The 2004 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching
Just like coaches on a playing field, teachers
sometimes draw on motivational techniques and a hands-on
approach to get the most out of their students. The goal is
knowledge. The opponent, unrealized potential.
Since 1992, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association has
recognized university faculty who excel in the art of
instruction with its Excellence in Teaching Awards. The
award allows each academic division of the university to
publicly recognize the critical importance of teaching.
The Alumni Association annually 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 differ by school, but
students must be involved in the selection process.
The following faculty members are recipients of the
2004 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards.
JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC
Ron Brookmeyer, professor, Biostatistics; medium-size
Ron Brookmeyer, Public
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
Ron Brookmeyer gets up suddenly from behind his desk,
strides to the white board on his office wall and with a
marker writes What is statistics? Without thinking, a
visitor immediately writes What is statistics? in a
"See? You wrote it down," says Brookmeyer, a professor
of biostatistics, who just won his third Golden Apple
Award, as the alumni award is called in the School of
Public Health. "And you were probably thinking, 'Hmmm?
What's next?' If you're taking notes from the blackboard,
from the discussion, you take ownership of the material
— it's in your handwriting."
Although he now uses computer simulations and the
occasional PowerPoint presentation to teach complicated
statistical concepts, Brookmeyer, who has been teaching at
the school since 1981, still waxes enthusiastic about the
"There's a participation that occurs when you're
working through your lecture together with the class. With
the blackboard, everybody's on a level playing field,
interactive. With PowerPoint, there's not the engagement or
interaction — you'd have read the What is statistics?
slide and said, 'I'll get the handout.' "
Everything Brookmeyer does in class is aimed at
grabbing his students' attention and making sure that the
technical concepts he's explaining are made real for them.
"It's too easy to hang your hat on a formula," he says.
"You have to explain, in a way that's grounded in common
sense, why they're using that formula. Equations are
helpful, but students need to have a gut understanding of
them. Otherwise, the teacher is just hiding behind the
Students must internalize biostatistical concepts if
they are ever going to be able to apply a statistical
method to new situations, he says. "If the student is only
able to plug data into a formula, that's just a cookbook; a
computer can do that," explains Brookmeyer, who chairs the
school's Master of Public Health Program. "But a computer
can't see how you can apply an old concept in a new way.
The teacher is always trying to show the overall
architecture of the ideas."
And there's an optimal architecture for every message.
"There are lots of messages out there, and the instructor's
job is not to compress more and more information into a
short time or convey a sea of information but rather to
show what's important, what's not, and build to that
Finally, Brookmeyer stresses that all teachers must
find their own style, the classroom manner that feels most
comfortable. "You can't fake it or force it," he says.
"Don't try to be something you're not because what works
for some won't work for others. For instance, some are
great at humor ... me, I can't tell a joke."
The Department of Biostatistics offers three unique
biostatistics curricula. An introductory course gives
people the conceptual understanding they'll need to read
scientific papers and tell whether the methods employed in
a study are appropriate. The mid-level course, more
practical and hands-on, is for those who want to analyze
their own data. The most intense and theoretical of the
three, and the one for which Brookmeyer just won the Golden
Apple, is for those who aim to become professional
— Rod Graham
Thomas Burke, professor, Health Policy and Management;
Thomas Burke, Public
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
For Thomas Burke, winning this year's Golden Apple was
a great honor because it represents recognition from the
students. He views teaching as his "fundamental calling,"
and it was the main reason he left a career in government
years ago as a public health official for the state of New
Jersey. Since joining the School of Public Health in 1990,
Burke has received three Golden Apple awards for his
teaching. The latest is for his introductory course on risk
"This was a total surprise, but a wonderful surprise,"
says Burke, who is a professor of Health Policy and
Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It is
great to be recognized by the students, and it's so great
to teach here because the students are so engaged and
motivated. They are the public health leaders of the
Burke teaches Introduction to Risk Science, which is
the principal tool to assess public health risks and turn
that assessment into effective strategies and public
policies. To motivate students, Burke designs the course
around case studies of current public health problems and
issues. This year, students examined the environmental
health impacts of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center
in New York City.
