Experience is the best teacher. The faculty members who received the 2007 John S. Diekhoff Award for graduate teaching at Case Western Reserve University are indicative of the adage, as they have been recognized many times for their effectiveness in the classroom and their ability to connect with and engage students.
Richard Boyatzis, professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management, and Richard Hanson, Leonard and Jean Skeggs Professor of Biochemistry, will receive the Diekhoff Award during Commencement on Sunday, May 20 at the Veale Convocation, Recreation, and Athletic Center.
A committee of graduate and professional program students selected these faculty members based on nominations from students enrolled in the university's graduate-level disciplines.
Boyatzis believes students have their own learning rhythms and will learn when and what they want to learn. "A teacher can't force them to learn." Tapping into that rhythm is one of the skills of a successful teacher, he adds.
"Some students learn the main message of a course early, most by the middle of class, and unfortunately some won't get it until their final paper, but at least at some point they become engaged. Engaging the student is the key to their learning."
He draws from his experiences as a psychologist, therapist and best-selling coauthor of Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence and Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting With Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion (2002, Harvard Business School Press). He joined the Weatherhead School faculty in 1987 and teaches courses on executive coaching, leadership and leading change in a complex world.
His classes encompass a range of learners and learning styles that include life experiences of students who can range from management executives with years of experience to 30-something M.B.As. To ensure each student benefits, he incorporates presentations, small group discussions, classroom exercises, and inductive and deductive activities and makes the information relevant to the student's personal experiences.
Boyatzis is a "triple crown" winner, having won university awards in research, service and teaching. This is his third nomination for the Diekhoff Award. His other honors include the Weatherhead Theodore M. Alfred Distinguished Service Award (1996), the Weatherhead Research Award (1999), Weatherhead Alumni Association David Bowers Faculty Service Award (2002), and the Weatherhead Executive Education Teaching Award (2003).
In addition to teaching, he is an adjunct professor at ESADE in Barcelona, Spain. He is a regular lecturer at many American universities, as well as the London Business School and ALBA, formerly the Athens Laboratory in Business Administration, in Athens.
Hanson, who has taught biochemistry for about 35 years at the School of Medicine, has inspired thousands of budding physicians, as biochemistry is the first required course medical students take.
During his visits to the doctor in Cleveland, he usually encounters at least one of his former students. "At my age, you tend to visit the doctor more," he says. "I'm always hearing, 'Dr. Hanson do you remember…'"
The fact many of his former students recognize him and thank him for the impact he has made on their lives and careers remains one of the most rewarding aspects of his teaching experience. "I am honored, indeed, to receive the 2007 Diekhoff Award, since it is based on the evaluation the graduate students," Hanson says.
He likens teaching to taking center state in the theater. The challenge of capturing and holding the attention of his audience—the students—is what he says keeps him young and enthusiastic. Each class responds differently, he says, so the goal is to make a complex subject interesting for students who do not aspire to be biochemists.
Medical students have regularly rated the biochemistry course among the best taught in the entire medical curriculum. Hanson believes the attention to detail and a dedicated biochemistry teaching team has made the course successful. "It is unusual to find so many committed physicians who teach the clinical basis for learning basic science to medical students," Hanson says of his colleagues.
The biochemistry course is part of an organ-based committee approach to teaching medicine established more than 50 years ago at the medical school, he says. Biochemistry is the foundation for other courses and prepares students to deal with issues in their clinical training.
Hanson teaches biochemistry throughout the fall semester, not just to medical students but also to undergraduate and graduate students in an introductory biochemistry course and to School of Dental Medicine students.
Hanson's distinguished teaching career also includes the mentoring of more than 80 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting faculty. Many of his students and fellows have themselves gone on to establish outstanding careers in academia, medicine and industry. One of his former graduate students, Shirley M. Tilghman, is president of Princeton University and another, Jay Short (GRS '87, biochemistry), was the CEO of the Diversa Corporation, a publicly traded biotechnology company.
Over the years, he has received numerous teaching awards including the Kaiser Permanente Award for Excellence in Student Teaching, an honor presented to an outstanding teacher during the medical school's diploma ceremony. In 2001, he received the university's highest honor, the Hovorka Prize, for exceptional achievement in teaching, research and scholarly service that benefits the community, the nation and the world. Hanson was cited for his research in metabolic regulation and gene therapy.
The Diekhoff Award honors John S. Diekhoff, who served Case Western Reserve University in several capacities during his tenure, from 1956 to 1970. He was professor of English, chair of the Department of English, dean of Cleveland College, acting dean of the School of Graduate Studies and vice provost of the university.
The Diekhoff Award, established in 1978, was first given the same year. It recognizes outstanding contributions to the education of graduate students through advising and classroom teaching. The annual award is presented to two full-time faculty members who epitomize what it means to mentor graduate students: to connect then with experts in their discipline, engage them academically in a forthright and collegial manner and actively promote their professional development. A committee of graduate and professional program students reviews nominations and recommends winners.
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