Last Thursday was a great day for three Temple professors.
On April 8, Temple University presented its 17th annual Great Teacher Awards to Kevin Delaney, Laura E. Little and Joan Mellen at Mitten Hall’s Great Court.
Each of the Great Teacher Award recipients received a hand-crafted sculpture by Tyler School of Art professor Stanley Lechtzin. The honorees will also have their names engraved in the Founders Garden wall and were awarded $15,000, one of the nation’s largest stipends for a collegiate teaching award.
Aside from the sculptures and cash prizes, receiving a nomination was just as impressive as receiving the honor itself.
Delaney, Little and Mellen were nominated by administrators, students and department chairpersons. Additionally, evaluations of classroom performance and relations with students are entered into the selection equation, a process that transpires over a few months.
A 16-year faculty member, Delaney is a teacher’s teacher. He has mentored younger teachers and served as a graduate chairman, all the while holding down his own teaching responsibilities.
His main duty, and self-proclaimed struggle, is in helping his students understand their roles in the classroom.
“I wish to see my students find themselves,” Delaney said. “I enjoy it when my students understand that they belong in the world of ideas.”
Delaney refuses to see teaching as anything but a learning process for students and teachers equally.
“After receiving this award, I know now that some students will come in and say they are expecting a lot [out of me],” Delaney said. “It is a new challenge. [This award] invigorates me. It makes me want to do better, and teaching is always a work in progress.
“I head off to work everyday saying, ‘[Temple] is the place where I am meant to be and this is the work I am meant to do.’ ”
Mellen, like Delaney, understands that her determination has not gone unnoticed. Over her 30-plus years at Temple, she has taught some of the best and brightest. But Mellen said it is her students’ accomplishments and not her personal achievements that are best remembered.
With a group of her current students present to hear her acceptance speech, Mellen recalled her methods for teaching English and success.
“Teachers are always looking,” Mellen explained. “It is a process and a program that keeps on looking- looking to improve, looking to succeed.”
Mellen also commented on students’ work ethics. “To write a sentence with proper grammar takes analytical discipline,” Mellen said. “It is something I hope I have taught my students. Not working hard is not an option.”
In addition to the Great Teacher Awards, the faculty awards convocation honored another six Temple professors. These faculty members were presented with awards for individual contributions to research and creative achievement.
The Lindback Foundation Award was presented to four teachers for distinguished departmental teaching. The Lindback recipients were Thomas Eveslage, professor of journalism; Peter Jones, associate professor of criminal justice; Paul Lyons, associate professor of medicine; and David A. Sonenshein, professor of law.
Two faculty members were honored with the Faculty Research and Creative Achievement Award, recognizing exemplary contributions in print and research endeavors. Nora S. Newcombe, professor of psychology; and Miles Orvell, professor of English and American studies, were the recipients of this award.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.