Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kirk awarded for teaching excellence

Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. not only believed in “training champions for Christ,” but he also desired to train leaders in all discipline areas, student faith, thought and character.

Thus, the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching was created. This award recognizes teachers who have promoted significant student learning that is evidenced by exceptional academic skill, effective use of instructional technology and the incorporation of creative and innovative approaches to teaching and learning, according to the Liberty website.

This year, Bruce Kirk, a Communication Studies professor, won first place in the residential undergraduate area for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The award, which is given by the Chancellor and sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), recognized Kirk’s dedication and devotion to teaching, inspiring, encouraging and challenging Liberty University champions for Christ.

“This award is a real honor,” Kirk said. “First of all, to be considered alongside so many amazing professors is a true blessing. I came to academia late in life following three decades in the media. I believe in experimental learning, combining theory with hands-on opportunities to resemble what my students will experience when they leave Liberty. So to be recognized by fellow educators, especially among the deans at Liberty University, is exciting.”

Every year, the award winners are categorized into four different areas — Liberty University Online Graduate, Online Undergraduate, Residential Graduate and Residential Undergraduate.

In order to be considered, applicants must submit examples of faculty and student work, which showcases their students and makes their application stand out, according to the CTE website. What each applicant submits is up to them, but some options include lesson plans, videos or presentations, email communication, goals or outcomes and
assessments.

As stated above, a part of the award recognizes a professor’s investment in the student personally, which makes graduation for some communications students bittersweet.

“I’m about to graduate in two weeks,” senior communications student Ashley Thomas said. “Teachers like professor Kirk make it harder to leave. Kirk is much more than a professor. He’s a motivator, friend and inspiration. Although my days of classes with him are long gone, he still played a huge role in my senior year. If he has the power to help a student, he will.”

Beginning this summer, Kirk will step up and take on the role of chairman for the School of Communication, under the dean of the department Norman Mintle.

“I will chair our four divisions in what is now COMS Studies – AD/PR, speech communication, digital media and journalism,” Kirk said. “These will be moving to majors along with other exciting changes as we work to match our programs with the changing landscape of communication. The chancellor and Dean Mintle have emphasized that our target will include significant growth for our program as well as experiential learning opportunities.”

Along with serving as chairman, Kirk will continue to teach digital media and journalism courses, along with assisting the campus radio and TV stations.

“My teaching will include both residential and online, where we hope to also grow our strength in that critical component of today’s education process,” Kirk said.

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