Distinguished Faculty Teaching Awards go to Caron, MurrayPublished: July 15, 2010
Whether he is inside the classroom or swinging a hammer in a righteous cause in Louisiana, Tim Caron inspires his students to be excellent writers, thinkers and humanitarians.
During his 12-year tenure at CSULB, Caron has taught 25 courses, including two innovative classes he developed — the Alternative Spring Break class and a year-long, team-taught, research collaborative course on comics and graphic novels.
Developed after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region in 2005, the Alternative Spring Break course (UNIV 300) examines the history and culture of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina’s impact upon the Gulf Coast and the nation, and political and policy decisions that contributed to the city’s destruction. As part of the service learning course, students travel to New Orleans during spring break to rebuild homes. In doing so, they learn the value of humanitarian action, inspiring many to go on to work for organizations like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America.
Collaborating with Nhorra Serrano, Caron also developed the first course at CSULB, and one of the few in the country, devoted to graphic novels. His dedication to his students’ success extends outside of the classroom as Caron provides guidance to students writing abstracts and papers for submission to national and regional conferences.
The students who have taken his classes laud him as one of the most informed, engaging and devoted professors they have ever had.
Caron serves as director of the University Honors Program. He has also served as interim chair of the Comparative World Literature and Classics and Linguistics departments.
Mathematics and Statistics
William Murray’s standards and his expectations of students are among the most rigorous in the Mathematics and Statistics Department. He teaches some of the least popular classes offered and his grade distributions are always below departmental norms. But students love him.
Murray’s teaching evaluations are outstanding. His passion for math, mixed with occasional jokes and random knowledge, keep students engaged. He is highly accessible, offering more office hours than most professors and even helping former students who are no longer enrolled in his classes.
Murray connects well with students inside the classroom and out. It is because of his ability to relate to students that he was asked to serve as the undergraduate advisor in 2006. He is also the advisor of the Beach Balls juggling club, which was started in 2003 after Murray covered juggling patterns in his Number Theory Class. The club, which practices at lunch on the quad, has traveled to juggling conventions as far as away as Ireland and this year helped organize a convention on mathematical juggling patterns attended by jugglers and scientists from six states and seven foreign countries.
Murray has enhanced the curriculum at CSULB, developing and teaching a new graduate course in Elliptic Curves, a major area of current research.
His desire to help students stretches beyond CSULB. In 2009, Murray organized a math textbook drive for Cambodian universities and helped establish the only math master’s program of its kind in Cambodia as a visiting professor at Royal University in Phnom Penh.
Photos by Robert Freligh