By Caroline Goldstein
Student voting for the Lindback Award for Outstanding Teaching, which is presented annually at graduation, will begin in November.
The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award originated in 1961 and came to the University in 1963. The award is given out at 52 schools in the Delaware Valley region.
Eduard Casillas, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Lindback Committee, advised students to consider professors who have been challenging, inspiring, have forced them to think critically and are interested in students as individuals.
“Most students have people who jump out in their minds when they hear that description,” Casillas said.
The 2012 recipient of the Lindback Award was Gerard T. Olson, professor of finance in the School of Business. Olson has been teaching at the University since 1988.
Olson has a bachelor’s degree in economics from La Salle University, a master of business administration from La Salle, a master of economics from Temple University and a doctorate in business with a concentration in finance from Drexel University.
Olson first taught at Kensington High School in the Philadelphia School District. While at Kensington, Olson taught math to seniors in high school, many of whom could not even do simple addition. He said that it was frustrating for the students, but it was a good feeling when they grasped a difficult concept.
From there, Olson went on to earn his teaching certificate in social studies for secondary education from La Salle University.
He then taught American history, economics and sociology at William Penn High School, also in the Philadelphia School District. Olson taught finance at La Salle University for nine years before coming to the University.
Olson now teaches finance courses, including courses for the MBA program as well as financial management and reporting, a team-taught sophomore level undergrad course.
“I think that he takes a special initiative to really work with his students and make sure his students understand the topics,” Senior Andrea Zinn said.
Zinn took Olson’s financial management and reporting course during her sophomore year and voted for him for the Lindback Award.
She went on to say that Olson made an effort to get to know all of the students.
“He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” she said.
He is also the first Lindback Award winner from the finance department in 18 years, so his department was thrilled by his nomination.
“They were more happy for me than perhaps I was for myself,” Olson said.
An email will be sent out to students with the link to vote. Freshmen are not eligible to vote, as they are only in their first semester of classes at the time of voting. Voting will continue through the end of the fall semester.
Full time faculty from any of the four academic colleges are eligible to win the Lindback Award. Professors who have won in the past cannot be nominated again. Students can vote for three different professors.
“The hardest part of the voting process is making the decision of which professors to vote for,” Casillas said.
The student voting is the initial stage of the process to choose the Lindback Award recipient. After the students vote, full-time faculty members get the chance to vote on a group of finalists.
The faculty considers each professor’s curriculum vitae, which is a resume of his or her work in education.
Considering the curriculum vitae and other criteria, such as a classroom visit, the Lindback committee them votes and makes its recommendation. The Lindback committee is comprised of full -time faculty members who have previously won the award.
The committee’s recommendation then goes to the Faculty Congress and then to University President Father Peter Donahue, O.S.A., who makes the final decision.