Samwick named N.H. prof. of year

| 11/18/09 11:00pm
by Andy Mai and Andy Mai / The Dartmouth

Colleges and universities can nominate up to three professors for the award, and the winner is selected by a panel of "top U.S. educators and other active participants in education," according to the award's web site.

Samwick, in an interview with The Dartmouth, said he strives to make himself and his teaching materials accessible to his students. He records every lecture and posts the audio podcasts online. He also posts his lecture notes in advance so students can familiarize themselves with the topics before class begins.

"Students should always know that a professor is doing everything he or she can to support their learning," Samwick said. "I try to make sure that students have unlimited access to me and to the course materials."

Samwick said he attributes part of his New Hampshire Professor of the Year award to the success of the Rockefeller Center's student programs, including the First-Year Fellows program and the Public Policy Research Shop.

"[Samwick] talked about how he enjoys seeing students benefit from [Rockefeller Center's] programs," Tomas Jagelka '11, who conducts economics research with Samwick as a Presidential Scholar, said in an e-mail. "The mere knowledge that he has contributed to their development and quest for learning makes him happy."

Samwick said his own undergraduate experience at Harvard University determined the teaching style and philosophy that he employs in his undergraduate classrooms today. He said he disliked the "sage on a stage" aspect of his big lecture classes, where teaching assistants were students' primary points of contact.

"I spent a lot of time being anonymous," he said, praising Dartmouth's small class sizes. "I really don't think students here even in a big major like economics would feel that way."

Samwick said the award is a reflection of Dartmouth's undergraduate experiences and opportunities.

"You feel like it's really an award being given to Dartmouth, and you're nominated to be the face of it," he said.

Students interviewed by The Dartmouth said that Samwick challenges students to think creatively.

Tarang Agarwal '11 said he appreciates how Samwick went beyond teaching the basics in his Economics 36 class, while Marisa Gilmore '11 said she enjoyed Samwick's real-world application of economics concepts.

"He would always include relevant examples to demonstrate concepts and would apply the material to current events," Gilmore said. "[Samwick gave] the students a clearer insight into what was currently happening in the financial world."

Jagelka said that Samwick has played an integral role in shaping his Dartmouth experience, praising Samwick for working to help students achieve their goals and fulfill their passions.

"He is always happy to give advice on whatever subject necessary, even if it does not relate to his course," Jagelka said. "He was always willing to help me outside of the classroom with my course choice, D-plan, future plans."

Economics professor Bruce Sacerdote said Samwick's recognition as 2009 New Hampshire Professor of the Year comes at an appropriate time.

"It's fitting after Dartmouth was recognized by U.S. News and World Report [for undergraduate education]," Sacerdote said. "To have further evidence of that is great."