In addition to teaching, Burke serves as associate
chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management. He
also directs the Center for Excellence in Public Health
Practice, the Center for Excellence in Environmental Health
Tracking and the Risk Sciences and Public Policy
— Tim Parsons
John McGready, instructor, Biostatistics; large-size
John McGready, Public
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
John McGready, this year's winner of the Golden Apple
teaching award for the large-sized class category, says he
never planned on being a teacher.
Instead, McGready, an instructor in the Department of
Biostatistics at the Bloom-berg School of Public Health,
began his statistical career working as a quantitative
policy analyst at a public policy institute after
graduating from Harvard. It was there that he realized what
he liked doing most. "What I really enjoyed was
communicating with my colleagues and with other agencies,"
he says. "I wanted to up the communication component of
what I did."
Teaching, he says, was the next logical step.
After teaching math at a Washington, D.C., high school
for a year, McGready stumbled upon an ad on the American
Statistical Association Web site for his current Department
of Biostatistics position. "It was just serendipity," he
says. "I never went to that site."
That was five years ago, and this is McGready's second
Golden Apple. He won his first in 2001, for the
medium-sized class category. "Teaching a large class
requires more coordination, more energy, more assistance
and more time," he says. McGready also won the Teaching
Award for Excellence in Distance Education, as voted upon
by distance education students, in 2001.
This year's Golden Apple is for McGready's Statistical
Reasoning in Public Health class, which he teaches both on
campus and online. In addition to time spent teaching class
and with students in office hours, McGready spends much of
his day answering e-mail from students. The e-mail, he
says, is especially important for online students, since it
is the only way to get to know them.
"I like interaction with students from different
backgrounds. I love turning them on to something they can
make germane to what they're working on. I try to explain
things in ways that are as intuitive as possible," he says.
"Also, teaching keeps my own understanding high," he says.
How high? Ever the statistician, Mc-Gready adds, "I
can't quantify how much learning and relearning I've done
in the five years I've been at the school."
— Kristi Birch
KRIEGER SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Jeffrey Brooks, professor, History Department
Jeffrey Brooks, Arts and
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
Jeffrey Brooks was one of 18 faculty members in the
Krieger School to be nominated for an Excellence in
Teaching Award this year, a field that was narrowed to 10
and from which the selection committee chose Brooks.
"One of the things that was really striking was how
broad a group the recommendations came from," says Adam
Falk, vice dean of faculty and a past winner of an
Excellence in Teaching Award. The nominations for Brooks
came from history majors and nonmajors, from undergraduates
and from graduate students. "They all spoke of his intense
commitment to them personally," Falk says. "He brought out
in all of them their best abilities."
All those nominating Brooks noted how he managed to
help them find the perfect academic project to work on,
because he took time to get to know them. "What you see
with Professor Brooks is an appreciation for a teaching
style focused on relationships," Falk says. "He really got
to know his students, not only as people but
One student who nominated Brooks wrote that he
"masterfully combined close attention to his students' work
progress, vigorous training in research and analysis, and
encouragement to become an independent scholar capable of
choosing one's own agenda and carrying it out."
"I believe that his loyalty to students is his
greatest strength as a mentor," wrote another student,
recommending Brooks for the award.
Another wrote, "He loves his job, and he loves working
with students. Hopkins is very lucky to have such a
brilliant mind and genuinely wonderful person."
— Glenn Small
Also recognized by the Krieger School for their
skills in the classroom were teaching assistants Caline
Karam, Biology; Lars Tonder, Political Science; and Mike
JoAnn Kulesza, music director, Opera Department
JoAnn Kulesza, Peabody
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
"If I had to pick one person on the Peabody campus
that has made the greatest contribution to my development
as a professional musician and performer, it would be
JoAnn." Thus began the flood of accolades for JoAnn
Kulesza, this year's recipient for the Excellence in
Kulesza has been a member of the Peabody faculty since
1990. As music director of the Peabody Opera Department,
she has been principal coach for productions ranging from
Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio to Wagner's Walkure,
from Weil's Three Penny Opera to Zimmermann's Die Weisse
Rose, not only coaching but also conducting the latter two.
