By: Diane Stirling
Two School of Information Studies (iSchool) faculty members who themselves are graduates of Syracuse University have been selected for the annual Jeffrey M. Katzer “Professor of The Year” awards.
Assistant Professor of Practice Anthony J. Rotolo Jr., of Syracuse, has been chosen as the “Jeffrey Katzer Professor of the Year” among full-time faculty members. Michael Clarke, of Chittenango, has been selected for the “Outstanding Part-Time Faculty of the Year” award among part-time and adjunct faculty members.
The awards, named in memory of Katzer, a beloved iSchool professor and interim dean, are presented each year at Convocation to recognize faculty members based on students’ perceptions of excellence in teaching, engagement and scholarship.
Rotolo is nationally recognized in the study of social media and real-time information, and for classes that use social media and leading-edge technologies as live practice to address changing expectations of information users and the strategic use of technology in organizations. His courses are: “Social Media in the Enterprise,” “Star Trek and the Information Age,”and last fall’s “Social Media and the 2012 Election.” A new course planned this fall, “NEXIS Class,”will explore emerging and experimental technologies, including social network analysis, open source hardware, and 3-D printing.
As the iSchool’s social media strategist, he has contributed to articles for Mashable, SocialFresh, and PRSA Tactics, and has been featured in the New York Times, ABC News and other national outlets. He has two degrees from the iSchool; his bachelor’s degree is in information management and technology and his master’s degree is in information management.
Rotolo was introduced for his award by graduating senior Andrew Bauer, who described that what sets the professor’s classes apart “is more than the tweets, the music, the glitter. It’s that he gives students a voice and never was that more recognized than in #ElectionClass. It’s not about him teaching; it’s about us learning, and that makes all the difference in the world.”
Rotolo said he was particularly pleased to receive the award in the same year that he taught #ElectionClass, which he called “the greatest experience of my teaching career.”
He reflected that in the time since he graduated from the iSchool, “the entire area I teach, social media, didn’t exist.” In his own days at the iSchool, though, “I was learning how to wonder about the world ahead of me, learning how to explore.” He told the graduates, “You didn’t come here to learn all you could know. So what I’ll ask you to do as you leave here is to wonder about what’s ahead of us. You will address challenges that don’t exist today. You’ll answer the question about whether the Internet will remain free and open, and as you answer that question you’ll change the course of the world. We are taught, or learn over time, to stop wondering. We focus only on what is proven and guaranteed. That’s no way to learn. We have observed you here and we know you’re capable of this level of wonderment, that you can imagine the world. Wondering is something entirely different – don’t lose that.”
Clarke is a staff member at the iSchool as well as an adjunct professor. As a Web Specialist II, he leads all development and administration of web-related projects. He has been at the iSchool since 2008, previously serving at the United Way of Central New York and at Edit Point Video in Syracuse. He also has worked on entrepreneurial ventures, including McCafferty Works and KickPoint Studios. Clarke earned his bachelor’s degree in computer graphics from Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, and has completed graduate work at LeMoyne College, Northeastern University and the iSchool.
In GET 234, “Effective Collaboration in a Globally Distributed Enterprise,” Clarke prepares students to intern for large companies using tools and techniques essential to work in today’s distributed organizations.“A lot of them come in with little experience in any professional setting, much less a large global enterprise. To take them from the basics of email etiquette and meetings, to having them be able to run distributed meetings with different technologies and tools, is an exciting thing for me as an instructor,” he noted.
Clarke said he is humbled and honored to be selected. “I was especially thrilled because this award is voted on by the students. It’s hard to tell sometimes whether or not you’re getting through, and if you’re making things too easy or too challenging. I try to make the class fun and engaging, yet challenging, and it’s nice to see that it resonated with some students. Teaching is a lot of work; it’s a lot of preparation, time, and grading. So I’m glad that those efforts are recognized.”
Clarke added his thanks to students who took time to vote, since he believes the award is important particularly for part-time and adjunct instructors. “They play an important role in this school, and so much of their continuing ability to teach here depends on student evaluations and student perception. So it’s very nice that they are recognized in this way.”
This year’s honorees were chosen by the undergraduate students of the school. Each year the selection process alternates between graduate and undergraduate students.