Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for Encouragement of Teachers (2001)
2000-2001 Commencement Ceremony Excerpt
I am most pleased to announce that the winner of the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for the year 2001 is associate professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Dr. Alan K. Zaring.
Dr. Zaring is a graduate of Indiana University where he majored in computer science and mathematics, and he received both his master’s degree and the Ph.D. from Cornell with a major in computer science and a minor in linguistics. Alan came to Ohio Wesleyan in 1990 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1996. He teaches courses on computer organization, paradigms of computation, database systems, computer systems and architecture, artificial intelligence, programming languages, and computer theory and design. Alan is also an active and productive scholar. In addition to his many conference presentations and invited lectures, he has provided technical review and major content consultation for several books and contributed original materials to technical reports and instructor’s manuals. While it may seem that one so busy with teaching and research would have little time left for service, in Alan’s ten short years at Ohio Wesleyan, he has already served as a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee, the Academic Status Committee, the Assessment Committee, and is currently serving on the Academic Policy Committee.
Dr. Zaring is, according to his students, and again in their words, “challenging,” “thought-provoking,” “informative,” “interesting,” “organized and efficient,” “dedicated,” “devoted,” “helpful,” and “encouraging.” One student said: “Dr. Zaring illuminates extremely difficult course material in a wonderful fashion;” said another: “He stimulates thinking;” and another, “He never hesitates to help students out.” Other students commented: “Dr. Zaring is extremely difficult but you do learn the material;” “he nurtures a love for the subject and my decision to major is due exclusively to him;” “I found myself absorbed in the assignments, striving to perfect them to his high standards;” “Dr. Zaring’s witty and stimulating style of instruction makes for a great experience.” And here are two very different approaches to singing Alan’s praises. As one student put it: “This is one course that will challenge your abilities, take the best out of you, and give you the best.” Said the other: “He’s an amazing teacher who kept me awake when I hadn’t slept at all the previous night.”
Finally, one student could not refrain from commenting not on Alan’s teaching style, but on his sartorial style: “His dragon t-shirt is a riot; I hope he doesn’t lose it!”