Her experience and creativity have taken her into
leadership roles as chair of the faculty assembly, the
Self-Report Committee for the National Association of
Schools of Music and the Peabody Committee on Community,
Cooperation and Civility. She freely gives of her time and
energy as a member of these and every other committee on
which she serves.
About her teaching philosophy, Kulesza says she
believes "people live up to the level of expectation that
is given to them" and that she tries to get students to
give "the best that they can give and they can be." For
example, she says, "Music has an integrity in what the
composer wanted," and she doesn't let students lose that
integrity just because they are students. "I tell students
to get to what the composer intended."
When asked about her enthusiasm for volunteering for
nonteaching tasks, she responds, "Peabody is a wonderful
environment. I believe in a holistic approach to the place,
students and faculty. There is no obstacle that can't be
moved with a positive expectation."
To her students, she is not just a provider of
information but a mentor, role model and friend. They know,
Kulesza says, "that excellence in performance is not just
desired but mandatory." At the same time, students
commented that they are grateful that Kulesza is
"organized, efficient, concerned for the well-being of the
students AND a good musician ... a rare combination." She
is "not only artistically and musically phenomenal but also
a human being who truly cares for all students in the Opera
— Kirsten Lavin
SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL
To be announced at commencement.
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Theodore M. Bayless, professor, Gastroenterology
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
For Theodore "Ted" Bayless, his ultimate goal in
teaching is to encourage patient-oriented care,
communication and research.
With humanity and reflection, he teaches students,
fellows, junior faculty and even — he might say
"above all" — patients. Taking more time than most
physicians can spare, Bayless teaches his patients about
their disease and its causes, and trainees learn how to
interact with patients by watching him.
"The first question I ask of patients is, 'What can I
do to help?' and then, 'What else should I know about?'"
Bayless says. As a result of this dedication, patients
routinely ask if someone can "clone" him.
Bayless, professor of medicine and director of the
Meyerhoff Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, has influenced
medical education for four decades at Johns Hopkins. He
first got hooked on teaching in the 1960s, when friends who
were house officers asked him to give a couple of guest
lectures. Those lectures led to his co-founding of Hopkins'
Human Pathophysiology course in 1977. He also has
coordinated the basic medical clerkship and curriculum for
many years and is co-director of the continuing medical
education course Topics in Gastroenterology and Liver
His influence extends beyond Hopkins, as he has edited
11 books for practicing physicians and developed
audio-visual teaching materials now used in more than 100
medical schools. "I try to teach as many people as
possible, even if it's not in person," he says.
Bayless says that he appreciates the Alumni
Association's recognition of a commitment to teaching,
which usually comes at the expense of a doctor's family
"I was very lucky to have started my career at a time
when clinicians had more time to balance teaching, research
and patient care," says Bayless, who adds that he's honored
to be among the excellent teachers — past and present
— recognized by the Excellence in Teaching Awards.
"Today, junior faculty almost have to choose between
laboratory-focused research or medical practice with a
heavy patient roster, but awards that focus on education
can encourage junior faculty and fellows to make time to
He advises the graduating medical school class of 2004
to develop relationships with their patients, to listen,
learn and educate. "Understand why people have particular
symptoms, know which medicines are going to work best and
collaborate with basic researchers," he says. "Ask
— Diane Bovenkamp
SCHOOL OF NURSING
Susan Appling, assistant professor; baccalaureate
Lori Edwards, Sue Appling and
Gayle Page, Nursing
PHOTO BY MING TAI
Susan Appling, a 1973 graduate of the School of
Nursing, is now an assistant professor and a nurse
practitioner in the Breast Center of The Johns Hopkins
Hospital. She teaches Principles and Applications of
Nursing Technologies and often can be found moving quickly
back and forth between the school's three skills labs,
where her baccalaureate students practice essential nursing
tasks on manikin "patients." Appling monitors the large
group of students as they learn what she describes as the
"soup to nuts" of nursing — everything from baths to
Appling has the pleasure — and challenge —
of working with students from the very beginning of their
nursing education. "They're anxious and excited," she says.
