Glassman honored with Teaching Distinction Award

Physics professor Jack Glassman was named to a Teaching Distinction Award for 2013-2014 by the university. He said being enthusiastic and passionate about what you teach makes a difference for students. Photo courtesy of Glassman.

Physics professor Jack Glassman is a 2013-2014 recipient of the university’s Teaching Distinction Award.

Glassman said he is “very happy and honored” about the recognition and finds his role fulfilling.

“If I can change the way somebody sees the universe–if I change the way they interact with the world around them–then that is a really profound and very satisfying achievement,” Glassman said.

Junior pre-pharmacy student Victoria Thurmond, who is taking her third course with Glassman, said she has retained the history, math and concepts of physics he taught her in a subject she once hated but now enjoys.

“Honestly I’ve probably learned more from professor Glassman than any other instructor in my academic career. He’s just an all-around good teacher,” Thurmond said. “I like his teaching style. I’ve retained everything.”

Glassman teaches physics courses consisting mainly of non-majors within their first two years of undergraduate studies. Glassman said he aims to make the subject “accessible to people who really don’t have a strong background in it.”

“The first thing you need in order to be a good teacher is you need to acknowledge the level that your student is at. Ideally you would have true empathy for the student…,” Glassman said. “Recognize that their lack of training, lack of knowledge, lack of ability in the subject is the starting point, and it’s not the ending point, and you work toward them having knowledge and understanding and having the ability to think critically and having skills they didn’t have before they walked into the classroom.”

Glassman, according to Thurmond, is “very well-spoken, very captivating,” and knows how to get the information across without “making your brain numb.”

“I think [Glassman’s award] is well-deserved and pretty awesome,” Thurmond said. “Without a doubt, he is one of my best instructors.”

Glassman said to be effective in teaching “you have to love it—you have to be passionate.”

“Students know when the teacher is disinterested, bored or uncaring-and that can be uncaring about the subject or uncaring about the students,” Glassman said. “You have to actually enjoy the subject to begin with, actually enjoy the teaching of the subject, you have to enjoy the process.”

Physics Department Chair Abdullatif Hamad, who nominated him, said Glassman’s “dedication, enthusiasm, unyielding academic standards and extremely high expectations of himself and his students” made him stand out.

“The physics department and I are very proud of his Teaching Distinction Award and we are fortunate to have Professor Glassman among our physics faculty,” Hamad said.

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