Honoring rising stars in the classroom

Irina Ivliyeva is emphatic about why the Miner Alumni Association’s Class of ’42 Excellence in Teaching Award is important. It shines the spotlight on a tough job: being an early career faculty member at S&T.

“It takes a semester just to get a feel for the culture and students,” says Ivliyeva, a professor of Russian and chair of the Outstanding Teaching Awards Committee, which also administers the Class of ’42 award. “A teacher has to click not just on an intellectual level, but also on a human level. It’s extremely difficult to earn high student-evaluation scores.”

The judging criteria for the Class of ’42 award is the same as that for the Outstanding Teaching Awards — a candidate must score at least a 3.6 out of a possible 4.0 on student evaluations.

“A teacher has to click not just on an intellectual level, but also on a human level.”

There is one difference: only tenure-track faculty members who are not yet tenured are eligible for the Class of ’42 award.

“It’s a little like a lifetime achievement award for junior faculty members,” says Ivliyeva. “The campuswide recognition is important, and it counts when it comes to promotion and tenure.” Honorees receive a cash award of $2,000.

The Class of ’42 Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1992 when class members celebrated the 50th anniversary of their graduation. Bob Brackbill, MinE’42, was among the class leaders who spearheaded fundraising for two endowments: one for a scholarship and the other for the teaching award.

“We pushed everyone pretty hard to get involved with our fundraising efforts,” said Brackbill in a Missouri S&T Magazine story published in 2009. Also quoted was another classmate, the late George Bradshaw, ME’42: “We all had been through the Depression as children, and so we learned to live frugally and to help others. We continue that expression of helping others through our endowments.”

The first Class of ’42 award was presented in 1993 and 25 early career faculty members have been honored to date, including Ivliyeva, who received the award in 2007. Max Tohline, Engl’07, assistant professor of art and film, received the 2017 award, and Wenqing Hu, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics, was honored in 2018.

“Many awards are based on years of experience, but the Class of ’42 award is different,” says Ivliyeva. “It spotlights rising stars who illuminate the classroom.”

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