

A mezzo-soprano and pianist, Soskin is widely recognized as an engaging lecturer in pre-performance venues. An expert on the oratorio Messiah, she has written, filmed and produced Really Hearing Handel's Messiah to great critical acclaim.

Soskin joined the Music Theory Department in 1988, and has served as its chair, as president of the Faculty Assembly and as a faculty representative to the Academic Council. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, a master of arts degree in music theory from San Francisco State University and a doctorate in musicology from the University of California, Berkeley.

--Anne Garside

School of Medicine

Charles J. Yeo

Hopkins medical students are a special breed, says Charles Yeo, professor of surgery and oncology at the School of Medicine. They are uncannily bright, highly motivated and "spongelike" in their ability to absorb all manner of knowledge. And confident, Yeo says. That is, until they meet the 900-pound gorilla known as the basic surgical clerkship, an intensive nine-week program intended to expose medical students to the knowledge base and technical aspects of surgery.

Talk about your cold glass of water in the face.

"For the first time in their lives many of them are confronted with a body of knowledge they cannot possibly master, and certainly not in nine weeks," says Yeo, who has been director of the surgical clerkship for 10 years. "Surgery is so broad, so encompassing. There are thousands upon thousands of topics. It is impossible to feel any sense of mastery in this small amount of time. Perhaps not even in a lifetime."

Yeo says many students spend the first week of the clerkship timid and overwhelmed.

"Whatever they are, they are certainly not relaxed," says Yeo, who coordinates the clerkship and meets with small groups of students periodically over the nine-week span.

When faced with anxious and uncertain students, Yeo says a little bit of levity can go a long way. To relieve a student's tension, Yeo always has a joke on standby, plays rock 'n' roll in the operating room and, just when the situation starts to get too stressful, has been known to prompt an all-out bull session.

"People learn better when they are comfortable in their environment," Yeo says, "not when they feel this hammer of God ready to slam down on their heads."

Yeo sees his role as an educator as one who inspires, builds confidence and teaches his students how to learn. He says he is always heartened when those very same students who were timid and anxious early on start to challenge him in a group session and, perhaps even more important, walk out of the classroom, clinic or OR with smiles on their faces.

Only one in five medical students will go on to be a surgeon, Yeo says, but converting students to his particular expertise is not the end-all for him.

"Most of the students leave the clerkship saying they had a good time and that they learned a lot," Yeo says. "Many tell me they didn't think they would enjoy it at all, and even though they still may not want to be surgeons, they can see how others would enjoy it."

Yeo adds, "That's enough for me."

--Greg Rienzi

School of Nursing

Victoria Mock, graduate programs

Victoria Mock, an associate professor, says she believes that by teaching clinical excellence, she can lead her students to provide quality health care. Mock is the recipient of this year's Excellence in Teaching Award for graduate programs.

Mock has been teaching at the School of Nursing since 1994. She is also director of Oncology Nursing Research at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mock's area of expertise is symptom management and quality of life during cancer treatment. Much of her research is aimed at managing the intense fatigue that comes from chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She was recently appointed chair of the Fatigue Practice Guidelines Panel of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Mock received a doctorate of nursing science degree in 1988 from the Catholic University of America in Washington. Her master's degree in nursing came from the University of California, San Francisco, and she received a bachelor's degree in nursing from Duke University.

One nursing student said Mock "exemplifies excellence in clinical scholarship, integrating nursing science into practice. She is able to clearly mentor students in a constructive, beneficial manner. Dr. Mock is easily able to guide student development and foster scholarly inquiry at the highest level."

Mock says she is honored to receive the teaching award. "I am especially pleased to be recognized by the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association and our School of Nursing, as teaching is a vital and essential component of our research university but, most importantly, because the recipient is chosen by the students."

--Kate Pipkin

Dolores Elliott, undergraduate programs

For School of Nursing clinical instructor Dolores Elliott, recipient of this year's Excellence in Teaching Award for undergraduate programs, the most important thing she can impart to students is a passion for nursing. As a clinical instructor, she works on site with students in a clinical setting rather than in a classroom.

