Center for Excellence Honoree: Sharlene Walbaum

Sharlene Walbaum, professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, sets the bar high in courses and then gives each of her students the support and structure needed to meet her goals and surpass their expectations.

Walbaum has been recognized for her efforts with the University's most prestigious academic honor, the Excellence in Teaching Award. She was honored at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Recreation Center on the Mount Carmel Campus.

"From graduating seniors, the one word of advice that I heard over and over again was 'Take Professor Walbaum for your senior seminar.' I am so glad I listened," said Erin Baier, Walbaum's former student and advisee. "From the outset of the course, Professor Walbaum was a guiding light through the most rigorous task of my undergraduate career. She was incredibly organized and set clear deadlines throughout the semester to aid us in the successful completion of our theses."

Daniele Nizzardo, a former student of Walbaum's, said she could always count on Walbaum to be there to help her and guide her to a clearer understanding of subject matter.

"Professor Walbaum goes out of her way to make herself available to all of her students," Nizzardo said. "She is genuinely concerned about the well-being and success of each and every one of her students. She is knowledgeable about the areas in which she teaches and really has a way of effectively transferring her knowledge to students."

It is clear that Walbaum loves her students. "This is my life. This is what I love to do," Walbaum said. "The psychology department is full of inspiring teachers. These are folks who, when we see each other in the hallway, we talk about teaching. It's what we do. We care so much about it."

Walbaum said she learns alongside her students. "I may know more than a student does, but I am not better than a student and if that student wants, he or she can do what I am doing," Walbaum said. "It's important to remember that."

Thomas Pruzinsky, professor of psychology, said Walbaum's approach to teaching is based on a deep understanding of what it means to be an educator. "I have never seen a professor put more time, energy, thought and, dare I say, love into teaching," Pruzinsky said.

"Professor Walbaum is motivated by love in the biggest and most glorious sense of the word: Love of learning; love of teaching; love of people in all of our complexity, magnificence and quirkiness. She has a very big heart and a very big mind and she has given generously of both."

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