"I'm teaching the things they classically think of as
nursing, though, and it's definitely a hands-on experience,
so it's not a hard sell."
Working with the new students requires great skill and
compassion, and according to her students, Appling has
both, earning her her fourth teaching award in her 20 years
of teaching. Her students describe her as "warm, welcoming
and sensitive to students" and credit her for "bolstering
... confidence and demonstrating great patience, humor and
Appling says she feels her job is to work with her
students' strengths, and when she sees their limitations,
to help them strategize ways to overcome them. "By the end
of the course, I want my students to meet the objectives
and learn what they need to know. The bottom line is to get
them there but also to have fun, so hopefully they get
there feeling good about themselves."
— Ming Tai
Lori Edwards, instructor; baccalaureate level
One of Lori Edwards' greatest joys of teaching is to
hear from her former students about their lives after
graduation and to find out that she helped them to see the
world in a different way. Many alumni contact her after
graduation, but her students this year didn't wait to show
their appreciation. In April, their nominations earned
Edwards a faculty teaching award.
Edwards teaches students through several courses,
including the popular Complementary/Alternative Health Care
elective, and as coordinator of the school's Community
Outreach Program and Peace Corps Fellows Program. Students
report that she takes the time to get to know them and
"reaches out to and meets each of her students at their
level in a sincere and very heartfelt manner."
She displays a deep commitment to the community as
well. "Our returned Peace Corps volunteers have worked in
remote villages around the world," she explains. "Through
community outreach, I help transition them into working in
an urban environment." Before placing the students in East
Baltimore and the surrounding neighborhoods, she makes sure
they have a clear perspective of the community. "That's my
commitment to the community."
One of Edwards' life goals is to help people and to
inspire them to grow. Her philosophy on teaching is
similar. "Teaching is facilitating students on their
journey of becoming," she says. "It is inspiring students
and leading them to realize their fullest potential.
"We have the best students," she adds. "So it is a
wonderful joy to teach them and share the journey with
Her students have called Edwards "an inspiration to
Dominique Ashen, assistant professor; graduate
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
Dominique Ashen wasn't expecting to be named a
recipient of this year's faculty teaching awards. "It was a
wonderful surprise," she says.
Ashen, an assistant professor, teaches pathophysiology
to nurse practitioner students. She works with a diverse
group of about 40 students, some of whom have been nurses
for a while, others who are coming straight from the
baccalaureate program to earn their master's and all with
different experiences and different goals.
"Pathophysiology is a difficult class. There is a lot
of information to learn and integrate, but the students are
very bright and motivated. They are also very oriented to
patient care," she notes. "My goal is to help them think at
a more cellular and molecular level so that they can
understand the basis of disease and the basis of
Students consider Ashen an excellent role model
professionally and academically and cite her "enthusiasm to
teach, enhanced by her excellent knowledge of the
A nurse practitioner herself, Ashen spends 60 percent
of her time in clinical practice at the Johns Hopkins
Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. She
practices both at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center and
Johns Hopkins Heart Health at Timonium. "I've always loved
to teach, and I love clinical as well," she says. "I am
very lucky I have been given the opportunity to do
Gayle Page, associate professor; graduate level
Gayle Page works closely with doctoral candidates on
their research and teaches small-size classes such as
Philosophy of Science in Nursing. "The interesting thing
about teaching Ph.D. students is that we're on equal
playing fields, so it really is more of an exchange," says
Page, an associate professor. "I learn as much from my
students as they learn from me."
Page's own research is in the effects of pain on the
immune system. Recent studies have shown the importance of
controlling pain in postoperative cancer patients to reduce
tumor growth. Her current investigations delve into the
implications of perinatal and postnatal pain.
