The Princeton Review’s inaugural publication of “Best 300 Professors” named seven University of Mary Washington professors in their list among professors from 122 public and private colleges and universities.
Listed in the publication are Adjunct Professor of English Beverly Almond, Associate Professor and Chair of Accounting and Management Information Systems Dan Hubbard, Associate Professor of Psychology Miriam Liss, Associate Professor and Chair of History Jeffrey McClurken, Professor of English Warren Rochelle, Professor and Chair of Theatre Gregg Stull, and Professor of English Steve Watkins.
The UMW professors are named among 31 professors from five Virginia colleges and universities, including the College of William and Mary and James Madison University, according to a university press release.
The Princeton Review article featured a profile on each professor that highlighted their individual teaching styles and provides insight from UMW students.
Almond has taught art, Biblical, Appalachian and folklore literature over her 10 years at UMW.
According to the Princeton Review, “Almond lets students take the lead. Instead of telling them the significance of a composition, Almond prefers they discover it themselves.”
Hubbard was stunned to receive the news that he was listed among the 300 best professors in the U.S.
Hubbard has taught accounting at UMW for a decade and is also a certified public accountant. According to students, Hubbard rarely uses a textbook and asks open-ended questions.
“I try to throw out fewer facts and try to encourage more thinking,” said Hubbard. “The classroom is a place where curiosity should be encouraged, I want students to continue the discussion outside of class.”
Gabrielle DeVincenzo, a sophomore business major, has Hubbard as an advisor.
“He’s very welcoming to new members of the major. He’s incredibly helpful in any venture that I would potentially want to pursue,” said DeVincenzo.
Liss, a licensed clinical psychologist, focuses her research on autism, developmental disorders and gender issues. According to the press release, “she received the UMW Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award in 2005 and was a finalist in the SHEV state award in 2006 and 2009.”
Elizabeth Storey, a sophomore psychology major, took Liss’ general psychology and psychology of women courses.
“Her teaching is infectious, she makes you excited and involved in the material,” said Storey. “She’s really good at generating discussions and gives good feedback.”
Jeffrey McClurken teaches courses in 19th-century American social and cultural history, technology, gender studies and digital history. In 2003, McClurken received the Mary Washington Young Alumnus Award. He also is the author of “Take Care of the Living: Reconstructing Confederate Veteran Families in Virginia.”
McClurken’s goal in his teachings is to engage students in the class.
“There is a place for lecture, but now there are lots of other opportunities to engage students,” said McClurken. “Technology offers a chance to foster engagement and participation; allows students to do things they’ve never done before.”
Leanna Papp, a sophomore psychology major, is currently taking McClurken’s class in U.S. Women’s History since 1870.
“His teaching style is the tried-and-true lecture [and] Power Point combination method, but he makes class fun with jokes and discussion questions,” said Papp.
Papp also enjoyed a class where McClurken recreated a 1950s classroom experience.
“We have all had a lot of fun pulling from academic and non-academic resources to better understand what college life was like 60 years ago,” said Papp.
Rochelle is the coordinator of the creative writing concentration with an expertise in science fiction and fantasy. He has written several novels, including his most recent novel, “The Called.”
“I was sort of surprised to be on their list,” said Rochelle of his ranking. “I know any Best-of-Something list can be problematic. However, I do think this can bring some good attention to UMW and that’s a good thing for all concerned.”
Ren Armstrong, freshman psychology major, has Rochelle as her advisor. Armstrong believes Rochelle is very patient and said Rochelle has been very helpful to her in the past.
“He doesn’t tell us what direction to go in, but rather he lets us figure it out for ourselves and then helps us with the details,” said Armstrong. “He is very understanding [and] can put anything into perspective.”
Stull is an expert on funding, policy and first amendment issues involving the arts. He has won UMW’s Grellet C. Simpson Award, the Mary W. Pinschmidt Award and the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, according to the university press release.
Stull believes that UMW draws people who want to teach and was surprised upon hearing about his name on the Princeton Review list.
“We’re at a teaching institution and there are many who deserve it here,” said Stull.
Stull tries to offer class material to students on a deeper level.
“I like for students to connect with the material in a way that helps them understand themselves better,” said Stull. “I want to help them create a path for themselves in life.”
Watkins won the 2009 Golden Kite Award for Fiction from the Society for Children’s book Writers and Illustrators for his book, “Down Sand Mountain.” Watkins also received the 2011-2012 Artist Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Sophomore Josh Roberts is currently in Watkins’ fiction class. “He seems really knowledgeable,” said Roberts. “He does most of the classes work shopping other people’s stories. It’s a little more personal. He’s there to give you advice.”
Alison Thoet and Jonathan Polson contributed to this report.