Student nominates professor for national award

Thomas Goodman nominated Professor Steven Newman for a National Society of Collegiate Scholars Inspire Integrity Award because he does just that. He inspires students.

“His learning is immense, but he isn’t highbrowed to his students,” Goodman, a junior English and classics major, said. “He really inspires them to do good work, behave on a professional level, pushing but not begging, complimenting but not flattering.”

Newman recently became the director of undergraduate studies for the English department, and now helps students outside the classroom with decisions about their futures.

“I couldn’t think of anyone who deserved it more,” said Goodman, adding that he knew the professor since his first semester during Fall 2007. “This guy is everywhere. [What he does is] all very selfless in a sense, and I think he deserves to be recognized for what he’s doing.”

Newman was one of the 15 finalists for an Inspire Integrity Award, a national award given by the NSCS, a member of the Association of College Honor Societies that recognizes faculty members who have had a significant impact on their students’ lives and instilled a high degree of personal and academic integrity.

“The distinguished professors recognized through the Inspire Integrity Awards understand that in order for students to evolve into accomplished professionals and engaged students, they must pursue their ambitions ethically and honorably,” said Stephen E. Loflin, executive director of NSCS in a press release. “These educators impact the lessons, wisdom and guidance that encourage students to develop that kind of character.”

For the awards, Newman, who has taught at Temple for eight years, wrote an essay on the concept of integrity.

“[I see integrity] as a social virtue. My integrity depends in part upon being responsive to others without merely agreeing with whatever they have to say,” he wrote.

Newman graduated from Duke University in 1992, summa cum laude with distinction in English. He also has a master’s degree in English literature from Johns Hopkins University and earned a Ph.D. in English literature in 2001.

Besides being a finalist for an Inspire Integrity Award, he is a nominee for the Lindback Teaching Award. In 2007, he received the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teaching Award.

“I hope I can foster in [students] a sense that reading literary texts and thinking about, talking about and writing about texts matter. By that I mean these activities can enrich our sense of ourselves as individuals and as part of various communities,” Newman said. “They can even add to our own sense of agency, our ability to affect and affect things in the world.”

He also said he hopes to teach students the importance of listening to one another as responsively as possible.

“If I pay attention, I always learn something from my students,” he said, adding that after teaching at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown universities, he found Temple students to be more eager to take intellectual risks than those from other schools.

“I greatly admire Temple students,” he said. “They have lots of integrity. They keep me sharp, and I’m grateful for that.”

When Amanda Bancroft, a senior English major, decided to switch her major from music to English, she said Newman assured her she made the right decision.

“I believe Professor Newman is an excellent teacher,” she said. “He was knowledgeable of the subject matter, but he never made me feel that I could not provide insight in class. I actually felt encouraged and maybe even excited to take risks in discussions. This was a big change because I rarely spoke in my previous classes.”

Newman took a personal interest in every student, said Bancroft.

“Later that semester, I asked Professor Newman to write me a recommendation for admission into a five-year graduate education program,” she said. “He actually took the time to meet with me outside of the class and get a better idea of who I was and why I wanted to go into education.”

Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at sueann.downey@temple.edu.

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