Excellent teachers motivate students to learn in ways that have profound and positive influences on their educational success. Each fall, UNC Charlotte recognizes those faculty members who are exemplary educators through the University Teaching Excellence Awards.
Jennifer Webb and Thomas Marshall are the 2019 recipients of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence and the UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence, respectively. They were honored during a ceremony held Friday, Sept. 6, at the Hilton Center City, along with the other award finalists Jamie Franki, associate professor, Art and Art History; Jordan Poler, Chemistry; Oscar Lansen, teaching professor, History; and Terry Shirley Jr., senior lecturer, Geography and Earth Sciences.
Webb, an associate professor in the Department of Psychological Science in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, joined UNC Charlotte in 2007. She has taught eight courses in the psychology undergraduate program and four courses for the health psychology doctoral program. Additionally, she developed two new courses for the undergraduate major.
When engaging with students, Webb strives for respect, fairness, transparency and authenticity. She considers her classroom a space where students are co-creators in the process of learning with the goal of enhancing student motivation and learning.
“I do not believe in lecturing at students,” said Webb. “I view the classroom as a creative space for our collective wisdom to dynamically unfold through lively exchanges in which we can comfortably debate the merits of multiple sides of an issue. Engaging this critical lens supports students’ consciousness-raising capacities and cognitive flexibility as personal resources.”
She also uses group projects and assignments around community engagement and advocacy themes to “advance students’ ability to synergize their collective personal strengths in a meaningful way to help strengthen campus or community resources.”
Eric Heggestad, associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychological Science, stated, “Dr. Webb has demonstrated a strong commitment to teaching and has proven to be an outstanding classroom instructor. She is widely regarded as a passionate, caring and knowledgeable instructor who is exceedingly skilled at sharing her knowledge with students in a way that they can fully grasp and, in fact, get excited about.”
Marshall, a Belk College of Business lecturer, is the inaugural recipient of the UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes outstanding non-tenure track teachers (primarily lecturers and adjunct faculty). He was lauded for his devotion to students.
Tao-Hsien Dolly King, the Ruth S. Dickson Professor of Finance and former chair of the Finance Department, said, “What makes Tom Marshall stand out among fellow teachers is his commitment to providing experiential learning opportunities for students. His hard work and efforts have resulted in extremely positive impacts on his students, who point out that there are not many other similar opportunities during their undergraduate education.”
Motivating and guiding students to discover their personal career passion is a must for Marshall.
“I have found that students are most interested and learn best from real-life examples and experiences, so all of my lectures incorporate stories and examples from my personal experience in the insurance industry or in my personal life,” he said.
Sarah Henley ’19, a former student of Marshall’s, stated, “As a professor and a mentor, Mr. Marshall has always gone above and beyond what a teacher’s job entails … After taking Principles of Risk a couple years ago, I had a professor who captivated my attention to finish what I started 10 years ago—my degree.”
A graduate of Harvard University, Webb earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California. She describes her research as studying “the positive psychology of eating, body image and weight particularly among ethnically diverse young women during the developmental period of emerging adulthood.”
Marshall, who completed an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania, served as regional vice president of Auto-Owners Insurance Co. from 1988 to 2004. He has chaired the Governing Committee of the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which has statutory responsibility for all automobile, homeowners, dwelling and workers compensation rate filings in the state.