Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among faculty members who have received Certificates of Teaching Excellence. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.
“Although her teaching achievements range quite widely – from effective mentoring and advising to successful curriculum development and from innovative use of technology to presentation of her novel teaching approaches at local and national meetings – a central theme pervades her work: a desire to foster a strong sense of community and belonging in both students and colleagues,” wrote Mark Barrow, chair of the Department of History, in a nomination letter.
Mollin sums her teaching philosophy up in just three words, “Me Happy First,” meaning if she isn’t interested and engaged in the material, why should her students be? She uses active learning techniques to keep students engaged, thus promoting student dialogue and problem-solving, which ultimately results in a better understanding of the material.
Mollin also experiments with new techniques every semester. This commitment to experimentation led to the creation of several new courses and guided her work in reforming the department’s undergraduate curriculum.
“Marian Mollin’s work is part of a strong tradition across the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences of innovative excellence that allows students to become partners in a knowledge community,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the college.
Mollin’s dedication to her students can be seen by the number of them who win annual departmental awards and scholarships, receive research grants, and regularly present papers at local and regional undergraduate research conferences.
Mollin received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and her master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.