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Billie Dziech and Mary Fox

Billie Dziech and Mary Fox.

We were very thrilled to present the 2006 University Honors Program Excellence in Teaching Award to Billie Dziech and Mary Fox. Billie is in the Department of English and Mary is in the Department of Biological Sciences, both in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Mary and Billie have team-taught a number of interdisciplinary honors courses over the years, including:

  • Sex Differences: Insights from Biology, Film and Literature
  • Conroy Country and the Southern Experience

These are stellar examples of what special topics courses are about. They are interdisciplinary, involving faculty from multiple disciplines, and, in the case of Conroy Country, involved a spring break study tour of South Carolina.

The students were very positive about their experiences. Mary and Billie are consistently rated particularly highly by students on their teaching methods, which involve a lot of discussion and exploration of different points of view – another hallmark of a good honors course.

As one student said: “I liked how we had really great discussions. Also how the instructors had a way of always bringing everything together.”

Students also reported that the classroom environment was conducive to learning. One stated: “Both instructors honestly cared about us and the class that they taught. I learned so much from them. They are both very knowledgeable in their fields of study. They were both the type of teachers who, although the class is hard and there is a lot of work, you do it all and you want to do it all because you know it is beneficial and you don’t want to disappoint them.”

One student added: “Both Billie and Mary did a wonderful job. For one thing, any teachers willing to go on spring break with their students are brave, and they did so willingly. They also brought the texts to life and pulled the students as readers, deep into the experience of the books.”

Although the teaching award is formally for the past year’s accomplishments, Billie and Mary had been contributing honors courses for some years (and have continued since receiving this award!). They have also disseminated their pedagogical approaches in honors courses to conference participants at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference and the National Association of Biology Teachers National Convention, to name but two.

We look forward to Billie and Mary's continuing contributions to the University Honors Program!