Cameron University’s Dr. Jenel Cavazos, assistant professor of psychology, and Monika Linehan, associate professor of art, have been selected as the 2013 recipients of the Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Teaching Excellence Award. The Hackler Lectureship in Teaching Excellence was established in 1996 by Cameron alumni Harold and Elizabeth Hackler to recognize outstanding contributions by faculty in the lives of Cameron students. Cavazos and Linehan received their awards this evening during a reception featuring Mr. and Mrs. Hackler at Cameron University-Duncan. Cameron students Jacob Jardel and Manda Shae Dickinson introduced Cavazos and Linehan. Each spoke of the impact their respective faculty member has had on their education. Jardel graduated in May with a degree in psychology and is now pursuing a master’s degree in behavioral sciences, and Dickinson is a senior art major studying studio art.
“It is a pleasure to recognize Dr. Jenel Cavazos and Monika Linehan with Cameron’s highest faculty honor,” says Dr. Ronna Vanderslice, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “This recognition would not be possible without the support of Harold and Elizabeth Hackler.”
Through the endowment, Cavazos and Linehan will each receive a stipend and a grant for professional development. Their names will be added to the Hackler Award honor roll plaque that is on display at the CU-Duncan campus.
Cavazos was nominated by Hannah Smart, a Lawton communications major who is minoring in psychology. Smart acknowledged Cavazos’ commitment to students, writing, “She goes above and beyond, especially outside the classroom. She responds to emails at all hours. Dr. Cavazos keeps up with many sections of classes and still has time to talk to students who are no longer in her classes and she will not have in class ever again.” Smart mentioned how Cavazos took the time to meet with her to discuss post-graduate possibilities, even though Cavazos is not her adviser and Smart was no longer enrolled in any of her classes.
“I am proud to be charged with the responsibility of helping shape a new generation of individuals,” Cavazos writes in her statement of teaching philosophy. “I am aware that my impact permeates beyond the realm of the subject matter I am teaching, and I strive to instill fundamental skills and abilities in my students that can enhance their ability to excel regardless of their chosen path.”
She goes on to say that she strives to be someone her students can relate to. “My graduate mentor once said, ‘I am just like you, only a few years further on the path.’ This is a statement I take to heart, and one that I strive to pass to my students. It portrays a message that I am not smarter, more talented or inherently more valuable than they; in contrast, they and I are much the same. I have simply acquired additional knowledge and experience that I can share. Viewing the self through the eyes of the students can be an eye-opening exercise in self-evaluation, but I have found that the most effective professors never forget the feeling of being a student.”
Cavazos earned a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Oklahoma, where she also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Master of Science degree in social psychology. She joined the Cameron faculty in August 2010.
Linehan was nominated by Blagica Ristovska, an international student from Macedonia who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art in May 2013. Ristovka cited Linehan’s willingness to be available to her students whenever they sought help or guidance. “She is a Cameron alumnus who represents what excellence in teaching is supposed to be,” Ristovka wrote. “She pushes her students to think further and not to settle for just the average. She motivates them to want to pursue a career and become active members of society. She is a dedicated professor who values hard work and who will not settle for anything but high-quality education.”
According to Linehan, the basis of her teaching philosophy is rooted in the concept that every student is a unique individual with distinct capabilities and educational needs. “Only by getting to know your students as individuals are you able to teach them according to their needs and in a manner that promotes effective learning,” she writes. “Ultimately, through my teaching, I strive to inspire and challenge my students, both technically and creatively. My goal is to produce successful, confident, competent and creative artists who are passionate about their chosen field. There is nothing more rewarding than to watch your students succeed.”
Linehan graduated with honors from Cameron in 1980, earning a Bachelor of Art degree in studio art. She then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in painting and drawing from Southern Methodist University. She joined the Cameron faculty in 2004.
Recipients of the Harold and Elizabeth Hackler Teaching Excellence Award are selected based on nominations from faculty and students. All faculty who have been regular full-time members of the CU faculty for at least three years and hold an appointment as an assistant professor or higher are eligible. The candidate’s principle assignment must be teaching.
November 14, 2013