By Dawn Krebs
TREASURE COAST -- When the three professors entered the lecture hall at Indian River State College, they thought they were attending a seminar on student success.
But Matthew Brooks, John Carpenter and Tiffany Lewis soon realized that the crowd of college administrators, faculty and students were gathered to celebrate that the three had been awarded endowed teaching chairs from the college's foundation.
The professors were awarded a miniature wooden "chair" for the surprise as a recognition of outstanding teaching and to help them implement training institutes.
The first chair awarded was to Matthew Brooks. His project focuses on using social media to promote student success.
"The overall goal is to find innovative technology to enhance education," said Dr. Edwin Massey, president of IRSC.
Mr. Brooks, an associate professor in the English Communication and Modern Languages department, was awarded the Fine Arts Endowed Teaching Chair.
The next recipient was John Carpenter, who joined IRSC in 2008. His project was to establish an institute focusing on the instructor and their ability to improve critical thinking in students.
"The better you can think critically, the better life you are going to lead," said Dr. Massey.
He received the Gladys Williams Wolf Endowed Teaching Chair in Communications.
The third endowed chair went to Tiffany E. Lewis, an assistant professor in the learning assistance department. She received the J. Douglas Stephens Endowed Teaching Chair.
Ms. Lewis is planning to create a Flipped Resource Center, using a new approach to teaching that presents course content outside of class in a variety of ways, then uses class time as a workshop to explore concepts using hands-on activities.
"This has the potential to turn the educational world upside down," Dr. Massey said. "We're excited about this process."
The recipients will receive an annual stipend of $6,000 a year for three consecutive years to implement the training institutes.
"Because quality of instruction is fundamental to IRSC's mission, we feel that it is very important to recognize these outstanding faculty members and reward them with the resources to implement projects that will benefit students and the community," said Dr. Massey.
For more information about supporting an endowed teaching chair, call the IRSC Foundation at (772) 462-4786.