Every day that I go to class, I know I am getting a great education. Why? Because this is Xavier, and the professors are amazing. No seriously. They are not only great educators but great people as well, living out the Jesuit maxim, known as Cura Personalis, to educate the whole person, not just the mind. This year alone saw many professors receive honors and awards.
Five professors were honored by Cincy Magazine as Outstanding Educators for 2013. The winners were Christian End of the psychology department, John Fairfield of history, Tamara Giluk of management and entrepreneurship, David Hyland of finance and Matthew Westgate of music. They were recognized by their colleagues for their work and devotion in and out of the classroom. These professors go above and beyond what is asked of them.
Take John Fairfield for example. He is determined to have students become familiar and oriented with where they live during their college days. In his Writing in Public course, he encourages students to become ecologically informed citizens, with the goal of learning a sense of place wherever they choose to live. Fairfield says it is important to make a commitment to a place.
“The place doesn’t, obviously, have to be Cincinnati, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lifelong commitment or one made early in life. But I do think it’s good to sink roots and make an important contribution to a community,” he says.
Fairfield also strives to connect with students on a personal level. “I’m pleased they find me still engaged enough in life that they believe I have something useful to say to them about their hopes and fears, plans and aspirations.”
Thomas Knestrict, an associate professor of education, has also been honored. He was named the Bishop Fenwick Teacher of the Year by the Xavier chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society. The Bishop Fenwick Teacher of the Year is nominated by the students, and those who nominated Knestrict praised his knowledge, passion and commitment for special education.
Knestrict is known for creating the Remarkable Families Symposium, which entered its sixth year this March. The symposium is a day-long event at Xavier that presents the opportunity for families raising children with special needs to access resources, learn of new opportunities and to network with other families in order to “not only survive but to thrive.”
Many professors are recognized for their contributions to the community. Ron Quinn, associate professor of sports administration, received the Coach of the Year Award from the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Women’s Sports Association for his work as head girls’ soccer coach at Seton High School.
Quinn was nominated by Janie Shaffer, Seton’s athletic director, who said, “Coach Quinn is an amazing mentor and someone I would want to coach my own children. His focus is on developing the whole person, and each day is a new lesson on life, not just soccer.”
Professors like Fairfield, Knestrict and Quinn make me proud to call myself a Xavier student, and remind me how important my Jesuit education is for my future.
-Sean McMahon, Class of 2015