"I try to get students to look at the big picture," she explains. "I teach them about nursing and health care issues that affect everybody. I also teach them everything I can about the profession of nursing. It's important that they know where nursing has been and where it is going."

Elliott currently works with Hopkins nursing students on the maternal/child unit, a medical-surgical unit and a psychiatric unit at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md.

Elliott received a bachelor's degree in nursing from Columbia Union College and a master's degree in nursing from the Catholic University of America.

A student who worked with Elliott says, "She is passionate about nursing. She is an advocate for her students and patients. Ms. Elliott has taught us to be active in our profession and to broaden our roles in the community for the clients we serve. She has taught us to provide care with respect, concern and professional attention to detail to a variety of populations."

Elliott says she is "proud and privileged" to receive the teaching award. "It means that I have reached the students and made a difference in their lives, and that's what it's all about."

--Kate Pipkin

School of Professional Studies in Business and Education

E. Joseph Lamp, Undergraduate Division

To many people, the prospect of having to get up in front of an audience and give a speech is horrifying. Yet for nearly 20 years, E. Joseph Lamp has been taking the terror out of public speaking--and delighting students--in the Undergraduate Division of SPSBE.

Lamp, who began his career at SPSBE in 1982, recently has been teaching Introduction to Public Speaking and Persuasive Speech. He regularly wins plaudits for an engaging mix of enthusiasm, style and skill that prompted one student to call him "a JHU legend." Another student wrote in a course evaluation, "The man was great in all respects"; while yet another observed, "There should be more like him--can we clone him?"

Down through the years, the praise has been consistent: Said one previous student, "Dr. Lamp is the best teacher you could have in a subject you were scared of."

Toni Ungaretti, assistant dean and director of the Undergraduate Division, says, "The depth of Joe's knowledge and experience--ranging in fields from public speaking to animal advocacy--plus his gentle, competent style inspire, excite and empower our students. He is truly one of the treasures of our Undergraduate Division."

Lamp obtained his doctorate in public communication from the University of Maryland and currently is chair of the Speech Department at Anne Arundel Community College. He has co-authored books and written technical manuals and articles on delivering speeches, interviewing members of focus groups, advertising and the creation of research centers. He also is vice president of Applied Data Associates in Severna Park, Md., and has provided research and consulting services for the Anne Arundel County government, private companies and the continuing medical education program at Hopkins.

"I am so honored. I was thrilled," Lamp said after learning of his award. "You can't find nicer people than those at Hopkins."

Lamp says that his students are dedicated. "They come prepared. They're not there because their parents said it would be a good thing to go to Hopkins. They are there to learn. They're terrific."

--Neil A. Grauer

Jack Newcombe Cole, Graduate Division of Business and Management

As a faculty associate in SPSBE's Master of Science in Marketing, Information Technology, and Management/Organization Development and Human Resources programs, Jack Newcombe Cole is thoroughly versed in all the latest applications of information technology to marketing, but he knows something perhaps even more valuable in business: how to deal with people.

Cole's areas of expertise include applied behavioral science along with marketing and IT, "and that's a neat mixture," says Pete Petersen, interim associate dean and director of SPSBE's Graduate Division of Business and Management.

"It's a needed combination of high tech and high touch," Petersen says. "Young people today can spend all their time in front of a computer and really need to learn about dealing with people face-to-face."

Cole's interaction with his students is "motivational, humorous, insightful and perceptive," according to one student evaluation. Said another, "[He] thinks outside the box, involves students, asks opinions, listens, invites new ideas and concepts with class, ties academia into real life--what a concept!" "Dr. Cole is the reason I looked to Hopkins for graduate study," a third student proclaimed.

