At the start of each year, five honorary University of Redlands faculty members are nominated by the students for Professor of the Year. This year, the list of nominees included, Sandy Koonce from the Mathematics and Computer Science departments, Teri Longin from the Chemistry department, Scott Randolph from Business Administration and Accounting departments, Greg Thorson from Political Science and Public Policy department, and Patrick Wing from the History department. Despite all the positive attributes each professor has, only one professor of the year can be chosen.
As each professor was recognized by a student volunteer from a current or previous class, the room seemed confused how a decision could be made with all the achievements each nominee has accomplished. However, this year’s winner is Scott Randolph, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Business Administration and Accounting.
Randolph graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in History, later received his master’s degree from the University of Akron, and finally acquiring a PhD from Purdue University. His passion for education led him to teach at Purdue University, University of Wyoming, and Armstrong Atlantic State Universities.
In 2011, the University of Redlands was fortunate enough to add Randolph to their faculty. Since then, Scott Randolph has inspired his students to work hard in and outside of the classroom.
“What I admire about Dr. Randolph is his dedication to upholding the standards of the classroom,” one of his students at the University of Redlands said. “Although his class is challenging, he does not ask you to do something that he would not do himself. Dr. Randolph is an example of the type of professor that every institution needs to effectively educate future generations, and therefore, deserves to be honored for his service to the University.”
Randolph said that he’s known since he was very young that he liked the idea of teaching. He noted that he has never been afraid of speaking in front of people, and knew that teaching would fit his way of communication well. After educating himself, Randolph has been giving back to the academic community in which he was once a bystander of.
“I took some time off and did some other things, but all throughout that I knew that being in the academy and being a collegiate instructor was something that I wanted to do for so long that I felt like I had something to give to the students,” Randolph said. “Eventually I reached that spot and that’s why I’m here.”
Scott Randolph has had experience at many universities before the University of Redlands. But said that the personal learning environment at this university allows him to connect with the students in a more productive way.
“I’ve taught at other institutions where I have enjoyed my teaching, where I have taught very large classes with 100 to 250 students in them, that has it’s own joy in rhythm,” Randolph said. “But what I enjoy here is the opportunity to get to know students individually. There is no one in my class who I don’t know by the end of the first or second week. I get to work with them at the entry level, I get to see them as Seniors, and invest in them as an advisor. It is a community learning environment and everything here is about that opportunity to teach, learn, and to not only learn myself but to help others.I come into work each day excited to have that opportunity.”
Randolph is glad to leave old institutions behind, and perhaps some of the more embarrassing moments as well. At a past institution, Professor Randolph was asked to teach a World History course. However, he had convinced himself that he was teaching a European History course. Over the course of an entire summer, Scott Randolph ordered books, prepared a syllabus, and prepared extensively. On the first day of class, he started teaching the suppose to be World History course like it was European History, then a student raised their hand and said “Professor, this is a World History course.” Between the first and second meeting, Professor Randolph prepared a syllabus, ordered new books, and profusely apologized to his students.
“I was very embarrassed,” Randolph said.
Despite his humorous moments, Randolph has dealt with some serious ones. While teaching at a previous college, Professor Randolph taught many military members, active or retired. These people dealt with PTSD, affecting them incredibly as a student. Other struggles his students live with were in regards to home life, financial situations, and health. Professor Randolph finds it rough as not only a teacher but an advisor because he “can’t always help the students and that’s hard.”
Being a teacher has it’s struggles and Scott Randolph seems to handle them quite well. Although he is an exception, many teachers battle with the dueling task of balancing teaching and advising while making a class interesting to effectively teach students. For the teachers coming into this rigorous field, Professor Randolph has a few words of wisdom.
“Be brave! Really, more than anything else. I think students in institutions are looking for people who are willing to experiment in the classroom and to be comfortable with the idea of failure,” Randolph said. “Things are not always going to work and that is something I do in my own classes when I tell students right from the get-go, especially in Business 226, that you’re going to get a lot of these things wrong and they are not going to make sense to you. You’re going to be frustrated by it, you’re going to think you understand something, then a week later, you’re going to learn something else that kind of blows up what you thought was the case. But, if you embrace that, you’ll move forward. I think the same thing applies to us as instructors. To be willing to take a risk and to acknowledge failure to solve what is best for your students as well a yourself.”
[Image courtesy of Sky Ung, Redlands Bulldog photographer]