Honors Program Says Thank-You to Faculty
Nick Smith and Mao Chen receive Honors Faculty Awards
By Cynthya Gluck
04/03/2019: The Honors Program celebrated the people who teach its classes at a Thank-You Lunch in April. At the event philosophy professor Nicholas Smith and biology professor Xuanmao Chen were presented with the first annual Honors Faculty Awards, given on the basis of student nominations.
The faculty in attendance enjoyed UNH-catered lunch as they pondered the conversation starters found at the center of each table. The first question asked about works of art that had been impactful to their lives, and the second question asked them to recount their best Honors teaching moments.
Director Dr. Catherine Peebles, Associate Director Dr. Katherine Gaudet, and Program Coordinator Kristen Butterfield each spoke to the group of faculty members, thanking them for the contributions to the program.
Honors students Sonja Heels and Dara McWeeney presented the awards to Professor Smith and Professor Chen. They thanked their professors for shaping their classes in a way that is not only informative but also enjoyable and challenging. They appreciate the teaching styles of both Professor Smith and Professor Chen whom each create an environment that allows for comfortable, safe discussion.
Professors Mao Chen (left) and Nick Smith (right) receive faculty awards at the Honors Thank you luncheon.
In regard to receiving the reward, Professor Smith says:
“I felt really flattered to get the award. The honors faculty are all so inspiring and devoted to their craft, and I appreciate being part of their community so I can put to work all of the things I’ve learned from (stolen from?) them. It takes a village to give these students the education they deserve. I was especially happy that Sonja presented me with the award and shared her heartfelt thoughts about the course—the things about my course that she described as most valuable are exactly the things that I work to provide, so it was so reassuring to hear those words from such a wonderful student.”
Professor Chen can attest to the inspiration that the Honors faculty elicit: “I liked this event very much, a lot of discussion, and very good ideas to improve the program,” he says, adding, “The Honors Program is very important to the success of UNH because they are all good students. We should treat the students very, very well…. to help them achieve academic success.”
Professor Chen believes that interactivity between professors and students is important to enhance the quality of instruction that Honors students receive. He praises his students for being able to interact with him and their classmates, which builds leadership skills that are necessary for success. He thinks that UNH can work to further build these interactions, claiming, “We need to satisfy the level of students that are Honors students. We do have the resources; we are a tier-one research university.”
President James Dean, who was in attendance, invited faculty to ask questions or to make comments in regard to the program. The Q+A allowed faculty to provide input in improving the Honors Program, as it is in the preliminary stage of transitioning to an Honors College.
The luncheon provided an opportunity for thoughtful, effective Honors professors to come together and begin a discussion about how to do better, while also paying tribute to the longstanding successes of the program in serving its students.
“It is an honor to teach these students; I feel very lucky. I am very grateful to my department chair for letting me teach Honors,” says Professor Chen.