EDWARDSVILLE - The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Alumni Association has selected Jack Glassman, PhD, as its 2017 Great Teacher Award recipient. The New York City native is a physics professor in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Glassman is the 47th SIUE faculty member to receive the honor since its inception in 1970.
Glassman will receive a plaque and a $1,000 award. He will be recognized during the fall 2017 commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 16 and will serve as the afternoon ceremony commencement speaker.
“I am deeply touched to receive this award, because it comes from my former students,” Glassman said. “This tells me that they value my efforts, and that they carried away an appreciation that their own efforts were for a worthwhile end. I push my students to achieve the highest level of mastery of the subject that they can. This isn’t easy for me, and it certainly isn’t easy for them!
“There’s no getting around it, physics is a difficult subject to learn. There’s no way that I can teach it thoroughly and make it easy. But I work extremely hard to ensure that my students emerge with a solid command of the subject at a level appropriate to whatever course they were in.”
“Dr. Glassman is highly recognized in the College as someone who truly understands the teaching aspect of a faculty member’s role,” said Greg Budzban, PhD, and CAS dean. “He is appreciated by students as an effective instructor and recognized by alumni as a professor who made an impact on the direction of their professional lives.”
One of his nominators wrote, “Through my years as an undergraduate physics major, Jack was able to help me understand the complex concepts that are shown to us in the field of physics. No matter what class, no matter what concept, he would be there to help me and my fellow classmates figure out how the universe works. His understanding of the material and his way to connect with his students is something that is rarely seen from professors. Whether teaching a 400-level optics course or a 100-level general physics course, he is able to connect with his students and make the difficult work enjoyable. Jack is one of few professors where people try to have class with him the following semester.
The nominator added, “Along with Jack being such a great teacher to me, he has also been a great mentor through my time at graduate school. Jack does not just teach those immediately in front of him, he loves teaching and loves helping new minds grow.”
“I strive to give them clear explanations and descriptions, and to use whatever tools I think will assist their learning,” Glassman added. “I try to transfer my own passion for the subject to my students. I want them to be as fascinated by it as I am, whether they are physics majors or students with no other science background.”
Glassman earned a bachelor’s in physics from the University of Arizona in 1990 and a master’s in physics from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1992. He also achieved a doctorate in optical sciences from UNM in 1997.
Glassman’s first formal teaching experience was as a 17-year-old instructor in a telescope-making course in the Hayden Planetarium, the institution currently headed by Neil deGrasse Tyson. He has worked in research laboratories for the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Energy, and briefly, for a tech startup company and four other universities. Prior to joining SIUE in 2004, he was director of laser development at the Nevada Terawatt Facility in Reno, Nevada.
In 1970, the SIUE Alumni Association established the Great Teacher Award to recognize excellence in instruction and student interaction. Alumni, colleagues or current students nominate SIUE faculty members. The nominators provide their perspective on those individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and originality in their teaching, superior knowledge of their subject matter, original and innovating classroom presentations, and who demonstrated concern for students both inside and outside of the classroom. Those nominated have had a tremendous impact on the lives of their students, which carries on long past graduation.
Central to SIUE’s exceptional and comprehensive education, the College of Arts and Sciences has 19 departments and 85 areas of study. More than 300 full-time faculty/instructors deliver classes to more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty help students explore diverse ideas and experiences, while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of the global community. Study abroad, service-learning, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities better prepare SIUE students not only to succeed in our region’s workplaces, but also to become valuable leaders who make important contributions to our communities.