Lewis, Belt Earn SUNY-wide Teaching Awards
SUNY has bestowed a 2012 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching on two professors whose work has been transformative for decades of Oswego students: Tracy K. Lewis and John H. Belt.
Lewis, a multilingual teacher-scholar for nearly three decades and a pre-eminent expert on the literature of Paraguay, has taught Spanish, Portuguese, Spanish literature and more with patience, humor and creativity.
Belt, a teacher of technology design for 37 years at Oswego, has earned lifelong admiration among students in many fields for his groundbreaking and rigorous teaching methods in pursuit of making the world a more livable, sustainable place.
Lewis “is an extraordinarily gifted teacher, a master at working with students across a broad spectrum of skill and talent levels,” wrote President Deborah F. Stanley in a letter transmitting Lewis’ nomination to SUNY. “Tracy is legendary among colleagues and students alike for boundless energy, limitless patience, innovative teaching techniques and ever-present good humor.”
Lewis has distinguished himself as a scholar, translating books of Paraguayan and Chilean authors as well as writing two books of his own essays and poetry and many scholarly articles in English, Spanish, Portuguese and the indigenous Paraguayan Guarani.
Typical of comments from former students — many of whom are language teachers, Ph.D. candidates or social workers — was one from Jennifer Ranaldi ’06, who wrote, “Now as a working professional, I use Spanish every day in my position as a public health specialist with the New York State Department of Health … Without wonderful teachers like Dr. Lewis, I probably would have switched my major, chosen something else, and I would never be where I am today.”
A longtime proponent of the work and philosophy of the late R. Buckminster Fuller, most famous for the geodesic dome, Belt has earned countless testimonials from students — and from Fuller’s daughter, Allegra Fuller Snyder, professor emerita of dance and dance ethnology at UCLA, who wrote a letter of support for his Chancellor’s Award nomination.
In an August 2010 interview, Belt said what his students make of themselves is what he treasures most. “I keep in touch with many graduates. That’s very rewarding,” he said. “One is a designer for Apple, and his only (higher) education is Oswego. His last project was the iPad … Another who studied with me revamped a model design workshop, which is state of the art among East Coast industrial model builders. Another is vice president of General Electric’s Automotive Transportation.”
Belt and his methods were the subject of a case study in the 60th yearbook of the Council of Technology Teacher Education, a professional council for the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association. He has made many presentations, often with his undergraduate or graduate students, at workshops and conferences.
⎯ Jeff Rea '71
Longtime technology education professor John H. Belt scales a geodesic dome in 2010. Along with professor Tracy K. Lewis, Belt won a 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
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