Page's goal for her students is for them not only to
think but to be able to support what they think. She
acknowledges that that can be perceived as quite
challenging. "I like to challenge my students," she says,
"so that I can see the wheels churning."
Her students tend to appreciate that challenge. One
noted that Page "walks the fine line between the dual
missions of accepting students for who they are yet never
allowing them to be less than they can be." Another said
she "displays a discerning eye for the unique gifts of
every student and does everything in her power to
facilitate students' achieving their full potential."
Page possesses another attribute so important in
teaching doctoral students. Said another student, "She
fosters a true passion and excitement for nursing
SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS AND
Ann Kaiser Stearns, Division of Public Safety
Ann Kaiser Stearns,
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
Ann Kaiser Stearns is in the business of resilience
— specifically human resilience — and how
people overcome and learn from episodes of crisis and loss
in their lives.
Kaiser Stearns, with a master of divinity degree from
Duke University and a doctorate from Union Institute &
University, is in her 34th year of college teaching. She is
a professor at the Community College of Baltimore County
and teaches for CCBC at the Baltimore County Police
Academy. For SPSBE's Police Executive Leadership Program,
known as PELP, she has taught 10 separate courses,
including Developmental Psychology and Theories of
"My goal is to take the skills and concepts of
psychology and make them work in public service," Kaiser
Stearns says. "It's been my experience that the police
officers with the best self-understanding and insight into
human behavior make the most effective public servants and
leaders within their forces."
The bulk of Kaiser Stearns' research has been in the
areas of crisis and resilience, specifically studying those
individuals who have faced adversity in their lives and who
have subsequently grown through it. Law enforcement
personnel face "more exposure to extreme events and
resultant stress in the first three years of their careers
than most people do in their entire lives," she points
Kaiser Stearns is the best-selling author of three
books, Living Through Personal Crisis, Coming Back:
Rebuilding Lives After Crisis and Loss and Living Through
Job Loss. Her most recent research on grief management,
published in The Maryland Psychologist, includes "Trauma
Aftermath: Who is Really at Risk?" and "Resilience in the
Aftermath of Trauma and Adversity."
Other recent research centers on the traits police and
other emergency responders possess, how they make decisions
and what perspectives and attitudes most lead to effective
resilience. Components in resiliency that she continues to
study include the importance of emotional and community
support, feeling needed and the importance of work, finding
meaning in suffering, and the strength conveyed through a
sense of faith.
"I find my classes with PELP's police executives most
rewarding and interesting, she says. "Hopkins students are
highly motivated, possess great integrity and represent law
enforcement leaders from across the state of Maryland as
well as Washington, D.C., and other nearby jurisdictions. I
definitely learn as much from them as they do from me. The
longer I interact with police officers, the more I continue
Sheldon Greenberg, director of the Division of Public
Safety Leadership, says, "Ann continually receives
excellent reviews from her students. Her dedication to the
law enforcement profession is evidenced by her extensive
work with a number of regional and police departments and
the Concerns of Police Survivors Organizations. This work
directly supports the mental well-being of officers and
— Andy Blumberg
Deborah Fagan, Graduate Division of Education
Deborah Fagan, SPSBE
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
Deborah Fagan, who has been teaching since 1974,
continues to give back to Johns Hopkins.
In 1991, she was selected as a recipient for a Hopkins
federally funded grant program focusing on inclusion for
students with disabilities. She graduated from the Graduate
Division of Education in 1993 with a master's degree in
Special Education, then began teaching as a faculty
Ten years later, Fagan is still teaching in the
division's Mild to Moderate Disabilities and Inclusion
programs. She currently teaches three courses:
Instructional Planning and Management in Special Education,
Learning Strategies and Differentiating the Secondary
Curriculum for Students with Mild to Moderate
Fagan's teaching career, which has included 14 years
in the Montgomery County public school system, has always
involved special education. "I always wanted to teach kids
who faced additional challenges," she says. "It proved very
fulfilling to me, plus I found that I had discovered a
niche area for my talents. Now that I am teaching others
the same skills that I learned and practice, it seems to
complete the circle."
