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The Nominees for Waldorf’s 2018 Professor of the Year

Past winners of the Alpha Chi Professor of the Year Award are honored on a plaque in the Waldorf Atrium. Photo courtesy of Diana Humble

By: Diana Humble

Every year the students of Waldorf University’s Alpha Chi National Honor Society select professors that are exceptional in their field and nominate them for the honor of Professor of the Year. This year, the nominees could be whittled to no fewer than seven: Cathleen Bascom in religion and philosophy, Ryan Clark in English and creative writing, Julienne Friday in sociology and psychology, Tiffany Olson and Mark Newcom in Communications, Aaron Puhrmann in Criminal Justice, and Sheila Willms in Education. The student body has voted on the winner, and eagerly awaits the results.

“I’m surprised! Can’t believe it! I think there are many, many [professors] who do a great job around here. It’s not something I would’ve ever anticipated or expected, but I’m honored.” said Mark Newcom of his nomination.

Ryan Clark was nominated in his second year as assistant professor at Waldorf University. He said that “it’s definitely a huge honor. It makes me very happy to hear that students think of me in a positive light. Students were the number one reason I wanted to come to Waldorf. The close relationships professors can form with students are crucial, and in creative writing it’s so important to have a mentor relationship with students.  You need to be able to know your student, know your writer, and work with them in very close, detailed ways to watch them grow. That’s been so rewarding for me, because that’s literally why I’m here.”

“You wonder when you teach whether you’re connecting [with students] and if what you’re teaching matters. I was surprised and so encouraged that material I’m passionate about connects with lively new thinkers and leaders. I love being in the classroom!” said nominee Cathleen Bascom.

Tiffany Olson said “I’ve been nominated multiple times for this award, so it’s exciting whenever I get nominated. There’s a lot of great professors on campus, so it makes competition good. [Being nominated by students] makes you feel like you’re doing your job well, and finding out you’ve been given that type of honor is special.”

Reigning professor of the year Dave Damm had some words of wisdom for the award’s next recipient. “Be humble, enjoy it and take it as an affirmation of what you do.” When reflecting on his win, Damm said that, “I realize that lots and lots of other professors are just as deserving as I am, but it’s a good thing to be known for—that the students appreciate what I do. I’ve been nominated before and it was fun to hear my name called.”

The winner of Alpha Chi’s 2018 Professor of the Year award will be announced on Wednesday, April 11 at 10am in the Waldorf Atrium during Honor’s Day.