Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2011

Faculty Award winner

Tim Brown

 College of Sciences

 Nicholson School of Communication

“I want to be a journalist. You know, like Nancy Grace, or Oprah.” Unfortunately, that is an all too common line in my office when I meet students who want to be—or think they want to be—electronic journalists. They have confused entertainment with a calling.

It‘s far different in reality and far more serious. Good journalism and good consumers of journalism are needed now more than ever. That‘s my driving passion in my classroom: to help our students become change makers in their fields. I strive toward this goal by setting high standards for my students, and centering my teaching philosophy and practice around three basic things:

  • Professional standards - In my skills classes, my goal is that each student will be able to produce work that could be presented on any news organization in the area. In my lecture classes, the “standards” are those that any employer would want: good writing, attention to detail and responsibility.
  • “Your effort = my effort” - I tell students that I am there to help them along the way, but only if they take the first steps. Students need to make an effort at writing a news story before I‘ll help them improve it. Without their effort, my effort is wasted.
  • Foundation for lifelong learning - I often tell students, “Use what you know to figure out what you don‘t.” It‘s my way of telling them that they have the tools to find the answers to their problems if they just try.

These three tenets show up throughout my teaching: whether it‘s through constant challenging of students to provide answers on the spot in class or through repeated script review sessions, where the student and I act as equal colleagues and work on a script together. But they must make the initial effort; once they do, they can go as far as they want. My hope is that no matter what field students may choose to enter, they do so with a solid foundation that makes them leaders. That is, after all, the goal of a college experience.