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Hood, Shahabuddin Honored for Exemplary Teaching


Donald C. Hood
Credit: Peter Kobel

What makes a teacher great? It's certainly more than depth of scholarship, breadth of knowledge and a long list of publications or research accomplishments. It is a certain almost ineffable ability to make that knowledge accessible and exciting to students, to provoke original thought, to challenge them with new ideas and fresh insights.

It is for those qualities and more that Donald C. Hood, James F. Bender Professor of Psychology in the Psychology Department at Columbia College , and Perwez Shahabuddin, professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, have been honored with the annual Great Teacher Awards, presented by the Society of Columbia Graduates.

The awards will be presented to Hood and Shahabuddin at a gala dinner to be held in Low Library Rotunda on Sept. 29, Paul deBary, president of the Society of Columbia Graduates, announced recently.

Hood and Shahabuddin join a distinguished roster of awardees, including such illustrious teachers as Mark Van Doren, Morton Friedman, Kenneth Jackson, Hilary Ballon and Alan Brinkley. Each recipient of the award has his or her name inscribed on the plaque under the Teaching Lion in Butler Library.

Both professors expressed their gratitude and excitement on receiving the awards.

"I was thrilled," Hood said. "We attract inquisitive, intellectually aggressive students to Columbia -- it's a great honor to teach them."

"I had absolutely not expected this," Shahabuddin said. "More than just honored, I am very moved by this."

Hood joined the Columbia faculty in 1969 after receiving his M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology from Brown University . Hood has served as the chair of his department several times and as vice president of Arts & Sciences (1982-1987). In recognition of his excellent teaching, he received the 1993 Mark Van Doren Award for Outstanding Teaching, which is the most prestigious teaching award conferred by an undergraduate student committee.

"The Great Teacher Award and the Mark Van Doren Award come from the people who mean the most to me -- the people I've taught," Hood said. "I'm not doing this for the recognition of my peers, I'm doing this for the students."


Perwez Shahabuddin
Credit: Peter Kobel

For those interested in seeing Hood's teaching style live, he will be presenting a series of three lectures on the brain and behavior at Miller Theatre under the rubric of "Theatre of Ideas." The first lecture is set for Sept. 13.

Since 1995, Shahabuddin has taught at Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, where he is a member of the faculty in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. Prior to coming to the University, he was a researcher at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights , N.Y. , where he specialized in systems analysis. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, he received his Ph. D. from Stanford in 1990.

Shahabuddin has received numerous professional awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the IBM Faculty Development Award. In 1998, he was elected an Eminent Engineer by Tau Beta Pi for "distinction for eminent attainments in engineering."

"Nine years ago, I had second thoughts abut joining academics, because of my stuttering," Shahabuddin said. "But I really loved being with students and interacting with them. So I took the leap. The award attests to the tremendous respect for diversity without prejudice that is inherent in Columbia culture."

In addition to the Great Teacher Awards, a special service award will be given by the Society of Columbia Graduates to Jacob W. Smit, Queen Wilhemina Professor of History, for his commitment to undergraduate teaching and his contributions as a teacher of all four of Columbia's principal Core Curriculum courses.

Published: Sep 21, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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