Each year, faculty members who are held in the highest esteem by colleagues and students are honored with Teaching Excellence Awards. Dr. Douglas Lobner, professor of biomedical sciences; Dr. Robert Lowe, professor of education policy and leadership; and Dr. Stephen Franzoi, professor of psychology, received the John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence this year. Dr. Richard Jones, professor of social and cultural sciences, received the Robert and Mary Gettel Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.
Although the honorees are all accomplished scholars specializing in different disciplines, one thread is consistent throughout – above all, they consider themselves teachers.
Lobner was nominated by his colleagues and students as an individual dedicated to his students and his profession. During his 15 years at Marquette, Lobner has developed meaningful and understandable ways to teach very complex information on human physiology and neuroscience within multiple programs, including biological sciences, dentistry and the physician assistant program.
“What Doug is actually doing is initiating and sustaining a transformative process whereby students grow from novice learners to more sophisticated learners who begin to seek answers to their own questions,” one of his colleagues wrote in a nomination letter.
In addition to teaching, Lobner has been principal investigator and co-principal investigator on more than $5 million in grants, and is currently focusing on determining the role of environmental toxins in neurodegenerative diseases. However, he claims that the most rewarding part of working at Marquette is interacting with students.
“The most impressive thing about our students is that they want to be doctors, dentists or physician assistants not to make money, but to help people,” Lobner said.
Lowe has demonstrated a commitment to teaching excellence with a special emphasis on social justice during his 22 years at Marquette. He studies race, class and schooling from a historical perspective, and is regarded as one of the country’s foremost historians of American education.
Lowe’s nominations from colleagues and students lauded him as a generous and giving instructor who challenges, guides and affirms, while also serving as a mentor and model of social justice. Many noted that Lowe believes good teaching begins with respect for students’ individual experiences and intellects.
“I hope my teaching has helped to equip students with the habits of mind and sensibilities of heart that will aid them in contributing to their own version of a more just society,” Lowe said. “One thing I really appreciate about Marquette is that it attracts students who are responsive to new ideas, willing to accept challenges, and, most impressively, so often grateful for critical feedback on their work.”
Lowe earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California–Berkeley, master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University, and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.
Jones was nominated by his colleagues and former students who described him as a “workhorse” and a “dream,” and highlighted his straightforward and relatable approach in the classroom. “Professor Jones embodied everything I now believe college should be,” a former student said.
Jones has taught 15 different undergraduate courses during his 25-year career at Marquette, including: crime and punishment, the experience of incarceration, social problems, principles of sociology, and sport in society. He has positively impacted first-generation and minority students through his contributions to the Educational Opportunity Program, the McNair Scholars and the Freshman Frontier Program. Jones currently serves as the Faculty Athletics Representative based on his work with Marquette’s student-athletes.
Jones earned his bachelor’s degree from Mankato State University and his Ph.D. from Iowa State University.
“I wouldn’t enjoy my profession as much without the balance between teaching and research,” Jones said. “My teaching is improved tremendously by the research that I am engaged in, and I feel that students become more engaged in the material when the professor is excited by the work they are doing.”
Franzoi was nominated by his colleagues and former students who highlighted his dedication to engaging and motivating thousands of students through his passion for the material he teaches and his sincere concern for their well-being. “Dr. Franzoi took time out of his already busy life to accommodate my needs and meet with me one-on-one,” said a former student. “His comment to me was simple and caring: ‘I am here to do whatever I can to help you learn.’”
Franzoi’s published works, including his introductory textbooks in psychology and social psychology, have been used by more than 250,000 students in the United States and abroad. Franzoi is also active in the Department of Psychology’s graduate program, where he advises students and serves as a mentor and role model for incoming faculty members. He received his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and his doctorate from the University of California at Davis.
“I consider it a great honor and privilege to be one member of a university of professors who value the pursuit of knowledge in its many forms, and who similarly value the sharing of that knowledge with their students,” Franzoi said.