Petersen says that Cole "brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise" to a wide range of courses, including Human Resources and Technology, Managing People and Technology in the Workplace, Marketing Issues for the Electronic Marketplace, Marketing of Services, Marketing Strategy II, Marketing Technology, Organizational Development and Technology, Product Design and Technology Management, Self-Directed Work Teams and Technology, Business and Organizational Structure.

Cole also regularly performs services for departments in the Graduate Division of Business and Management that go well beyond his teaching responsibilities there. He provides support and assistance to faculty development workshops, faculty mentoring and training, and curriculum development. He also serves as an applied research project adviser, attends division open houses and appears in the department speaker series.

Affiliated with SPSBE since 1994, Cole obtained his doctorate. from the University of Maryland and currently is director of training development for the Community Learning and Information Network in Washington, D.C. He also is a representative of Business Development for Express at the Princeton Center for Educational Services.

"Dr. Cole is an extraordinary individual who exemplifies the quality and excellence we seek in all of our faculty," says Katherine Wilson, associate director of the Department of Marketing.

Cole has a similarly high regard for his students, whom he calls "the participants" in his classes because he stresses the "collegiality" of their work together.

"They are top-flight people. My focus is on working with them to enhance their knowledge and skills--and I learn as much from them as they do from me. And that's what makes it work. These participants are marvelous people, the smartest I've ever seen. That's why they've come to Hopkins. Across the board, the people in our classes are leading the pack. My philosophy in the classroom is to show them how to make sure that their river of knowledge continues to flow."

--Neil A. Grauer

David and Judy Brubaker, Graduate Division of Education

David Brubaker and his wife, Judy Brubaker, consider themselves "a package deal" for the Graduate Division of Education, having jointly taught Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in School Settings to aspiring teachers for the past three years.

The Brubakers have been teachers and administrators in Montgomery County's school system for 25 years--she at the elementary school level, he in middle schools--so together they offer SPSBE graduate education students "an elementary and secondary approach" to teaching, David Brubaker notes.

Judy Brubaker began as a kindergarten teacher, has served since 1993 as principal of Germantown Elementary and now is "building a school from scratch," having just been named principal of the New Northwest Elementary School Number 6, which will open in September. David Brubaker began as a teacher of history and special education classes in grades six through 12 and has been principal of the Earle B. Wood Middle School in Germantown for the past five years. "So together, we can transcend the whole continuum, from kindergarten through high school," he says.

David Brubaker says he and his wife have found SPSBE's master of arts in teaching students to be "bright, talented and well-prepared."

"I do most of the grading of the papers, and frankly, I enjoy it," he says. "They bring a wide variety of life experiences to class, and that is going to be very good for them. They are extremely sincere, and there are some exemplary people in the program. That's why we teach here. It's our way of giving back."

The MAT students clearly appreciate the Brubakers' gifts. "I cannot overstate their enthusiasm and energy with this class, which made me that much more enthusiastic," one student wrote in an evaluation. "They provided wonderful teacher modeling as well." Another student wrote, "They gave us assignments that made us research, review, analyze and reflect--all assignments were meaningful and will be applicable to our classrooms. Great class!"

Linda Poole, director of the MAT program, says, "The Brubakers have made many contributions to our program. Their teaching has been exceptional, always receiving very high evaluations from the students. Equally important, they have an infectious enthusiasm for teaching and a genuine dedication to the education of all children."

Poole says that the Brubakers additionally have made many other contributions to the development of the MAT program. "Both Judy and Dave work with the faculty and other faculty associates on a regular basis to review and update the content and delivery of their courses. They serve voluntarily as members of review teams for the portfolios that our candidates do as the 'capstone' of our program. Furthermore, they both encourage our students to visit their schools and actively seek resources and opportunities for professional growth for our students."

Judy and Dave Brubaker are outstanding teachers and outstanding examples of how faculty associates can become an integral part of and a valuable asset to graduate programs at Johns Hopkins, she says.

