MISSOULA – University of Montana assistant professors Daisy Rooks and Tobin Shearer will receive the 2013 Helen and Winston Cox Educational Excellence Award at UM’s 116th Commencement on Saturday, May 18.
Rooks teaches in the Department of Sociology. Students describe her classes as interesting, stimulating and challenging, while colleagues admire the variety of teaching innovations she implements in her courses.
Her class Inequality and Social Justice is a service-learning course taught onsite at the Poverello Center, a homeless shelter in Missoula. In the class, Rooks teaches her students about poverty and homelessness, how to conduct qualitative research and the value of serving one’s community.
Outside the classroom, Rooks played a key role in the development of the Global Leadership Initiative – a central component of the University’s strategic plan – as well as the Pedagogy Project, a faculty-development program.
Shearer teaches in the Department of History and is director of the African American Studies program. His courses include Prayer and Civil Rights; The Black Radical Tradition; and African American Religious Experience: Voodoo, Muslim, Church: Black Religion.
Students remark that while the subject matter challenges them to think in new ways, Shearer himself, through encouragement, enthusiasm and approachability, inspires intellectual growth and an examination of beliefs. His use of props in class – a sacred clay pot, Grizzly football footage and a ransom note from a fictitious communist agency claiming to have kidnapped Shearer – all serve a purpose and role in his classes.
Shearer also has helped establish a teaching community at UM as founder of the Pedagogy Project, which encourages reflection and discussion about teaching at the University.
The Helen and Winston Cox Educational Award is given annually to UM faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences who are not yet tenured. The prestigious award helps the college attract and retain high-quality faculty. Award winners exhibit superior teaching skills and dedication to advising and mentoring students. The award is the highest honor given by the College of Arts and Sciences for early career faculty.
The award was established by the Cox children to honor their parents. Winston Cox was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and an oil man.
Photo cutline: UM Assistant Professors Tobin Shearer, left, and Daisy Rooks.