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Collin College professor receives high honor: Award is fifth in college's history, most of any school in Texas
Collin College physics professor Greg Sherman, second from left, was recently awarded the 2012 Texas Professor of the Year Award. Pictured with Sherman are the four previous winners from Collin College. From left, Jennifer O'Loughlin Brooks, 2006 Texas Professor of the Year; Rosemary Karr, 2007 U.S. Professor of the Year; Brad Baker, 2000 U.S. Professor of the Year; and Tracey McKenzie, 2009 U.S. Professor of the Year. / Photo courtesy of Nick Young
A Collin College faculty member is in elite company after receiving the 2012 Texas State Professor of the Year Award. The award was officially announced today.
Greg Sherman, a physics professor at the college's Spring Creek Campus in Plano, received the award from the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Sherman has been with Collin College since 2005, shortly after receiving his Ph.D from TCU.
"I was overwhelmed and surprised when I heard I won the award," Sherman said. "The whole process has been overwhelming because it is never something I thought I would receive. It wasn't even on my mind. I was focused on being the best ambassador for physics I can be."
One of the challenges Sherman said he faces is getting students to enjoy physics, noting that understanding the subject requires a different way of thinking that can seem daunting to new students. However, he is able to overcome this obstacle because of the smaller class sizes at Collin College.
"A perk of community colleges in general is that instead of sitting in a lecture hall of 250 people, you are in a classroom with 25 to 30 people," Sherman said. "It is a different environment. By the second or third week of class I know all my students by name. When I was an adjunct professor at UNT I didn't really know any of my students."
Sherman allows his students to meet with him whenever his office door is open, not just during his posted office hours. He said this makes a good impression on his students, many of whom are taking physics for the first time.
"You need to show students that you are willing to work as hard as they are," he said.
In addition to his teaching duties, Sherman works with fellow Collin College professor Christian Aars to research variable stars. The two have taken several trips to the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, but hope to also be able to conduct research closer to home using telescopes owned by the Collin College Preston Ridge Campus.
The Professor of the Year award has been presented for 32 years by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation. The national award is the only one of its kind focused on recognizing excellence in undergraduate teaching.
For winning the award, Sherman was honored earlier this year in Washington, D.C., by the National Press Club, as well as at a congressional reception on Capitol Hill. He was also recognized Tuesday at a ceremony at the college.
The award is the second of its kind for the college, which has also won three National Teacher of the Year awards from Carnegie and the CASE Foundation. The five combined awards are the most of any college or university in Texas, said Collin College President Cary Israel. Rice University and TCU have four each, while the University of Texas at Austin has three.
"For us to be ahead of TCU, Rice and UT-Austin for this really coveted award speaks well to the great faculty at Collin College," Israel said. "It is exhilarating. I hope it tells the public that we have quality faculty and that you can get a fabulous education for the lowest tuition in the state of Texas."
Israel said Sherman has a top-notch reputation with current and former students, who say that he makes physics fun.
"One of the students I visited with said that he considers taking a physics class from Dr. Sherman a must-take," Israel said. "I think this is incredible, since for the good of our country and state, we want more students to be in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Saying his class is a must-take is a real testament to the kind of professor that he is."
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