--Neil A. Grauer

Whiting School of Engineering

Nick Jones

Professor Nick Jones was worried that his hectic schedule might be cutting into his long-standing commitment to teaching. In addition to his classroom duties, Jones chairs the Department of Civil Engineering, serves on the Academic Council and conducts research into how forces such as wind and earthquakes affect bridges and other structures.

But despite these demands, in the eyes of his students Jones is still making the grade. He recently received one the Engineering School's Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards. It was the third teaching award Jones has collected since he joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in January 1986.

In nominating him for the 2001 award, one student declared, "He is certainly the best teacher I've had in my lifetime."

Another said, "He is a great lecturer, always available to answer questions, and he challenges you to think."

Jones accepted the honor with a mixture of surprise and relief. "I've had a very busy couple of years," he says. "I was concerned about the impact on my teaching, so I was very pleased to receive this."

Although a strong emphasis on research exists at Johns Hopkins, Jones believes the school has no shortage of fine classroom instructors. "In our department, in the Engineering School and I hope in the university as a whole, the faculty members we're looking to hire are people who are not only great scholars but are also natural teachers," he says. "They like the thrill and the excitement of sharing new knowledge with the next generation."

Jones earned his own bachelor's degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, then moved on to the California Institute of Technology for his master's and doctoral degrees, both in civil engineering.

After more than a decade of teaching at Hopkins, Jones' approach has changed a bit. "I used to think it was more important to have separate lecture and lab courses," he says. "But I now lean more toward courses where these are integrated. Where I can, I like to add some hands-on experience."

In recent years, he has been teaching undergraduate classes in structural engineering lab and dynamics. "I love teaching Dynamics," he says, describing it as a course in "how things move and what makes them move."

He adds, "I like watching the students transition from simple things to more complex problems. At the beginning of the course, the students are looking at particles, but by the end they're studying engines. That's a fun voyage to take people on."

--Phil Sneiderman

S. Rao Kosaraju

When S. Rao Kosaraju, a professor of computer science, learned he would get one of this year's Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards for engineering educators, he suspected a mistake had been made. After all, Kosaraju had received the same award just two years ago.

"Usually there is a time interval between winning these types of awards," he said. "But they assured me that the students insisted on choosing me again. I was totally surprised."

His students, who admire Kosaraju's teaching skills and his willingness to provide individual help, were probably less surprised that he was singled out for this honor.

"I took computational models with Dr. Kosaraju, and this guy is awesome," said one student who nominated Kosaraju. "He is truly a phenomenal professor."

Another student added, "The man is a bona fide genius, but unlike most genius professors, he is truly interested in his students' learning."

Kosaraju himself sees nothing unusual about his devotion to teaching. "We collect a huge amount of tuition," he says, "so I tell my colleagues that we should do everything we can to make sure the students get a first-rate education at Hopkins."

But providing personal attention can be tough in an unusually large class such as computational models. Each fall, the course typically attracts more than 100 students with varying levels of computer skills.

Kosaraju, who holds the title of Edward J. Schaefer Professor of Engineering, goes the extra mile by scheduling an optional fourth hourlong meeting of the class each week for students who need additional help. He also provides extra help via e-mail and one-on-one meetings with his students.

"My feeling is that you don't really need to help the super-prepared students," he says. "The challenge is to teach the students who are very bright but are not well-tuned to this subject matter. Your skill is needed to get them excited about this topic."

The computational modeling class helps engineering and nonengineering students understand the theory of computing and teaches them to identify which tasks can and cannot be handled by computer.

Kosaraju, who earned his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, has been a Hopkins faculty member since 1969, except for a stint at Purdue during the 1986-87 school year. He returned the next year to join Hopkins' newly established Department of Computer Science and recently took over as chair. He is one of the department's primary computer theorists, specializing in applied algorithms.

Despite his years of experience in the field, Kosaraju says he still enjoys learning from his students. "You go into the class knowing there is only one right way to solve a problem," he says. "Then, when you talk about it with the students, you come to see that there are different ways of attacking it. You find out there are entirely different types of thinking."

--Phil Sneiderman