SUNY Oswego’s annual teaching excellence awards will go to an art professor who, in her own words, is “direct and honest” with students, and a part-time business professor who tries to create a classroom environment of enthusiasm and energy.
In a ceremony this fall, Cynthia Clabough, who is art department chair, will receive the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Thomas Delduchetto, instructor of marketing and management, will accept the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Part-Time Faculty.
Clabough joined SUNY Oswego’s faculty in 1994. In a statement of teaching philosophy attached to her nomination for the award, she is characteristically blunt: “It has been my experience that while pleasing is easiest, challenging has a longer lasting impact.”
Students in her graphic design courses noted that there is “no placating” from Clabough, who “doesn’t sugar-coat things.” In the same evaluation, students say, “The honesty is what I appreciated most because I felt I could trust her,” and “Grades very harshly, but she is a great teacher. It is worth taking courses with her.”
Clabough, who has a master of fine arts degree in drawing and painting from Southern Illinois University, has continued throughout her teaching career to show her own graphic design posters and other works in juried exhibitions, as part of what she calls her “personal manifesto.”
“I believe it is my responsibility to stay current in my field,” said Clabough of one of the five key principles in her teaching philosophy. “To practice what I teach so that I never forget how it feels to fail as well as to succeed, how it feels to have someone criticize or praise my work in a public way, how it feels to put my heart on my sleeve and have no one notice.”
Clabough received ringing support from her nominators, graphic design faculty members Cara Brewer Thompson and Kelly Roe. “Her reputation amongst students,” wrote Thompson, “is that she is a challenging professor who goes beyond first assumptions and conclusions and reaches beyond what they had thought possible for themselves. She prepares them, not only for work in the industry, but to be vital participants in their community and lives.”
Delduchetto, a former human resources executive for NBT Bancorp Inc., POMCO, M&T Bank and others, joined Oswego as an adjunct faculty member in fall 2006. He teaches two courses a semester, has served as a first-year adviser and a summer orientation adviser, and has been on the School of Business assessment committee.
“Tom has consistently received high student and peer evaluations in his teaching,” wrote Richard Skolnik, dean of Oswego’s School of Business, in support of Delduchetto’s nomination. “In Fall 2009, his overall teaching evaluation was 4.7 out of 5.0, one of the highest in the School of Business. I observed Tom’s dedication to teaching during a snowstorm during the 2006-2007 academic year. Classes were canceled and Rich Hall was nearly deserted, except for Tom. He had braved the elements and commuted from Syracuse.”
According to feedback, students found him “very understanding and gave great feedback,” as Delduchetto “encouraged us to participate immensely. He was quick to respond to questions and made sure students understood. He was the best!”
Nominating professor Steven Abraham of the marketing and management faculty said anecdotal support for Delduchetto’s award is overwhelming. “The first thing to note is that Professor Delduchetto is adored by his students,” wrote Abraham. “I have conversed with many of the students taught by him and they all rave. Whenever I meet with students they all want to get into his courses; whenever he is one of several professors teaching a course, his sections are always first to fill.”
Delduchetto also subscribes to strength in diversity. “I have been fortunate to have several international students in my various classes. I have encouraged the international students to make presentations as well as to provide their perspective on many management issues and business environments,” he wrote. “My classes have been enriched!”
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(Posted: May 12, 2010)