From 1996 to 1999, Fagan was co-director of the
Special Education Teacher-Immersion Training partnership
between Hopkins and Montgomery County. The county school
system hired Hopkins special education degree students as
teaching assistants, then, upon the completion of their
studies, promoted them to special education teachers.
In 1999, Fagan became one of a handful of pupil
personnel workers for Montgomery County public schools,
acting as a liaison between pupils, their families, the
schools and the community. Her experiences in the position,
she says, enrich her teaching.
"I find my Hopkins students are a pleasure to teach,"
Fagan says. "They bring many different backgrounds into the
classroom. Many times these people have already had very
successful careers in business, law or other areas, but
they've always had a passion to teach. They're not
ambivalent about it."
Edward Pajak, associate dean and director of the
Graduate Division of Education, says, "Deborah consistently
receives outstanding course evaluations. However, more than
any numeric score on course evaluations are the comments
that have become standard in describing how her teaching
impacts graduate students' learning — and the
educational experiences they, in turn, provide for students
Catherine Morrison, Graduate Division of Business
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
The cornerstone of Catherine Morrison's academic
career was cemented in place by her experience on a factory
assembly line, a summer job she held to finance part of her
undergraduate education. "I learned that I liked to see
things come together, and that a disagreement between
workers anywhere on the assembly line can disrupt
production for the entire plant," she recalls. This
interest would develop into a lifelong study of mediation,
conflict management and negotiation skills for the
practitioner faculty member in the Business of Health's MBA
in Medical Services Management program.
In 1981, while working at the University of Texas
Medical Branch as the administrator for a microbiology
department, she had what she describes as a turning point.
"I loved the complexity of working in an academic medical
center. I wasn't destined to develop a vaccine for cholera,
but every administrative or financial problem that I solved
for one of the faculty freed them up to work on things that
really could potentially change the world," she says. "I
Morrison was also noticing how academic medicine
frequently intersected with law. It was then that she had a
"career epiphany." Believing that lawyers were going to be
the future administrative leaders in health care
management, Morrison headed to law school at the University
of Pennsylvania. She concentrated on transactional law,
learning the legal equivalent of what had captured her
interest on the assembly line — "what it took to make
After three years practicing transactional law,
Morrison joined the University of Maryland at Baltimore's
academic health, human services and law campus, where she
managed consulting groups that provided IT, internal audit
and management consulting services; served as an adviser to
the vice president for administration on policy, planning
and contractual matters; and assumed management
responsibilities for affirmative action and human resources
At that time, she began to consider what additional
skills she would need to become a senior leader at an
academic health center. In particular, she sought to gain
experience in clinical management. She learned about a
position as director of administration and finance for the
Department of Pediatrics at Penn State's Milton S. Hershey
Medical Center, and while she was interviewing for the
position, which she ultimately took, the chair of the
Humanities Department in the College of Medicine approached
her about the possibility of teaching part time. "So the
two opportunities came together," she says.
By then, 1993, the escalating costs of health care had
become a national issue, and the use of mediation in health
care was in its early stages. Morrison says she was
intrigued. She "fell in love with conflict management," she
says, during a course in general mediation at the
University of New Mexico Law School. In 1997, she founded
Morrison Associates, a consulting practice providing
strategic advice, negotiation and conflict management.
For the Business of Health's MBA in Medical Services
Management Program, Morrison teaches its required course in
negotiation. She also teaches a similar course for the
Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg
School of Public Health.
"I love working with SPSBE students," Morrison says.
"I'm so impressed with their energy levels and commitment.
These are people on the front lines of leadership in the
medical field, and we're helping to equip them with the
latest tools they need to do their jobs even more
effectively. We constantly learn from each other."
Douglas Hough, chair of the Business of Health, says,
"Catherine's course evaluations have been exemplary. Her
extraordinary combination of skill, experience and caring
shows in every aspect of her teaching."
George Scheper, Division of Undergraduate Studies
George Scheper, SPSBE
PHOTO BY WILL KIRK
George Scheper remembers the first third of his career
as an English professor, happily teaching "traditional"
courses in literature. Then an event happened that, he
recalls, "changed my life."
That event was a 1977 project grant in
interdisciplinary studies from the American Association for
Higher Education. "It transformed me from a 'typical'
English professor to an interdisciplinary humanities
academic," he says. In turn, with a grant from the National
Endowment for the Humanities, he was able to establish the
humanities program he coordinates at the Community College
of Baltimore County.
Scheper, who earned his doctorate from Princeton, has
been teaching for more than 20 years at SPSBE, where he is
a faculty associate in the Bachelor of Science in
Interdisciplinary Studies program.
Scheper says he looks at the subject matter he teaches
as always interdisciplinary in nature in the sense that
what is taught "needs a richer context to be fully
appreciated, so my students can visualize the subject
matter in a more complex, as well as relevant, social
context." His courses have covered a wide range of topics,
including comparative religion; Renaissance Florence; the
Bible and literature; religion and literature; and religion
and art. During his tenure he also has done extensive
research on ancient American civilizations, including
Meso-American and particularly Mayan culture.
In all, he has received seven grants from the National
Endowment for the Humanities, taking 24 college instructors
at a time to Mexico and Guatemala for six-week seminars
that explore archaeological sites, ancient ruins,
contemporary traditional villages, schools and
universities. "It introduces new areas of the curriculum
for us to share among ourselves and with our students."
Scheper says he defines himself as a teacher-scholar.
"There is a phrase from Chaucer — 'gladly learn, and
gladly teach' — that mirrors my philosophy quite
nicely," he says.
Toni Ungaretti, dean of the division, shares some
comments from some of Scheper's students: "Can we have a
Dr. Scheper University?" "I have never worked so hard or
learned so much." "Never let him go."
"These quotes from student evaluations reflect
George's impact on our undergraduate students," Ungaretti
says. "George is a distinguished scholar in ancient
American civilizations, a dedicated faculty member in
Interdisciplinary Studies and a beloved teacher of his
students. He consistently contributes to efforts to ensure
that excellence is the hallmark of our Interdisciplinary
WHITING SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
Louis Whitcomb, associate professor, Mechanical
PHOTO BY JAY VANRENSSELAER
In the classroom, Louis Whitcomb, associate professor
in the Whiting School's Department of Mechanical
Engineering, must be doing something right. For the second
time in four years, he's been honored for his teaching
One of the students who supported his selection for a
2004 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award said
Whitcomb's "interest, enthusiasm and, most importantly, his
ability to incite that same interest and excitement in his
students make him worthy of this award."
Another student added, "He encourages participation in
class, is outwardly cheerful, clear in his teaching and
extremely approachable. I had gone to his office a number
of times ready to give up on a number of things, and
through his encouragement and advice, always left with a
new sense of determination."
In 2001, when Whitcomb received the Student Council
Excellence in Teaching Award within the Whiting School, he
was similarly hailed for his enthusiasm as an instructor
and his devotion to students.
Whitcomb, whose specialties include control systems
for undersea vehicles and medical robotics, has been
participating in a research mission at sea most of this
month, so he was unreachable for comment on this newest
accolade. When he received his 2001 teaching honor,
however, he expressed mild discomfort at being singled out
for his instructional skills. "I think there are a lot of
people at Hopkins who are more deserving," he said. "Within
Mechanical Engineering alone, we have a lot of awesome
teachers." Regarding his enthusiastic teaching style,
Whitcomb said, "If you're not excited about the subject
you're researching and teaching, you should get another
job. If you're interested in the material and you show it,
then the students will be interested, too."
In 2002, Whitcomb obtained funding for and oversaw the
construction of a 43,000-gallon testing tank lab in
Maryland Hall for developing oceanographic research
technology. Whitcomb, who collaborates with the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution, involves undergraduates and
graduate students in projects within the new lab.
He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1995.
— Phil Sneiderman
Also recognized by the Whiting School for his skills in
the classroom was teaching assistant Simil Roupe,
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